Geraldine McLaughlin fires Donegal to hard-fought victory over Kerry
TG4 All-Ireland Senior Championship Group 4 round 3: Donegal 2-13 Kerry 2-9
DONEGAL set up a mouth-watering TG4 All-Ireland Senior Championship quarter-final against reigning champions Dublin by way of victory over Kerry in their must-win final group game in Tuam on Saturday.
The Ulster side worked hard for their four points victory and manager Maxi Curran said he was "delighted" to be in the last eight.
"We are delighted to get out of the group as that was our objective at the start to be in the quarter-finals and we are there now," he said.
Curran pointed out their strong second quarter as the foundation for the win although they did trail 0-7 to 0-4 after 22 minutes. However, 2-5 without reply either side of half-time pushed the Tir Chonaill girls into an eight point lead and although Kerry got back to within two with nine minutes remaining, Donegal got a couple of assurance points courtesy of player of the match Geraldine McLaughlin.
The Termon player was outstanding finishing with 1-9 while Katy Herron grabbed their other goal. And it was two goals in quick succession with half-time approaching that helped to put a bit of distance between the sides.
"The second quarter was probably what it was built on. The girls showed a lot of composure. We were hurting really badly how many times we gave the ball away last weekend and we set out our stall, that was a foundation of our victory, we kept the ball well, we didn't give it away and we got our scores," said Curran.
The scores were level twice in the opening 10 minutes but then a brace from Hannah O'Donoughue either side of one from Niamh Carmody just after the water break saw Kerry double their lead, 0-6 to 0-3 after being 0-3 to 0-2 down with eight minutes gone.
Kerry's seventh point, from a Louise Ni Mhuireachtaigh free in the 22nd minute was to be their last score and in the remaining minutes of the half Donegal blitzed the Kerry goal hitting 2-2 to open up a 2-6 to 0-2 interval lead. Seconds before their first goal, from McLaughlin, Donegal could have found themselves trailing 1-7 to 0-5 but Ni Mhuireachtaigh rattled the crossbar, the follow-up went wide and Donegal went down the other end and fired home through McLaughlin. That was followed up very quickly by their second major with Herron finishing to the net.
McLaughlin hit the first three scores of the second half to move her side 2-9 to 0-7 in front before Ni Mhuireachtaigh's 39th minute goal, their first score in almost 18 minutes gave Kerry a lifeline. Donegal still led by six at the water break but Niamh Carmody's 48th minute goal and another Ni Mhuireachtaigh point (free) left just two between them. But Donegal held firm with McLaughlin on the end of two important points to seal their place against Dublin in the knockout stages. Kerry must now regroup for the relegation play-offs where they will face Tipperary.
The other three quarter-finals, set for this weekend, will see Armagh face Meath, Mayo take on Galway, and Waterford play Cork.