Monday, August 25, 2014

Ladies Senior Football Final: Connacht Ladies v Tir na nOg

Tir na nOg 3-10 Connacht Ladies 1-13

Back on Top - Tir na nOg Senior Football Champs
Tir na nOg and Connacht Ladies played a tremendous senior final.  Unbeaten this year, Tir na nOg were pushed all the way by the defending champions, who looked out of contention a few short weeks ago.  Each side dug deep when the chips were down in the second half, and it was late second half goal by Roisin Leonard that proved to be the difference between the teams in the end.

Intense Stuff in the Ladies Senior Football Final
Two Shauna Jackson goals in the opening period had Tir na nOg ahead of Connacht Ladies.  Playing at corner forward Jackson stole behind the defence on two occasions to finish well.  The first came mid-way through the half, and the second just after back to back points for the reigning champions drew them within two points.  Jenny Byrne punished fouls by the Connacht back line with five points from frees. 

Connacht were a match for their unbeaten opponents and played their best football of the season.  Catriona Smith at wing forward was especially effective, and Jane Ward showed some of the form of the past two years to keep their side in the game.  Catriona Foley at full forward showed well for the ball and when in possession looked dangerous.  Foley answered Jackson’s second goal with a well taken effort right from the kickout and at the break it was a two point lead for the challengers.

The second half saw each side fight for every ball and inch of space in an effort to gain the upper hand.  With fifteen minutes to go it was all square.  A Byrne free had put three points between the teams, but Connacht answered with three in a row.  The leveling score came from Joanne Conroy who was also found to be helping her defence soon afterwards.  Each set of defenders made enormous efforts to deny the opposing forward lines room to move the ball, full back Ellen Healy came out with the ball on a number of occasions for the Brighton side, and Connacht Ladies Siobhan Polly denied Tir na nOg scoring chances several times. Tir na nOg goalkeeper Niamh Hynes made two brilliant saves to prevent the defending champions from netting what would be a go ahead goal early in the second period.

A breakthrough came for Tir na nOg when substitute Roisin Leonard came up with a goal.  Leonard looked dangerous at times, and a high ball found her behind the defenders and the corner forward finished well.  Byrne followed with a pointed free and there was five points between the teams with five minutes to go.  Connacht attacked in force as the clock ticked towards the final whistle.  Aisling Kerr had a half chance that she got under and put over the bar and Tir na nOg held on to win their first senior championship since 2011.  That year the Brighton side fell to Mairead Farrell’s of Philly after a brave comeback in the final that fell just short.  Best of luck next weekend at the finals in Canton!

Tir na nOg:  Niamh Hynes, Niamh O’Neill, Ellen Healy, Amy Potts, Niamh Daly, Alison Taylor, Louise Bergin, Jane Moore, Ciara O’Connor, Lisa Leonard, Tessa Mullen, Sinead Bannon, Lisa Brick, Jenny Byrne, Shauna Byrne.  Connacht Ladies:  Caroline Heraty, Kelly Cunningham, Aisling Egan, Hazel Poff, Sinead Greene, Siobhan Polly, Emma Mulgrew, Claire McDonald, Joanne Conroy, Catriona Smith, Caoimhe Moran, Aisling Kerr, Jane Ward, Catriona Foley, Nora Morgan.

By Rory O'Donnell

No comments: