Rai­l­yard end AGB’s Le­in­ster ti­tle dreams

Bray People - - Sport -

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.

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