by Thomas Keane
Ace forward Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh bagged 1-7 as Kerry got their 2023 TG4 Munster Senior Championship campaign off to a winning start against Waterford.
The Kingdom, fresh from landing the Lidl National League Division 1 title, emerged six-point winners against the Déise at Fraher Field this afternoon.
Ní Mhuircheartaigh was on song for Kerry, with 1-4 of her haul collected before half-time.
Kerry, who led by 1-5 to 0-4 at half-time, managed to keep Waterford at arm’s length during the second half, as substitute Danielle O’Leary wrapped up the win with a goal in stoppage time.
O’Leary came off the bench to replace Hannah O’Donoghue in the 44th minute and made her mark as Kerry, who are many people’s favourites to land the TG4 Munster and All-Ireland crowns, began with a positive result.
Kellyann Hogan was superb for Waterford, scoring five points, including two from play, with Bríd McMaugh also contributing to the home side’s scoring effort with three points.
But it was Ní Mhuircheartaigh, who was the leading scorer in Division 1 during the Lidl National League, who led the way for Kerry.
Fiadhna Tangney also scored a point for Kerry in the first half, as the visitors came from behind after McMaugh had opened the scoring with a free.
Waterford suffered an early injury blow, however, as Megan Dunford was forced off and replaced by Niamh Power.
Midway through the half, Tangney’s point had Kerry 0-2 to 0-1 clear but the sides were level at 0-4 each approaching the break.
Ní Mhuircheartaigh netted in first half injury time and the Corca Dhuibhne magician added another point before the interval, as Kerry led by four.
For the goal, Ní Mhuircheartaigh used all of her experience to stay cool and fist the ball home, following good work by Niamh Carmody.
Waterford kept battling throughout the second half and the margin was at three points before O’Leary’s late goal.
Kerry move on to face Cork next weekend, with Waterford set to face Tipperary at home in the round-robin series.
Scorers for Kerry: L Ní Mhuircheartaigh 1-7 (0-3f), D O’Leary 1-0, F Tangney 0-1.
Scorers for Waterford: K Hogan 0-5 (2f), B McMaugh 0-3 (2f).
WATERFORD: E O’Brien; C Murray, M Dunford, A Murray; E Power, E Murray, Kate McGrath; K Hogan, A Waring; A O’Neill, A Fitzgerald, C Hynes; K Murray, B McMaugh, L McGregor.
Subs: N Power for Dunford (6), Karen McGrath for Hynes (35), S McGuckian for Waring (48).
KERRY: M.E. Bolger; E Lynch, K Cronin, A Dillane; A O’Connell, E Costello, C Murphy; L Scanlon, A Galvin; N Carmody, N Ní Chonchúir, E Evans; F Tangney, H O’Donoghue, L Ní Mhuircheartaigh.
Subs: C Lynch for Galvin (35), A Harrington for Evans (38), D O’Leary for H O’Donoghue (44), L Galvin for Ní Chonchúir (45), M O’Connell for Tangney (54).
Referee: J Murphy (Cork)Tweet