|Louth Ladies reach All Ireland JFC Final after hard fought win over Offaly|
|Tuesday, 04 September 2012 19:43|
LOUTH 2-12 OFFALY 0-12
Una Pearson made two excellent saves in the opening minutes as the Faithful County started the brighter, while in defence Marie O’Connell was outstanding along with Anne Marie Lynch who made two vital goal-line clearances.
Offaly added points from Siobhain Flannery and a Keena free to lead 0-03 to 0-01 by the ninth minute but McGuinness pulled one back soon after and her side got a huge boost on 12 minutes when Anne Marie Murphy cut inside her marker and drilled a the ball low into corner of the Offaly net.
Murphy followed up with a point to make it 1-3 to 0-3 and although the Faithful pulled one back through Daly, Rosanna Heeney restored the three point gap. Jenny McGuinness added points either side of an Offaly reply to make it 1-6 to 0-5 on twenty minutes. Louth then enjoyed their best spell of the half and could have put the tie beyond doubt as the woodwork came to Offaly's rescue on three seperate occassions. Grace Lynch had a shot come back off a post, then a wonderful 35 yard run by Ciara O'Connor set up Kate Flood who saw her piledriver kept out by a post and AnnMaree Murphy also denyed by a post. To add to their frustrations Murphy found herself in the clear from a good pass by Rosanna Heaney only for Referee Micheal Henry not to apply the advantage as he ruled Heaney had been fouled. The Wee County also hit four wides in this spell but were looking good when McGuinness and Grace Lynch extended the gap to six points. However, Offaly gave themselves hope with the last two points of the half from Daly and Keena to go in trailing by just 1-08 to 0-07.
The Midlanders came storming out in the second half and kicked four points to level the game at 1-8 to 0-11 on 45 minutes, and it could have been better for them but for two brilliant Marie O’Connell interceptions to prevent goals.
With the pressure mounting, Louth responded in impressive fashion with Anne Marie Murphy showed her class by landing two excellent points from long range.Gillian McDonnell then shot inches wide as the game buzzed with intensity and excitment. Offaly replied through Sinead Daly, but Rosanna Heeney and McGuinness pointed to make it 1-12 to 0-12 with just three minutes remaining.
Louth piled on the pressure and again were denied as brilliant play by Kate Flood saw her beat three defenders before cracking a great shot off a post and back into the grateful arms of Offaly keeper Cunningham.
The game was eventually decided in the 60th minute when Emma Conlon fired home the decisive goal from 20 metres. The Ardee star was then denyed a second goal as her splendid effort was kept out by the woodwork.
Incredibly Louth hit the post on five occassions.
Louth’s reward for this hard earned win is a meeting with Antrim in the final in four weeks time after the Ulster side scored a 3-11 to 3-10 win over Wexford.
Louth had fine performers in goalie Una Pearson, Marie O'Conner, Lisa Kelly and AnnMarie Lynch in defence, Sandra and Grace Lynch did well at midfield, AnnMarie Murphy and Jenny McGuinness were a constant threat upfront while subs Emma Conlon and Vikki McGinn made significant contributions when introduced.
Offaly, Kelley Cunningham, Aoife Byrne, Elisha Hunston, Michelle Guinan, Christine McDonnell, Oonagh Mulligan, Eveleen Russell, Emma Dalton, Siobhain Flannery,0-01, Mairead Daly 0-04, (3f) Amy Kerrigan 0-01, Emma Corcoran, Kym Furey 0-01, Lorraine Keena 0-03(1f) Niamh Malone Subs-Therese Hickey and Sinead Daly 0-01 each
Louth Ladies coach, Paddy Curtis, praised the effort of his players as they battled through to claim a place in the All-Ireland Final.
Paddy hopes that the tough challenge posed by Offaly in Sunday’s semi-final will be the ideal preparation for the clash with Antrim in the final.
“It was a great win and the players gave everything the had on the day, and a hard game like that is just what we need ahead of the final. I don’t think there would have been any benefit in an easy game at this stage”, explained Paddy who added that the squad always knew it was going to be difficult.
“We beat Offaly in the Leinster Final and I think many people on the outside felt that this was a formality. However, we always knew we were facing a very tough challenge. They are a good side and really put it up to us, but we worked very hard and eventually got our reward.
“We told the players before the game that they had to give it everything they had as there was no second chance after this. In fairness to them, the responded as we hoped and never gave up”, he explained.
Paddy put the victory down to a combination of fitness, desire and skill which saw the team come through despite a spirited Offaly performance.
“We started back in December and our first aim was to become the fittest team. That gives us a great starting position and when you combine that with a never-say-die attitude and the undoubted ability in our team, then we are going to be hard to beat”.
Paddy and the squad will be hoping that those traits are enough to see them claim the All-Ireland title at the end of the month.
[Report: Dermot Woods]
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 October 2012 13:19|