Official Aras Mumhan Website

16th March 2024

A defeat away to pace-setters Armagh last Sunday week was something of a set-back, but Niamh Carmody has insisted Kerry’s destiny in Division 1 of the Lidl National Football League very much remains in their own hands.

Winners of the NFL top flight last April with an emphatic final win over Galway at Croke Park, the Kingdom made a strong start to 2024 courtesy of successive victories at the expense of Dublin, Waterford and Cork. Yet the title holders had to be content with a share of the spoils in their round four meeting with Mayo at Fitzgerald Stadium on February 17 and Armagh ultimately had the measure of them a little over a fortnight later at the BOX-IT Athletic Grounds.

Nonetheless, Kerry are still in the reckoning for a spot in the Division 1 showpiece as they currently occupy second place in the league standings — a point ahead of both Meath and Dublin. Tomorrow afternoon’s clash against Meath in Ashbourne (throw-in 3pm) presents Kerry with an ideal opportunity to bolster their prospects and there is also a final round game on the horizon at home to Galway next weekend.

“It’s very much in our own hands whether we make the league final or not. We’ve had an alright start to the league. We’ve only lost the one, and we’ve had three good wins and a draw,” Carmody stated.

“Disappointed obviously with how last week went, but as I said, it’s very much in our own hands whether we make the league final now or not. We’ve Meath and Galway left to go and both of them will obviously be two tough games. Happy enough with how the league is going so far.”

A senior debutant for Kerry in 2017, Carmody subsequently took a year out to go travelling before eventually returning to the Kingdom fold again for the 2019 inter-county season. A regular presence in their attack since then, she was part of their successes in Division 1 and Division 2 of the Lidl National Football League over the past two years and has won a brace of TG4 All Stars in the same period.

There has also been disappointments for Carmody in the green and gold as she was a starter for Kerry in their TG4 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship final losses to Meath and Dublin in 2022 and 2023 respectively.

She contributed 0-2 from right half-forward in the latter showpiece and came away with the same haul when the Kingdom secured a 1-8 to 0-6 win over the Jackies at Parnell Park in the opening round of this year’s NFL Division 1. For Carmody and Kerry, who are once again jointly-managed by Declan Quill and Darragh Long in 2024, this was the perfect way to move on from their All-Ireland final defeat and build towards another productive season.

“It was a very disappointing end to last year, but we had a big break there for the winter. You go away, you get a chance to go on holidays and meet up with your friends that you don’t get the chance to do when you’re in mid-season. You kind of forget about how the year ended and you try your best to just look forward to this year and training away again.

“Trying to put your best foot forward and then when it came to the Dublin game, it was just getting the dirty diesel that is accumulated over the winter out of the system. It was great that we got a win over them as well. Last year was last year and we’re fully focused on this year, and going one better.”

That league encounter with Dublin represented a significant milestone for Carmody as it was her first game since assuming the captaincy of Kerry. Taking over from 2023 skipper Síofra O’Shea, her club Finuge/St Senan’s were afforded the opportunity to nominate Carmody for this role as a result of their breakthrough senior county championship win last October.

Carmody views it as a great privilege to be able to lead the Kingdom into the battle, though she readily acknowledges that there are other leaders around her in the squad.

“Representing your club and family as the captain of the county is a fantastic honour. We have a great club back in Finuge/St Senan’s. I think it was only 2017 when we were Junior ‘A’ and we’ve kind of climbed the ranks since then.

“I’ve two vice-captains there in Anna Galvin and Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh, two incredible leaders in the group and very vocal. Outside of even them, you’ve the likes of Aishling O’Connell, Kayleigh Cronin, Eilís Lynch. You’ve got super girls there that have committed so many years to the green and gold, that everyone looks up to them on the panel as well.”

While Carmody has been kept busy on the field of play this year — she has featured in all five of Kerry’s league fixtures to date — life is also proving to be quite hectic off it.

Employed as an automation engineer with Thermo Fisher Scientific in Cork, the past few months has seen her taking up a Bachelor of Engineering course at ATU Sligo, which she is doing online due to her currently being based on the Leeside.

“It’s very handy that way, I can catch up on the lectures when I can and tip away at the assignments, but I don’t actually have to be in class. That has been a lifesaver for me. I don’t think I could do it otherwise,” Carmody added.

“Obviously we train Wednesday and Friday evenings, and you can’t be missing the trainings trying to go to lectures. That’s when it gets too much then. I’m very grateful that online courses have become much more of a big thing, so I can juggle it that way. It has been a pretty full on season so far with the captaincy, college and training hard.

“I’m living up in Cork, so there’s a good bit of commuting. It’s all go at the moment and I’m very busy, but I’m lucky enough as well that there’s another good few girls up in Cork, so we can share the driving and have that bit of banter coming down in the car. It makes those long drives much more bearable when there’s three or four of you in the car.”

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