Limerick held off a stunning Kerry fightback in the second half to be crowned Irish Daily Star Camogie League Division 4 champions after a 5-5 to 1-10 victory in this thrilling replay in Newcastle West writes Daragh Ó Conchúir.
Ger Curtin’s team needed a late point to earn a second bite of the cherry and were never behind on home turf this time around. Indeed, they led by three goals at half time and looked to be cruising to a comfortable success.
That was to reckon without the character of a Kerry squad competing in the league for the first time. Nor did it take into account the prodigious Sara Murphy, who followed up her magnificence in the drawn game with another tour de force that yielded all bar one point of her side’s tally. That stunning contribution brought Kerry level with five minutes remaining, but Limerick finished with goals from their saviour in the drawn encounter, Caitrín de Bhál, and Sarah Collins to stop their opponents in their tracks.
Limerick got off to a brilliant start with a goal from Elaine Kennedy in the second minute. It was a very well-worked score, with the quick transference of the sliotar bemusing the Kerry defence. The final pass found Kennedy unattended and she made no mistake from close range.
Murphy got her side off the mark from a free. Lisa Scanlon responded from a long-distance placed ball before Murphy notched up her second pointed free.
Kennedy struck for her second goal after 17 minutes though, following some fine play in the corner by Margaret Lynch, and within two minutes, Collins made it 3-1 to 0-2, with an unstoppable shot for the first of her two majors.
David Doyle’s crew managed to tighten up their defence until the significant closing moments of the game but trailing by 3-3 to 0-3 at half time, their prospects weren’t looking good.
Doyle certainly worked the oracle during the interval though and Kerry were a completely different outfit after the resumption. Points from Murphy (free), Laura Collins and Murphy again (45) increased confidence and when Murphy followed up another converted free with a goal the margin was down to two points suddenly. Kerry were flying and Limerick were clearly teetering.
Muireann Creamer steadied the ship momentarily for the hosts with their first score of the second half but Murphy punished Limerick indiscipline on three further occasions to bring the sides level on 3-4 to 1-10 with five minutes left.
At this juncture, all the momentum was with Kerry but Limerick showed tremendous spirit to dig deep in the defining period of the game. De Bhál put them ahead with a point before Collins pounced for a 58th minute goal. As Kerry poured forward, de Bhál capitalised on the gaps to grab another goal in injury time.
SCORERS FOR LIMERICK: E Kennedy, S Collins 2-0 each; C de Bhál 1-1; L Scanlon 0-2(fs); K Carroll, M Creamer 0-1 each
SCORERS FOR KERRY: S Murphy 1-9 (0-8fs, 0-1 45); L Collins 0-1