Ulster champions Monaghan produced a devastating final quarter against Kerry in Saturday’s TG4 All-Ireland ladies senior football championship semi-final to set up a final meeting with Cork on 25 September.
The showpiece decider will be a repeat of the 2008 final between the two counties, which Cork won comfortably, but Monaghan will fancy their chances of gaining revenge at GAA HQ.
When their character was questioned in a hugely-entertaining semi-final, Monaghan found the answers and eventually cruised to a nine-point win.
Monaghan had led by eight points at one stage in the first half but gritty Kerry kept chipping away and were ahead by a point twice in the second half.
But ultimately, it was a run of 2-5 without reply which sealed the deal for the Farney County, as Kerry also lost the services of centre back Aisling Desmond in the final ten minutes, after she was yellow-carded.
Caoimhe Mohan’s late brace of goals, in the 48th and 55th minutes, provided Monaghan with the breathing space they craved and shellshocked Kerry, a player light, had no answer down the home straight.
But the beaten Munster finalists, who lost at the All-Ireland semi-final stage for the second successive year, emerged with their heads held high after giving free-scoring Monaghan a real fight.
The winners have lost just one competitive game all year, in the Bord Gáis Energy Division 1 semi-final, and have forwards that are capable of wreaking havoc with a regular supply of ball.
Cathriona McConnell scored 1-6, Mohan 2-1 and Therese McNally collected 1-3 but captain Sharon Courtney claimed the player of the match award following a powerhouse performance at full-back.
And at corner forward, Ciara McAnespie may not have scored but with her direct running and eye for a pass she was a constant thorn in Kerry’s side .
Indeed, it was McAnespie who helped to create Monaghan’s two first-half goals, as McNally and McConnell profited from the Emyvale dynamo’s industry in the opening ten minutes.
At half-time, Monaghan led by 2-7 to 0-8, having played against the breeze, with Sarah Houlihan’s six first-half points keeping Kerry in touch.
Within 28 seconds of the restart, Deirdre Corridan banged home a superb Kerry goal and, suddenly, it was very much game on.
And when corner forward Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh goaled in the 38th minute, Kerry were a point clear, 2-9 to 2-8.
The sides were level twice more before Monaghan stepped on the gas, with Kerry left to rue Desmond’s ten minute spell in the sin bin.
Huge gaps opened up in the Kingdom’s rearguard and Monaghan were ruthless enough to exploit them.
Scorers for Kerry: S Houlihan 0-6 (4f), L Ní Mhuircheartaigh 1-2, D Corridan 1-0, B Breen, M O’Donoghue, L Cronin & S Corkery 0-1 each.
Scorers for Monaghan: C McConnell 1-6 (0-3f), C Mohan 2-1, T McNally 1-3, E McCarron 0-3, N Kindlon (f) & L McEnaney 0-1 each.
Kerry: E Murphy; C Kelly, A Leonard, A Lyons; D Hallissey, A Desmond, SJ Joy; L Scanlon, B Breen; D Corridan, M O’Donoghue, L Galvin; S Houlihan, P Dennehy, L Ní Mhuircheartaigh.
Subs: L Cronin for Dennehy (21), M O’Connell for O’Donoghue (53), S Corkery for Corridan (56), L O’Sullivan for Lyons (60+2).
Monaghan: L Martin; G McNally, S Courtney, C Reilly; A McAnespie, N Fahy, L Connolly; A Casey, C Courtney; T McNally, E McCarron, C McConnell; C McAnespie, N Kindlon, C Mohan.
Subs: I Kierans for C Courtney (37), L McEnaney for Kindlon (40), E McElroy for Connolly (58), N Mohan for McConnell (60+1).
Referee: K Tighe (Dublin).