William O’Sullivan’s Kerry edged past Mayo, 2-14 to 2-13, in a gripping TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Senior Football Championship quarter-final this afternoon.
The Kingdom, beaten finalists last year, needed three late points to earn a come-from-behind victory against a Mayo side inspired by Cora Staunton.
The ace forward scored 1-09 for Mayo, a tally matched by Kerry’s Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh, in a memorable tie at St Brendan’s Park, Birr.
With less than ten minutes remaining, 2-1 pre-match outsiders Mayo were on course for victory as they led by 2-13 to 2-11.
But late scores from player of the match Ní Mhuircheartaigh, impressive sub Margaret Fitzgerald and Louise Galvin snatched a sensational win for the Munster champions.
Mayo will look back on this tie with some regret as they spurned a host of goal chances.
Staunton (pictured below) netted a wonderful goal just before half-time but she also rattled the crossbar in the opening half.
Earlier, Aileen Gilroy forced a brilliant save from Kerry goalkeeper Edel Murphy, who also denied Lisa Cafferky late on.
Deirdre Doherty, who netted for Mayo in the second half, had other chances to raise green flags but she blazed over in the 13th minute with a goal for the taking.
Doherty fired wide with 12 minutes remaining but she made amends two minutes later with a strike that put the Connacht ladies a point up, 2-12 to 2-11.
It was a lead they would extend to two points but Kerry, who were without a competitive game for six weeks, dug deep to make it through to the last four.
O’Muircheartaigh was Kerry’s class act and her 24th-minute goal was brilliantly taken.
At half-time, Mayo led by 1-09 to 1-08 but this was a game that swung one way and then another, with the sides level on six occasions.
Patrice Dennehy and Ní Mhuircheartaigh had other goal chances for Kerry in an open game.
Staunton had a battle royale with Kerry full-back Aislinn Desmond but the introduction of Fitzgerald from the bench was a crucial switch by O’Sullivan.
Fitzgerald kicked the equalising point three minutes from time and Scartaglin player also did brilliantly to keep in Bernie Breen’s long range effort before transferring a wonderful pass for Galvin’s 43rd minute goal.
Kerry will now play Cork in the semi-final.
Scorers for Mayo: C Staunton 1-9 (0-5f), D Doherty 1-1, C Egan, A Gilroy & S Rowe 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kerry: L Ní Mhuircheartaigh 1-9 (0-6f), L Galvin 1-1, S Houlihan 0-2, P Dennehy & M Fitzgerald 0-1 each.
Kerry: E Murphy; C Lynch, A Desmond, A Lyons; B Lane, C Kelly, D Hallissey; E Sherwood, B Breen; S Houlihan, D Corridan, S Joy; P Dennehy, L Galvin, L Ní Mhuircheartaigh.
Subs: A Brosnan for Hallissey (20), M Fitzgerald for Joy (40), M O’Connell for Dennehy (50).
Mayo: Y Byrne; A Bell, N Tierney, S Tierney; C Connelly, M Carter, C Sullivan; C Egan, C McManamon; A Gilroy, C Staunton, F McHale; S Rowe, D Doherty, L Cafferky.
Sub: N Kelly for Cafferky (56).
Referee: K Delahunty (Tipperary)