By Patrick Sharkey in Croke Park,
The old master Eamonn Murray continued his astonishing All-Ireland final record at Croke Park this evening as his Meath side put Kerry to the sword in ruthless fashion. Kerry had plenty of fights in them.
Murray’s Meath had triumphed in three out of four All-Ireland finals including the upset against Westmeath.
But in 2022 the Royal lost their Midas touch against Dublin, falling to them in league and Leinster.
However, two-time All-Ireland winning manager Murray was back on form again this evening. Kerry weren’t exactly pushovers as they were powered by the ever-reliable Louise NI Mhuireachtaigh who scored a total of 1-2 and brought more than her shooting boos with her to Croke Park as she was always there for a Monica McGuirk kick out. Ni Mhuireachtaigh was then able to act as a decoy runner or a break ball magnet, depending on which is necessary. Louise was also able to link up the half-backs.
Murray once again showed his mastery of the lengthy gap between games which so many other counties complain about. However, one player Meath struggled to handle was the Kerry wingback Murphy.
Not a man for whinging, his side just went out and obliterated Darragh Lang and Declan Quill’s Kerry.
The first half was an absolute disaster for Kerry. Kerry was unable to handle the Meath half-forward Duggan.
Bar a few notable exceptions in their under-pressure defence, the Kingdom were literally second to every ball. One Kerry player who was quick enough to get to most balls was the halfback, Emma Costello.
Nothing before the throw-in disrupted them. The Munster side just found it very difficult to break down Meath.
Paris McCarthy came in on the corner, but she found Katie Newe far too hot to handle as the Rathoath woman only didn’t allow McCarthy to hit any first-half points. There were no excuses.
Emma Troy was also on fire in the first half, firing a point and a goal from play and having a hand in nine of the first 11 points – four of them direct assists – as Meath rocketed out into a 1-8 to 1-5 half-time lead. Katie Newe also deserves a lot of credit for her role as a cornerback for Meath.
Troy was on her third marker by the start of the second half, with Paris McCarthy taking over from Síofra O’Shea, with Anna Galvin having started on the Royal legend. Emma Troy brought more than her shooting boots though, as the half-back got the raw end of the deal as her half-backs were attacking and she was left to hold the centre. The Boardsmill woman had all the qualities needed for Meath to push on. The primary school teacher showed a good reading of the game and the ability to stop runners without drawing the dreaded yellow card. The 27-year-old won every individual battle.
The Kerry forwards bar Paris Mccarthy was awful, but some of the high, straight deliveries did them no favours with Aoibhín Cleary, Shauna Ennis and co lapping it up magnificently. Emma Duggan didn’t have much of her opportunities lapped up by the Kerry backs as she scored 0-1 but brought more than scores as she was the key player in the transition from defence to attack. Duggan was always present on the 40. Emma is elusive, can maximise space and is a great passer. Kerry was confused about whether to follow her or lay in the space that she vacated. That was the key to Meath.
Meath scorers: N O’Sullivan 1-2, E Troy 1-1, B Lynch 1-0, V Wall (2f), S Grimes (2f) 0-3 each, E Duggan 0-1 (f).
Kerry scorers: L Ní Mhuircheartaigh 1-2 (0-2f), S O’Shea 0-2, C Murphy, L Scanlon, P McCarthy 0-1 each.
Meath: M McGuirk; S Ennis, MK Lynch, K Newe; A Leahy, E Troy, A Cleary; M O’Shaughnessy, O Lally; M Thynne, E Duggan, K Nesbitt; V Wall, S Grimes, N O’Sullivan.
Subs: O Byrne for Leahy (22), B Lynch for Nesbitt (42), O Duff for Newe (57), E White for Grimes (57), S Wall for Thynne (57).
Kerry: C Butler; J O’Sullivan, K Cronin, E Lynch; A O’Connell, A Costello, C Murphy; L Scanlon, C Lynch; N Carmody, S O’Shea, A Galvin; P McCarthy, D O’Leary, L Ní Mhuircheartaigh.
Subs: N Ní Chonchuir for Carmody (44), E McGlynn for McCarthy (45), A Dillane for O’Sullivan (55), C Evans for O’Leary (57), M O’Connell for A O’Connell (58).
Referee: Maggie Farrelly (Cavan).
Player of the match: Kerry looked at the real deal with Danielle O’Leary and Síofra O’Shea. but the player of the match has to be Niamh O’Sullivan for Meath