by Daragh Ó Conchúir at Croke Park
Kerry manager Ian Brick hailed the workrate of his charges as his charges made history to win the county’s first Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Premier Junior Championship title.
Patrice Diggin’s birthday will be one she will remember for a long time, as she scored five points and was named player of the match but Brick was quick to praise his entire team.
“We didn’t make it easy for ourselves in the last 10 minutes” said Brick referring to a slew of wides in that period, quite a few of which Diggin was uncharacteristically culpable.
“We always knew Limerick were going to be very tough, very physical, with great speed all over the pitch. We found it very hard to contain them early on.
“We did try to impose our physical game on them but unfortunately we weren’t able to kill off the game, though it wasn’t for the lack of trying.
“The girls have been fantastic all year. There were hooks and blocks and interceptions all over the field. I have nothing but praise for them and it’s absolutely deserved.
“Going forward we weren’t brilliant. Again, Limerick were putting us under pressure but the workrate was the best part of our game today. We knew if we could just keep grinding it out, we’d be there or thereabouts at the end.
“Limerick had a very good game plan. We thought we’d be able to dominate but we weren’t able to and that was down to Kevin (Connolly) and his tactics. They brought our defence all over the field and we found it hard to settle up front but the girls worked hard and the couple of girls that came in at half-time combined for a vital score that settled us.
“Giving the girls hugs after, their jerseys were drowned in sweat and that’s all you can ask for on a given day.”
Limerick were on top early on but some good defensive work by Elaine Ryall and Sara Murphy denied them a score.
Brid Horan pointed from Kerry’s first attack but Rebecca Noonan, who excelled for Limerick from placed balls levelled from a difficult free tight to the Cusack Stand side and outside the 45.
Diggin and Noelle Curtin exchanged scores once more, the latter finishing well after doing wonderfully to emerge form a ruck with possession.
Kerry got on top and the hit the next four points via Julianne O’Keeffe, Diggin from play and a free and Jackie Horgan but Limerick were back to within one at the break, 0-6 to 0-5, Noonan converting frees either side of a nice finish by Whelan.
Substitutes Ann Marie Leen and Clodagh Walsh combined for the latter to score within 31 seconds of the resumption and by the end of the third quarter, Kerry were four ahead.
Limerick wouldn’t die and halved the deficit via Noonan and Shauna D’arcy and though Diggin was struggling with her radar late on, she did add one more point to her tally.
Meanwhile the rearguard effort never looked like conceding a goal and Kerry were bound for the Intermediate ranks.
SCORERS FOR KERRY: P Diggin 0-5(4fs); B Horan, J Horgan, J O’Keeffe, R McCarthy, S Murphy, C Walsh 0-1 each
SCORERS FOR LIMERICK: R Noonan 0-5(fs); N Curtin, E Whelan, S Darcy 0-1 each
KERRY: A Fitzgerald, E Ryall, L Houlihan, A O’Connor, N Leen, S Murphy, M Costello, P Diggin, L Collins, J Fitzell, J Horgan, R McCarthy, B Horan, J O’Keeffe, O Dineen. Subs: A M Leen for Fitzell (ht), C Walsh for Horan (ht), A Maunsell for O’Keeffe (48)
LIMERICK: L O’Carroll, K Herbert, Y Lee, E Butler, S Shanahan, A Coughlan, S McElligott, O Kelleher, A Kennedy, R Noonan, G M O’Kelly, N Curtin, M Curtin, G Lee, E Whelan. Subs: L Browne for Kelleher (35), S D’arcy for O’Kelly (44), C Brennan for Lee (45), K Carroll for N Curtin (55)
REFEREE: Gavin Donegan (Dublin)