Talented Wicklow Minors lose out to Kildare
A dissapointed Emily O'Reilly of Wicklow is consoled by Kildare's Georgina Canavan after the Ladies leinster MFC semi final in Aughrim.
AUGHRIM played host to the first of the Leinster Minor B semi-finals when Wicklow entertained Kildare last Saturday.
The conditions were dry but a strong breeze blew towards the dressing room end and favoured Wicklow in the opening half.
Referee Mags Doherty from Wexford threw in the ball and within the first three minutes Wicklow led 2-01 to 0-00 as Rachel Byrne and Orlaith Whelan opened the scoring for the Garden County side.
Wicklow's Molly Cullen (Blessington) and Amy Murphy (An Tochar) were winning a lot of midfield possession throughout the first half.
However the wind was having a telling effect and Wicklows full forward line seemed intent on moving outfield.
The long balls sent in by their midfielders were carrying beyond the forwards and were comfortably dealt with by the Kildare defence.
Kildare had been visibly rocked by Wicklow's confident start but in fairness to their players at no stage did they panic.
They played the ball through the hands against the wind and continued to chip away at the Wicklow lead and by half time had reduced the lead to five points with the score reading Wicklow 2-05 to Kildare's 0-07.
The second half started and Wicklow again took the initiative grabbing a goal by Rachel Byrne but at this stage Kildare's forward division were starting to punch holes in the Wicklow defence and despite the stalwart efforts of Sarah Jane Winders and Rose Fagan Wicklow were leaking points.
Then came the goal that Kildare had threatened but had been a while in coming.
It was scored by the best forward on view, Mikaela McKenna - the Carbury forward powering home past Beck Cassin in the Wicklow goal following good work by Shauna Kendrick.
Wicklow then had a purple patch and created and spurned several scoring chances.
Kildare were continuing to be very economical with their shooting clipping over points when the opportunities presented themselves.
The match entered the final quarter with Kildare holding the initiative but a powerful lung bursting run by St. Patrick’s’ Rose Fagan, when she carried the ball half three quarters the length of the pitch, before transferring to Orlaith Whelan who buried the ball to the Kildare net left the minimum between the teams. As full time approached and one minute left on the clock the match was deadlocked at 4-06 to 115. It seemed the match was destined to end in a draw.
However in the final minutes Kildare reeled of five unanswered points under pressure to ease themselves into a Leinster final against either Offaly or Meath.
The Wicklow players who had given there all were distraught at the final whistle thinking of what might have been but they have no reason for distress.
The management of Damien O'Brien, Martin Fitzgerald and Jess Carroll tried to rally the players.
They had played a fantastic match and in truth the game could have gone either way.
If Wicklow had been playing against the wind in the first half then who knows? However the struggle of playing the second half against the strong wind together with the strength and ability shown by Kildare proved too much.
Wicklow had tried mightily hard but in truth having scored 2-01 in the first two minutes they struggled thereafter and five points (albeit two further goals also) in the remaining 58 minutes probably proved their undoing.
However that was not to say they were not close to victory - they were. Perhaps the fact that Kildare had played matches in the higher division stood to them.
But the Kildare forwards, who notched up 21 scores, only three of which were frees, probably shaded the match over the 60 minutes.
In defeat Wicklow were best served by Rose Fagan, Rachel Byrne, Orlaith Whelan, and Jessie Byrne while the midfield duo of Molly Cullen and Amy Murphy tried their hearts out over the hour.
Wicklow: Becky Cassin, Ciara Stokes, Sarah Jane Winders, Saoirse O'Reilly, Áine O'Keefe (0-01), Rose Fagan, Sarah Fennelly, Amy Murphy, Molly Cullen (0-01), Jessie Byrne, Georgina Canavan (0-01), Megan Kelly, Orlaith Whelan (2-01), Ciara Byrne (0-01), Rachael Byrne (2-01). Subs: Meghan Keogh, Orfhlaith McNulty, Mary Healy, Emily O'Reilly, Katie Charles, Jade Manley, Jess Scott, Emma Callaghan, Aimi Healy
Kildare: Natasha Murphy, Gráinne Lyons, Lydia Furey, Niamh Lawlor, Elaine Marron (0-01), Tara Hallinan (0-01), Rachel Reidy, Emma Wheeler, Amy McGrane, Shauna Kendrick, Ailish Heavey (001), Niamh Mulhall (0-03), Caoimhe O'Fearghail, Mikaela McKenna (107), Orlaith Kirwin (0-01). Subs: Niamh Flynn, Áine Dunne, Bríd Farrell, Gemma Hartnett, Anna Lawless, Ellen Dowling (0-06), Laura Scales, Emily Aulsberry, Danielle Clerkin, Becky Johnston, M Scully.
Kildare's Niamh Mulhall and Wicklow's Saoirse O'Reilly battle for posession in Aughrim.
Wicklow's Orlaith Whelan reaches the ball ahead of Kildare's Niamh Mulhall during the Ladies leinster MFC semi-final in Aughrim.
Kildare's Laura Scales puts pressure on Wicklow's Sarah Jane Winders.
Kildare's Amy McGrane is beaten to the ball by Wicklow's Rose Fagan.