Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
All-Ireland under 16 Ladies Football Final
Galway 3-16 Kerry 3-12 AET
By Darren Kelly
Kate Slevin bagged 1-7 as Galway retained their All-Ireland U16 A title following a thrilling battle with Kerry in front of a massive Toomevara attendance on Wednesday evening.
Extra-time was required to separate the two sides – after Galway came from behind to force the additional 20 minutes.
Underage football in Galway is on a high and following the recent All-Ireland Minor A final victory over Cork, the Westerners have another big crown to celebrate.
It was also the first time that Galway have won back-to-back U16 crowns but this encounter swung one way and then another over the course of 80 epic minutes.
Galway were six points ahead thanks to two Aoife O’Rourke goals inside four minutes, Kerry were six clear at half-time thanks to a Síofra O’Shea hat-trick and six unanswered Galway points forced extra-time.
Kate Slevin found the net to put Galway ahead before they went down to 14 players after Samantha Fahy was sinbinned in the second period.
But points for Shauna Brennan, the brilliant Niamh McPeake and Slevin ensured Stephen Hession’s team carried the day.
Supporters were still flocking into the Tipperary venue when the green flag began being waved regularly – and Galway got the first goal after 20 seconds.
Hannah Noone won the throw-in before sending player of the match Chellene Trill on the run.
And the Claregalway wing back got within range before picking out O’Rourke who finished to the net.
Kerry were rattled but weren’t given time to take it in as Galway got a second major through O’Rourke.
But they settled, focused on the task at hand and worked their way back into contention.
Captain Rachel O’Dwyer launched an attack that resulted in O’Shea hitting the net before Ella Teahan and Clodagh Evans reduced arrears – 2-0 to 1-2.
Galway would go 28 minutes without a score before Slevin converted a badly-needed point.
And Kerry did the damage with two more O’Shea goals (the first a penalty) in two minutes to lead 3-4 to 2-1 at half-time.
Kerry continued to march clear, winning kick-outs as O’Shea and Mary Collins gave them a 3-7 to 2-2 lead on 38 minutes.
But then Galway started reversing the trend and outscored their opponents by 0-9 to 0-1 through Eva Noone, Niamh McPeake, Slevin, Brennan and Ellen Power.
O’Shea’s free gave Kerry an advantage but Galway got one more chance and Slevin didn’t disappoint, making it 3-9 to 2-12, forcing extra time.
The Claregalway corner forward got 1-1 in the opening 10 minutes, profiting from Brennan’s industry to stick a rebound to the net on 68 minutes and they led 3-13 to 3-11 at the change of ends.
After Brennan put the margin to three, O’Shea replied but Galway were under pressure when Fahy was sinbinned.
However, they held onto the ball to add two further scores through McPeake and Slevin – and a fourth U16 A title was Galway’s.
Galway – K Slevin 1-7 (three frees), A O’Rourke 2-0, N McPeake 0-4, S Brennan 0-2, L Kelly 0-1 (free), E Noone 0-1, E Power 0-1
Kerry – S O’Shea 3-6 (0-6f, 1-0 pen), R Dwyer 0-1, M O’Connell 0-1, R Kilgallen 0-1, E Teahan 0-1, C Evans 0-1, M Collins 0-1
Galway: A Murray; L Coen, M Walsh, S Fahy; S Healy, E Madden, C Trill; T Kinnevey, H Noone; N McPeake, L Kelly, S Brennan; E Noone, A O’Rourke, K Slevin.
Subs used: C Murray for Walsh (25 mins), E Power for Healy (40 mins), L Hynes for O’Rourke (70 mins).
Kerry: C Butler; M Kelly, R O’Connor, A Doherty; G Kearney, R Dwyer, A Dillane; M O’Connell, A O’Connell; R Kilgallen, D O’Leary, E Teahan; C Evans, S O’Shea, M Collins.
Subs used: C McCarthy for Collins (49 mins), C O’Connor for Kelly (56 mins), C Fitzgerald for A O’Connell (60 mins).
Referee: Des McEnery (Westmeath)