Railyard end AGB’s Leinster title dreams
THE LADIES from Arklow travelled to Clough in Kilkenny last Sunday to take on the Kilkenny champions Railyard in the Leinster semi-final.
The Gers knew they were facing a tough challenge against a very experienced Railyard side; however the seasiders were full of confidence after beating Garrycastle of Westmeath in the opening round and having trounced Myshall of Carlow in the quarter-final. As Arklow took to the field they were greeted by the huge travelling support.
As the game started, it was clear that Railyard meant business and they were first on the scoreboard with a point by their full-forward. They added a second and third point moments later.
Railyard had adopted a five man forward line which seemed to be working well for them. After the opening few minutes AGB began to settle into the game and were awarded a free in front of the goals after some good work by Naomi Ryder, Caitriona Byrne and Claire Kavanagh, with Aife Kavanagh pointing the resultant free.
Arklow won the ball well at midfield and Aine Byrne sent in a superb pass to Aisling Byrne who crashed the ball off the upright, Michelle Kinsella was waiting for the rebound and sent the ball over the bar for Arklow’s second score of the day.
Railyard won the kickout and came storming down the field to slot another point over the bar.
However, AGB responded extremely well and took the lead for the first time in the game with a goal by Jessie McEleron which came straight off the training field after some excellent passing by Rachel Byrne, Ailbhe Carney and Lorraine Byrne.
However, Arklow seemed to lose their composure as Railyard completely dominated the remaining ten to 15 minutes and put the seasiders’ backline under severe pressure. Arklow trailed at the break by seven points.
AGB needed to get a good start to the secondhalf but unfortunately it was Railyard who got the better start slotting over three points to leave them leading by ten.
Arklow were in serious trouble at this stage and it looked unlikely that they would be able to claw their way back into the game. To their credit however the girls never gave up and kept fighting for every ball.
They were rewarded for their hard work when Aife Kavanagh and Michelle Kinsella - who was having a great game – added two more points.
Arklow were thrown a lifeline moments later when Jessie McEleron crashed the ball into the back of the Railyard net. This completely lifted the Arklow Gers and proved that they were not ready to give up just yet.
The Arklow backline for the first time in the game, started to dominate and take control in particular Orla Byrne and Sam Kelly. Linda Dempsey in the goals kept Railyard from scoring a certain goal making a superb block after the ball had come twice off the upright.
Helen Hurley was hassling and harrying Caitriona Grace who up until that point was having an outstanding game at centre-forward for Railyard. With ten minutes to go it looked as though time was running out for Arklow but up stepped Tanya MacDonald who proved just what a class act she was, by sending the ball passed the Railyard ‘keeper who had no chance of stopping it. Railyard responded with two points and looked as though AGB were dead and buried with only three minutes remaining, but Arklow never gave up and Caitriona Byrne won a free at midfield and sent the ball into MacDonald who linked up well with Aisling Byrne and took the return pass to score her second goal of the game to leave just three between them.
It looked as though Arklow might just be able to draw level the game but unfortunately it was not to be as Railyard dug deep and finished off the game with two goals in the fifth minute of injury-time.
As the referee blew the final whistle it was heartache for Arklow who had worked so hard and relief on the faces of Railyard.
It brought a great journey to an end for this year for AGB who had won their first ever Senior title.
Arklow Geraldines Ballymoney: Linda Dempsey, Aisling Byrne, Helen Hurley, Rachel Byrne, Sam Kelly, Aine Byrne, Naomi Ryder, Caitriona Byrne, Ailbhe Carney, Claire Kavanagh, Jessie McEleron, Lorraine Byrne, Aife Kavanagh, Tanya MacDonald, Michelle Kinsella. Subs used: Orla Byrne, Lisa Reese and Molly Mordaunt.
Arklow Geraldines Ballymoney, who lost in to Railyard in the Leinster semi-final.