by Oisín McGovern
Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh produced a stunning display and shot 1-10 as Kerry took another major step towards ending their famine as they booked their place in the TG4 All-Ireland final for the second year in a row.
Kerry, even without injured captain Siofra O’Shea, were on top throughout and will now hope to go one better in two weeks and capture the TG4 All-Ireland title for the first time since 1993.
The Corca Dhuibhne sharpshooter delivered an awesome display in a game where Kerry built up a nine-point half-time lead to leave Mayo with little chance of a revival.
The Connacht champions enjoyed a better second half with the wind and shot 1-6. However, Michael Moyles’ side had no answer to the unstoppable Ní Mhuircheartaigh, who caused havoc at every turn.
The exchanges were quite even in the first ten minutes, with Sinéad Cafferky and Shauna Howley exchanging points with Ní Mhuircheartaigh and Hannah O’Donoghue.
But Mayo were blown away in a devastating nine-minute spell in the first half when Kerry hit them for 1-7 without reply.
The twin threats of O’Donoghue and Ní Mhuircheartaigh accounted for 1-5 of this, with Emma Costello and Niamh Ní Chonchúir pointing the remainder.
Kerry’s two most influential players were central to Kerry’s 18th minute goal, with O’Donoghue fist-passing across the goal for Ní Mhuircheartaigh to palm into the net.
Mayo – who sent three kick-outs out over the sideline in the first half – broke an 11-minute long scoring drought when Sinéad Cafferky knocked over her second point.
Centre-back Ciara Needham added another for the Connacht champions, but a nine-point interval deficit left them with a mountain to climb.
The Kingdom lost the impressive O’Donoghue to injury at half-time, but that did little to impede their march to victory.
Ní Mhuircheartaigh was immense, kicking 0-5 in the second half and nearly grabbing a second goal.
Substitute Deirdre Doherty gave Mayo a glimmer of home when she struck the net mid-way through the second half within a minute of her introduction.
However, they failed to muster a serious bounce against a Kerry team that tackled and turned over ball tigerishly all afternoon.
Shauna Howley and Aoife Geraghty pointed as Mayo made a few brave charges at goal, but their shooting and shot selection let them down.
A rampant Ní Mhuircheartaigh, who ended with 1-6 from play, continued to terrorise the Mayo defence and saw a wicked shot on goal graze over the crossbar in the closing stages.
Scorers – Kerry: L Ní Muircheartaigh 1-10 (0-4f), H O’Donoghue 0-3, E Costello 0-1, N Ní Conchúir 0-1, D O’Leary 0-1.
Mayo: D Doherty 1-0, S Howley 0-3 (2f), S Cafferky 0-2, C Needham 0-2, S Walsh 0-1, L Cafferky 0-1, R Kearns 0-1, A Geraghty 0-1.
KERRY: C Butler; E Lynch, K Cronin, C Murphy; A O’Connell, E Costello, C Lynch; L Scanlon, L Galvin; N Carmody, N Ní Chonchúir, A Galvin; H O’Donoghue, D O’Leary, L Ní Mhuircheartaigh (capt.) Subs: A Harrington for O’Donoghue (HT, inj.), M O’Connor for Galvin (47), C Evans for Ní Chonchúir (54), E McGlynn for Carmody (66).
MAYO: L Brennan; S Lally, C McManamon, D Caldwell; É Ronayne, C Needham, K Sullivan (capt.); A Geraghty, T O’Connor; S Cafferky, R Kearns, S Mulvihill; T Needham, S Howley, L Cafferky Subs: S Walsh for Mulvihill (26), L Wallace for O’Connor (44), D Doherty (1-0) for Kearns (44), M Cannon for T Needham (52), F McHale for Howley (59).
Referee: Maggie Farrelly (Cavan).Tweet