TG4 Leinster Senior Championship Quater Final
By Robert Cox @Hawkfield, Kildare http://extratimethesportsreport.blogspot.ie/
The Dublin senior ladies made the short trip across the border to Newbridge and came away with a hard fought win over a gallant Kildare side to secure a Leinster semi final berth against Laois. The visitors were strong favourites coming into this tie having beaten the Lilly Whites by twenty two points the last time they met in championship action, last July. Add to that the poor form of the hosts throughout the league and one would have been forgiven for thinking that anything other than a comprehensive win for Dublin would be the outcome. Kildare under the new management of Joe O’Donoghue and John Divilly have been training hard and prepared well for this encounter so they had a certain inner belief in the camp coming into this tie that they could overturn the 2010 All-Ireland champions and though they didn’t on the day, they can hold their heads high and enter the qualifiers with some optimism.
Kildare welcomed back Brianne Leahy to the side having missed the league campaign while the Dublin line up looked as strong as ever despite losing some high profile names earlier on in the year, players such as Sinead Ahern and Amy McGuinnes were still around though so the Kildare defence knew a hard day lay ahead. When referee Des McEnery from Westmeath got the game underway both teams started at a hundred miles an hour and it took a while to settle down and who better to settle it down than the aforementioned Ahern. She received a long diagonal ball into the corner, beat her marker Aishling Savage and pointed well off the right foot for the opening score of the game for the girls in blue. Wing forward Ciara Murphy added Dublin’s second soon after before the impressive centre forward Amy McGuinness raised the white flag after a trademark burst through the middle left her with space to calmly slot over. The signs were ominous for Kildare at this stage as Dublin looked rampant but Kildare hit back with two quick fire points, both from the foot of corner forward Eimear Fogarty, the first from play, the second from a close range free, to leave one point between the sides. All the Dublin forwards looked a threat though every time they attacked and wing forward Olivia Leonard got her name on the score sheet with a point to leave two in it again. The games crucial score came next when Dublin’s full forward Niamh McEvoy found a hole in the home defence and beat goalie Mary Houlgrane with a low shot to the bottom corner. McEvoy was beginning to get into the game at this stage and was causing Kildare’s defence all sorts of problems and the goal had been coming.
In fairness to Kildare though this didn’t cause them to drop their heads, in fact they ended the half the better side and could of had a goal of their own as substitute Catherine O’Malley had her close range shot excellently saved by goalie Cliodhna O’Connor. O’Malley had latched onto the ball after a fantastic effort from team mate Fogarty rattled off the bar but having only come on as a sub, the former was a bit slow to react and though she got her shot away, she gave O’Connor in the goal time to close her down. This is a miss the Kildare management team will look back on with regret as it would have put the minimum between the sides but a pointed free from Aine Gately soon after went some way towards lifting the heads again. Up the other end Ahern and full back Savage were having a great personal battle with Savage maybe just shading it in the opening period. Ahern though is not an all-star for nothing and when she gets a chance she will punish you so it is fitting that the final score of the half went to the talented St.Sylvesters player. A point from play.
This left the half time score Kildare 0:03 Dublin 1:05. Kildare were unlucky to lose corner forward Roisin Byrne to injury early in the half and she was was replaced by Catherine O’Malley of Carbury. Byrne had looked dangerous up until that and there is no doubting it was a blow to her side. Though they trailed by five points, Joe O’Donoghues’ charges had the better of the possession around the midfield but just could not turn it into scores having played with a slight breeze in the opening half. Dublin were the happier of the teams as they left the field of play to make way for the half time entertainment. Robert Emmets v Moorefield underage girls teams battled it out for the ten minutes.
When play resumed Dublin continued where they had left off and two quick points, one from McEvoy and one from Ahern saw them begin to pull away. Kildare though showed a good attitude all game and never let anything phase them, they stuck to their task and were rewarded when their hard working captain Maria Moolick got the point her endeavour deserved. McGuinness and Ahern pointed again soon after for Dublin, who at this stage were beginning to dominate, Kildare lost their shape a bit and their forwards began to get dragged up the field, this played into Dublin’s hands. The moving of centre back Sinead Goldrick to midfield was the pivotal move for Dublin as she began to run the show from there in what was a fine personal display. Dublin played a strong running game throughout and fed their full forward line at times with precision passes. Ahern began to win balls and bring players around her into the game.
The game got a bit scrappy mid way through the second half as both sides began to make changes. This scrappiness led to some missed timed challenges and after two in close proximity, Kildare’s Brianne Leahy was yellow carded and spent ten minutes in the sin bin. This did not help her sides cause as Dublin continued to enjoy the better of the possession statistics. Kildare sub Donna Berry did inject some life into her teams performance and it was soon after coming on that she helped in assisting Aine Gately with what was a crucial score for the hosts. Gately got on the end of a well worked team move and was in for goal, only to have her shot blocked. Her chance of a goal seemed to have passed but as the ball broke she slid in and toe poked the ball home to the delight of the large home support. When Leahy returned to the play she too had a goal chance only to be denied by the in form O’Connor, once again though the ball broke to sub O’Malley but once again O’Connor saved. Deja vu. One wonders had Kildare converted those two guilt edge goal chances could they have defied all odds and beaten their metropolitan counterparts?
As good teams do, Dublin punished this and went on a scoring spree of six unanswered points with wing back Fiona Hudson(1), midfielder Sinead Finnegan(1), sub Colleen Barret(1), McEvoy(1), Olivia Leonard(1) and Ahern(1) all getting in on the act with a fine display of point taking. Kildare pulled a consolation goal back in stoppage time when Brianne Leahy, who had a mixed day, was brought down late on for a penalty when through on goal. Gemma Fay received her marching orders with a sin-binning for the tackle. Kildare called upon goalkeeper Mary Houlgrane to take the kick and up she stepped to calmly slot the ball home and send her opposite number O’Connor the wrong way. With that referee McEnery blew the final whistle and while Dublin were good value for their seven point victory, Kildare can take heart from today’s performance as they showed a great determination and never gave up. Had they been more clinical upfront who knows what might have happened. It is the qualifiers for them but for Dublin they march on to a Leinster semi final meeting with Loais. One thing is for certain, I am sure Kildare would fancy a go at this Dublin team later on in the championship. Full time score: Kildare 2:04 Dublin 1:14
Best for the winners were the excellent Cliodhna O’Connor in goal, player of the match Sinead Goldrick at centre back and Fiona Hudson on the wing. Up front was where the real damage was done though and they can thank Sinead Ahern, Amy McGuinness and goal scorer Niamh McEvoy for the bulk of the damage. For the eventual losers, Mary Houlgrane had a great game between the posts with some important saves and add to that her goal from the penalty spot and it shows her importance to the team. Unfortunately Houlgrane is a top outfield player for her club Robert Emmets and could be a useful asset if deployed their at this level. Kiri Lowry and Aishling Savage both had a solid game at the back while Joanne Timmons and Louise Keatly just about shaded the midfield battle. Maria Moolick led by example up front and though she only scored one point, she one a lot of dirty balls and never gave up. She was ably assisted by Aine Gately and Brianne Leahy.
Aine Gately 1:01 (1f)
Mary Houlgrane 1:00 (1p)
Eimear Fogarty 0:02
Maria Moolick 0:01
Niamh McEvoy 1:02
Sinead Ahern 0:04
Olivia Leonard 0:02
Amy McGuinness 0:02
Fiona Hudson 0:01
Sinead Finnegan 0:01
Colleen Barrett 0:01
Ciara Murphy 0;01
14:Maria Moolick (c)
24:Catherine O’Malley for Roisin Byrne (inj)
20:Erika Burke for Eimear Fogarty
17:Aishling Lambe for Kate Leahy
21:Donna Berry for Michelle Carey
23:Siobhan Hurley for Catherine O’Malley
19:Natalia Hyland for Amy McGuinness
23:Colleen Barrett for Ciara Murphy
18:Ailish McKenna for Sinead O’Malley (inj)
Player Of The Game:
Sinead Goldrick – Dublin
Interesting Fact: All of Dublin’s scores came from play.