A SUPERB VICTORY!
No relegation worries as Wicklow see off Limerick
WICKLOW 6-09 LIMERICK 4-09
WICKLOW made the trip to Crettyard in Laois last Sunday with the three pronged purpose of defeating Limerick in their All-Ireland preliminary round, qualifying for the next round’s battle against Clare and in the process eliminate the need to venture into the unknown waters of a relegation play-off for their Intermediate life.
Of course Limerick travelled with a similar purpose in mind.
Both sides started tentatively and with so much at stake it took a while to settle although Catherine Dempsey drew first blood with a nice point following good approach work.
Kim Connors, in the Wicklow goal made the first of her many saves in the third minute when she stopped a pile driver but she was helpless to stop a fine goal by Kristine Reidy in the 10th minute. This was followed by points by Orlaith O’Donoghue and Cathy Mee to stretch the Limerick lead to 1-02 to 0-01.
The match ebbed and flowed and Connors in the Wicklow net was performing heroics between the sticks to keep out the Limerick goal bound efforts.
Similarly the Limerick defence were working hard to defy the Wicklow forwards.
However there followed a period of total dominance by the Garden county side and points by Laura Hogan, Amy Murphy and Georgina Canavan were sandwiched on either side by goals by Claire Grace and Amy Murphy.
The goal by Grace particularly seemed to settle the Wicklow side down when beating Janet Garvey in the Limerick goal with a well placed shot to the corner of the net.
Almost immediately referee Gallagher spotted an infringement in the Limerick penalty area and unhesitatingly pointed to the spot. The resultant penalty was dispatched to the net with aplomb by An Tochar’s Amy Murphy leaving the score at 3-04 to 1-03 with the half-time whistle imminent.
However, Limerick had other ideas and in a fine flowing move running the length of the pitch they narrowed the gap with a goal of their own to leave the half time score 3-04 to 2-03.
In truth the supporters of both sides had been treated to an open free flowing game in the first half and the trend was continued in the second half with both sides attacking at every opportunity.
However, it was the Wicklow side who were doing the most damage and in the first 12 minutes of the second half took a stranglehold on the game with points by Hogan and Ciara Byrne which were followed by a goal by Amy Murphy to lead by double scores 4-06 to 2-03.
Then, amazingly, in the next two minutes referee Gallagher again correctly awarded two penalties – the first to Wicklow which was again coolly guided to the net by Murphy while the Limerick penalty was also well struck past Connors in the Wicklow goal by Niamh Holland.
There then followed a period of encampment by the Limerick attack which resulted in points by Cathy Mee, Niamh Holland and Kristine Reidy.
The score was again close at 5-06 to 3-09 in Wicklow’s favour.
However, Wicklow finished the game strongly and after Marie Kealy goaled with a cheeky chip of Garvey in the Limerick goal together with the final salvo of points from Laura Hogan, Marie Kealy and Shona O’Connor the game had inexorably swung to the Wicklow side.
Limerick were unwilling to give up and pushed forward and were rewarded by a great goal by Maura Flanaghan but Connors again saved brilliantly twice in a hectic finale to the game with her dive to her right to defy Cathy Mee right on the whistle particularly noteworthy.
When referee Gallagher finally blew the long whistle, Wicklow rejoiced at their 6-09 to 4-09 victory.
Both teams had given their all and while Limerick will feel they competed well during the hour, Wicklow deservedly won the game with their forwards showing more penetration throughout the entire game.
Some of the personal duels throughout the game were worth the admission price alone – Jackie Kinch, in an unusual position at centre back, had a game long battle with the ever dangerous Cathy Mee with the honours breaking evenly.
Sarah Hogan and Shauna Byrne were also fighting hard with their opposite numbers – Niamh Holland and Maura Flanagan while at the other end the Limerick backs struggled throughout to contain Wicklow’s lively full forward line.
While there were two sinbins in the game – one to Wicklow’s Shauna Byrne and the other to Limerick’s Stephanie Nolan—the game certainly was not that type of game but rather a massively sporting game between two sides going toe to toe throughout and who gave everything in respect of their counties.
The spectre of relegation hangs over the Limerick side while Mick O’Rourke, Caitriona McKeon, Mick Kavanagh, Emer Miley and their charges can now plan for their meeting with Munster runners up Clare next Sunday at a venue to be confirmed at time of writing.
Best for a Wicklow side, who were missing Niamh McGettigan and Sarah Jane Winders, along with the injured Molly Cullen, were Shauna Byrne, Kim Connors, Aoife Gorman, hat-trick hero Amy Murphy and Aoife Gillen while the Hogan sisters also had their moments too.
It was also interesting to note that Wicklow had their youngest midfield in recent years on view in Aoife Gorman and Naoise Baker – both worked tirelessly throughout the hour.
Limerick, who were also missing influential players including the likes of Niamh Richardson and the now retired Dympna O’Brien, were never let down by the efforts of Cathy Mee, Kristine Reidy, Maura Flanagan, Caroline Hickey, and captain Olivia Giltenane and Wicklow certainly wish them well in their future games.
Wicklow: Kim Connors (Blessington), Aoife Gillen (Bray Emmett’s), Sarah Hogan (Tinahely), Emily Mulhall (Tinahely), Shauna Byrne (Blessington), Jackie Kinch (Tinahely), Jessie Nolan Byrne (Tinahely), Aoife Gorman (Tinahely), Naoise Baker (Clara), Ciara Byrne (Tinahely) 0-01, Catherine Dempsey (Baltinglass) 0-01, Georgina Canavan (Clara) 0-01, Amy Murphy (An Tochar) 3-01, Claire Grace (St. Nicholas’s) 1-00, Laura Hogan (Tinahely) 1-03. Subs ; Geraldine Norton (Baltinglass), Sarah Fennelly (Baltinglass), Alanna Conroy (Bray Emmett’s), Samantha McCoy (Clara), Helena Dowling (Baltinglass), Molly Cullen (Blessington), Shona O’Connor (Blessington) 0-01, Clodagh Fox (St. Patrick’s), Chloe Farrell (Baltinglass), Marie Kealy (Baltinglass) 1-01, Shauna Bermingham (Coolkenno).
Limerick: Janet Garvey (Monagea), Emma McGuire (St. Ailbhe’s), Ingrid Laffan (St. Ailbhe’s), Megan O’Shea (St. Brigid’s), Aine McGrath (Ballylanders), Loanne McGuire (St. Ailbhe’s), Olivia Giltenane (Mungret / St. Paul’s), Loretta Hanley (Feonagh / Castlemahon), Caroline Hickey (St. Ailbhe’s), Kristine Reidy (Feonagh / Castlemahon), Cathy Mee (Ballylanders), Stephanie Nunan (St. Patrick’s), Orlaith O’Donoghue (St. Brigid’s), Niamh Holland (St. Brigid’s), Kate Kennedy (St. Brigid’s), Meabh Kennedy (St. Brigid’s), Kate Ryan (St. Ailbhe’s), Sarah Ryan (St. Ailbhe’s), Siobhan Moloney (Oola), Claire O’Meara (Mungret / St. Paul’s, Cloda Kirby (Knockainey ), Trina O’Donnell Ballylanders), Maura Flanagan (Feonagh / Castlemahon, Brid Flanagan (Feonagh / Castlemahon), Mairead Kavanagh (St. Ailbhe’s), Kate Geary (Adare), Cliodhna Ní Cheallaigh (Mungret / St Paul’s), Shelly Walsh (Galtee Gael’s), Ashley Creamer (St Brigids).
Referee: John Gallagher (Dublin Fourth Official/Linesperson:
Niall McCormack (Laois). Linesperson: Ciara Conaty (Kildare).