Ah­erne scor­ing burst leads Dublin charge

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - GAELIC GAMES - DR HYDE PARK

CAP­TAIN Sinéad Ah­erne fired Dublin into a fifth straight TG4 All-Ire­land Ladies se­nior foot­ball fi­nal as the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons made short work of Gal­way’s chal­lenge to set up a fourth de­cider with Cork in five years.

Ah­erne — who’s now scored 4-24 in the 2018 cham­pi­onship — bagged all of her 2-4 in the open­ing half to add to a Ni­cole Owens open­ing goal as the Con­nacht cham­pi­ons never found their feet in this last-four clash at Dr Hyde Park in Roscom­mon. Stephen Glen­non’s Gal­way had hoped to reach a first fi­nal since 2005, but with Ah­erne and Co on song, Mick Bo­han’s side main­tained their un­beaten run.

The early mo­ments of this match sug­gested it could be a long af­ter­noon for Glen­non’s Gal­way and when Owens blasted to the roof of Lisa Mur­phy’s net af­ter just four min­utes Dublin were off to the best pos­si­ble start.

A free from cap­tain Tracey Leonard two min­utes later got Gal­way up and run­ning, but the re­tort from Dublin was im­pres­sive, with Ah­erne on tar­get with three points in­clud­ing two ex­cel­lent ef­forts from open play to put her side 1-3 to 0-1 ahead.

The Gal­way for­ays for­ward were few and far be­tween at that stage as they strug­gled to match Dublin phys­i­cally but from one good at­tack from mid­fielder Sarah Con­neally landed a huge score for her side.

Yet again Dublin were in­ci­sive in at­tack though and Ah­erne was on hand to punch to the net af­ter some ex­cel­lent work in the build-up from 2017 Se­nior Play­ers’ Player of the Year Noelle Healy af­ter 13 min­utes.

An Ah­erne free had Dublin eight points clear by the 17 th minute, and the cap­tain pushed her side even fur­ther ahead eight min­utes be­fore half-time from the penalty spot. A tug by Sarah Lynch felled the St Sylvester’s at­tacker, who bril­liantly found the top cor­ner from the penalty.

An ex­change of scores meant Dublin were 3-5 to 0-3 ahead at half-time, but they showed their in­ten­tion to wrap up the win early as Owens and Lyn­d­sey Davey split the posts in the open­ing ex­changes af­ter the break.

Gal­way’s top scorer from play this sea­son, Leanne Coen, kicked her first of the game and she was fol­lowed by Tracey Leonard as Gal­way landed back-to-back scores for the first time. An­other Leonard free cut Dublin’s lead to ten points with 18 min­utes re­main­ing, but in the 46th minute Dublin drew a line un­der this game when Siob­hán McGrath and Healy linked and Davey palmed to the net.

Olivia Divilly hit the net for Gal­way nine min­utes from time, while a cou­ple of frees closed the gap to six points with four min­utes re­main­ing.

Dublin fin­ished the game with 14 play­ers when Lau­ren Magee was yel­low-carded but sub Amy Con­nolly’s score ended Gal­way’s hopes.

Scor­ers – Dublin: S Ah­erne 2-4 (1-0 pen, 2f), N Owens 1-1, L Davey 1-1, C Rowe 0-1, A Con­nolly 0-1. Gal­way: T Leonard 0-7 (6f), O Divilly 1-0, S Con­neally 0-1, L Coen 0-1, M Seoighe 0-1 (1f) Dublin: C Trant; L Caf­frey, N Collins, S Fin­negan; S Goldrick, S McGrath, M Byrne; O Carey, N McEvoy; C Rowe, L Magee, N Owens; S Ah­erne, N Healy, L Davey. Subs: A Con­nolly for Rowe (38), J Dunne for Owens (41), H O’Neill for McEvoy (47), D Mur­phy for Byrne (49), O Whyte for Davey (52).

Gal­way: L Mur­phy; F Cooney, S Lynch, S Burke; E Fla­herty, N Ward, C Cooney; A McDon­agh, C Cormi­can; S Con­neally, T Leonard, L Ward; O Divilly, R Leonard, L Coen. Subs: L Gan­non for C Cooney (20), M Seoighe for S Con­neally (35), E Reaney for R Leonard (46), N Con­nolly for Lynch (46), S Lynch for Fla­herty (47-51 blood).

Ref­eree: S Mul­vi­hill (Kerry)

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