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REACTION: Kerry feel the joy after historic triumph

Mon 17th Apr

Daragh Ó Conchúir

County, Latest

By Daragh Ó Conchúir, at Croke Park
Patrice Diggin has been a central cog in the rise of Kerry camogie in the past decade and the attacker, who scored three points and also helped to reduce the huge influence of Meath phenom Aoife Minogue when switched to midfield in the second half, summed up the importance of a historic 0-14 to 0-13 Kerry triumph in the Very Camogie League Division 2A final at Croke Park yesterday.

“Any day you walk out on Croke Park is a special moment but the excitement of winning today is you’re pushing up to Division 1B and I think that drives Kerry camogie to another level,” said Diggin.

“In 2019, when we won the All-Ireland you were getting to intermediate and now this year, you know you’re going up with the top guns so it’s a massive, special day for Kerry.

“You can say it’s just another field, it’s just another game, but it’s always breathtaking coming out onto that field, the size of it, and it can take a few minutes to get into it. You see it the surface, the ball is pinging from end to end. It takes a little time to get used to but it’s special.”

The Kingdom just edged a pulsating encounter full of outstanding scores, and Diggin’s late on from right out right touchline to put Kerry two ahead with time running out was right up there.

Jackie Horgan was the scoring star for Kerry, contributing eight points after taking over the placed ball duties from her long-time ally and also driving over four scores from play.

Defeat had to be tough to take for Meath and particularly Minogue, who dominated the game in the first half, sending over points from all distances and angles. She also had a couple of shots at goal well saved by Aoife Fitzgerald and little wonder Kerry manager, Pat Ryan described her as a fantastic athlete and Meath as a very good team.

His tone though, was similar to Diggin’s. Pure joy.

“I’m just so happy,” said Ryan. “Happy is the word,” he added, for emphasis. “After people being through Covid and everything, what a day. What a day for the young people, for young girls. What a day for Kerry (ladies) football yesterday (after winning the Division 1 League) and it was great.”

Kerry had done well to be only going in a point in arrears at half-time, 0-7 to 0-6. And though Amy Gaffney shot three second-half points for Meath, the eventual winners were much improved in the latter period.

“We just kept it simple,” explained Ryan regarding the messaging in the dressing room. “A few home truths, simple talk, we gave one or two instructions and the girls responded. That’s all. We spoke for a minute and that was it.”

Meath boss, Brendan Skehan hailed his charges.

“We were lacking a little bit of experience but I suppose if we’d taken a few of the chances and stuck the points away. There was a little bit of indiscipline that gave away frees as well but all in all, you can’t fault the girls. The effort was superb. They’re extremely disappointed.”

The teams were level seven times and it wasn’t until the 56th minute that Kerry hit the front for the last time via a Horgan free. Then came Diggin’s outrageous point and they managed to keep their noses up through seven minutes of additional time to claim the honours.

“We’d a load of minors with us today who can’t play but trained with us all year,” Ryan concluded. “It was like Christmas for them this morning, they were first up for the breakfast! That’s the future really.

“Today, you can’t buy this, you can’t buy this feeling.”

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