No rel­e­ga­tion wor­ries as Wick­low see off Lim­er­ick

Wicklow People - - SPORT - DOMINIC LEECH


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).

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