Tir na nOg 2-8 Connacht Ladies 3-8
There was a place in the final to play for when Tir na nOg faced Connacht Ladies in the Ladies Senior Football championship, though the losers would have a date with Boston Shamrocks in a semi final in two weeks time. Connacht Ladies rode a 3 goal start to the game all the way to the end and emerged winners after a tremendously exciting second half. Each side battled with all the determination that could be mustered, and although the gap was narrowed to a single goal, Tir na nOg could not get over that final hurdle.
|Connacht Ladies Tori McLaughlin in full stride.|
Connacht Ladies started the game at a blistering place and had banged in three goals before Tir na nOg had had a chance to gather themselves. Ruth Cox netted twice, for the first Cox leaped high to slam a floated ball across the box into the net. A second came from a high ball that dropped into the back of the net, while Jane Ward added a third to leave their opponents reeling.
After recovering from the 3 goal salvo, Tir na nOg had the better of things in the latter stages of the half. Lisa Brick, who lined out at full forward, netted and points went over from the boot of Shauna Jackson and Chloe Ryan. Louise Bergin and Maggie Sayers battled hard in defence as Tir na nOg came to grips with the Connacht forward line and the Brighton side had had reduced the difference to 5 points by half time. The teams took the break with a score of 3-4 to 1-5.
|McLaughlin chases Tir na nOg's Lisa Brick as referee Michael Dennehy keeps up with the play.|
The intensity of the game picked up in the second half. After Ward had added a point for Connacht ladies, Tir na nOg hit with a superbly taken goal. Ryan found Jackson with just the keeper to beat and the Dubliner’s finish was stylishly curled into the bottom corner with all the aplomb of an accomplished pro.
As each defence dug in the game flowed up and down the field. Every score would be critical at this point. Cox and Nicola Donnelly each pointed to restore the 5 point gap between the sides, and Jackson pulled one back with a pointed free. There was excitement aplenty as each side’s players and supporters urged each other on, and through busting veins and gritted teeth each player dug deep to try to gain the advantage over the other.
Both teams had chances, for Connacht to put the game away and for Tir na nOg set up a grandstand finish. Another Jackson free with a point from Fiona Morissey brought Tir na nOg within a goal, however their efforts at a equalizing goal were thwarted by some tough, uncomprimising Connacht Defending. Connacht hung on to the final whistle and have a place in the final, while Tir na nOg will face the Shamrocks in the semi final two weeks from now.
Tir na nOg: N. Hynes, R. Stapleton, M. Sayers, N. Daly, A. Taylor, L. Bergin, F. Morissey, F. NiBhriain, R. Stapleton, C. Nee, S. Bannon, C. Ryan, L. Brick, S. Jackon. Connacht Ladies: J. McDonagh, J. Conroy, C. McNabb, J. McDonnell, T. McLaughlin, H. Poff, K. Lynch, C. Fitzpatrick, A. Kerr, J. O’Grady, N. Donnelly, R. Cox, J. Ward, A. McGuckin, C. McManaman.
By Rory O'Donnell