Ladies football: Clan na gael 4-8:Eire Og 3-6
The ‘B’ final of the Wicklow Ladies Intermediate football championship turned into a well contested and exciting affair in An Tochar GAA ground on Saturday evening last.
In the early stages of the first half Eire Og looked the more confident but remained scoreless. Clan na Gael centre back Shauna Kearns eventually opened the scoring with probably the outstanding score of the game. She began the move herself, linked up with Helen Kirwan and took the return pass to open the scoring with a great goal.
Eire Og responded quickly and had points from Ellie O’Neill (2) and Elaina Fusciard to bring the sides level at the ten-minute mark.
Clan na Gael were having difficulty winning their own kick outs and Megan Healy, Katie Lawless, Kerryann Hamilton and Elaine Fusciard continued to keep the pressure on.
When Kerryann netted the first Eire Og goal to leave her side ahead by 1-3 to 1-0 it was no more than they deserved. But the Kilmacanogue/Enniskerry combination came fighting back and Laura O’Toole levelled matters when she beat Alana Johnston with a shot to the roof of the net.
Centre forward Helen Kirwan put the Gaels back ahead when she chalked up their third goal, again with a long ball in over the head of the goalie. Melissa Walsh added a point from a free to leave the Gaels 3-1 to 1-3 ahead.
Kerryann Hamilton pointed a free for Eire Og and full-forward Elaina Fusciard pulled a close in shot just wide when it seemed certain that she was about to bring the sides level again. Sophie Nolan added on another Clan na Gael point in the first minute of added time to leave the Gaels ahead by 3-1 to 1-4.
Eire Og began the second half in a determined fashion and Elaina Fusciard had the ball in the Clan na Gael net in their opening attack. Gaels responded with two Laura Shanahan points but Katie Lawless brought the sides level at 3-4 each when she scored Eire Og’s third goal.
Back came the Clan na Gael side. Laura O’Toole put them ahead with a point and when Shauna Kearns set up Laura Shanahan for the fourth Clan goal, they were now four points to the good.
The Gaels began to enjoy the bulk of the outfield possession from here on in but they were unable to show it on the scoreboard. A battling Eire Og defence, good goalkeeping from Alana Johnson and some bad misses from the Gaels attack left Eire Og within a goal of a comeback until the final few minutes.
A pointed free from Kerryann Hamilton left Eire Og just a goal adrift at 4-5 to 3-5 as we entered the final quarter. While not scoring themselves Clan na Gael closed up and closed the shutters and goalkeeper Katie Walsh, full-back Naomi Kirwan with outstanding centre back Shauna Kearns kept all Eire Og’s efforts at bay.
Laura Shanahan (2) and Laura O’Toole had the final Clan na Gael points while the final Eire Og response came from a Kerryann Hamilton free.
Clan na Gael ran out deserving winners of a sporting and enjoyable game.
Minor boys football
A lovely morning and a fabulous playing surface helped produce a cracking game of football between these two teams. A game that was played with skill and manliness throughout, both teams threw the kitchen sink at claiming this Shield title.
The game kicked off with both teams feeling each other out, with Rathnew making the better of the early exchanges and dominating possession. They went two points ahead through Reece Doyle and an Eoin Doyle free. In this period the Village men kicked a number of wides, and it made one wonder – would they rue these missed chances?
At the 10-minute mark, the Greystones men kicked in to gear. Mark Hayden got his hands on the ball around the middle third, he floated a pass in to Joe Prendergast who finished to the net. Straight from the kick out, Eire Og launched another attack. Colm Condron grabbed a ball at full forward, he managed to catch the Rathnew keeper off his line with an audacious chip shot, that could only be imagined by a young man full of confidence. Two goals in as many minutes, breathless.
True to form, the Rathnew men didn’t take it lying down. They answered straight away with two points.
Ross Quinn came storming in to the game and grabbed an impressive score. Eoin Doyle was the focal point of the Rathnew attack and he added a free. Again, Rathnew were dominating possession and needed to make it count.
After the water break, Greystones grabbed a score through Dylan Maher. The final 10 minutes of the first was hectic. Rathnew grabbed the initiative in the game when Eoin Doyle created a goal from nothing. As he stood over a 14-yard free, everyone in Avondale thought it was a tap over – not Eoin Doyle. He slammed it to the top corner of the net. Scott Devlin and Doyle added points for good measure.
Challenge accepted by the Eire Og men. In the 28th minute, Colm Condron snook in behind the Rathnew defence, found Joe Prendergast who tapped his own rebound to the net. Prendergast added two frees, while Taylor Sullivan got in on the act. A rapid finish from Eire Og to leave them leading by 3-5 to 1-6 at the break.
The second half was a more end-to-end affair. Straight from the throw in, Joe Prendergast popped over a score. It was answered with aplomb by William Moorehouse for Rathnew. Eoin Doyle chipped over another free for Rathnew.
Greystones answered by grabbing their fourth goal of the day. Taylor O’Sullivan turned over the ball in the Rathnew half and delivered to Colm Condron who dispatched to the net. Rathnew dug in – they answered through Ross Quinn and an Eoin Doyle bomb of a free. They needed a goal and a goal they got. Ross Quinn took the ball from a kick out and sliced through the Greystones defence before slotting a shot to the bottom corner.
Water break number two – game on, three points in it. Rathnew substitute Ewan Culbert gets a score to make it a two-point game. We then entered a period of the game where all structure was abandoned and these teams went at it.
Rathnew were forced in to a change in goals early on due to injury, but the replacement goalkeeper Sam Healy earned his stripes with a string of outstanding saves, to keep the game alive. At the other end Fionn Melia took a ball from the goal line for the Greystones men.
Eoin Doyle pulled Rathnew to within two and they were pushing hard. The Greystones men were counter attacking at serious pace, lead by an impressive Joe Prendergast. He launched a ball in to Taylor O’Sullivan, who finished to the net. With seconds left on the clock, it was a death knell in this game.
Eire Og the winners of a fabulously entertaining game.
Man of the Match: Joe Prendergast (Eire Og Greystones).
Minor hurling preview
When North Wicklow Gaels meet Bray Emmets in the Minor ‘A’ Hurling Championship final this weekend, it will represent a multi-year project for the Kilcoole/Eire Og/St. Patrick’s amalgamated team.
Whereas, a few years ago, it was sometimes the case where the different groups of players from the different clubs would have separated themselves into their individual groups, now, it is one united group of players with the same ambitions.
‘The very, very first training session, you could’ve walked onto the field in Kilcoole and find anyone who was Eire Og and who was Kilcoole, they were yards away from each other,’ said Karl Cooke, North Wicklow Gaels manager.
‘It literally was as simple as put bibs on some lads and some on others and getting to the drills. We had quite a decent strength and conditioning program for them, so they are all tired together. They were all kind of focused on what they were doing, rather than focus on who they were or where they came from. Everyone was in it together.
‘I think what helped us a lot was that we organised a lot of challenges matches, and we entered the Leinster league; there is a kind of cross-border league in Leinster. The more games they played together, the more they became a team.’
When discussing their opponents for this weekend, Bray Emmets, Cooke is quick to be complimentary of the work that is being done by Michael Roddy and his management team, while insisting that past results will have no bearing on what happens when the two teams lock horns this weekend.
The last time Bray and North Wicklow Gaels crossed paths was at the end of August, when the Gaels swept Emmets aside in a 25-point, 7-11 to 1-4 drubbing, although Cooke said that that game will have no impact on their own preparation.
‘This season’s game is a bit of an odd one, to be honest with you. It came towards the end of the season, they were missing a few people, but look back over our previous meetings with them, there has barely been a puck between us.
‘I wouldn’t read a lot into the game we played them this year. They’re good side.
‘They’re always trying to play the game very well. They’re very good at hooking and blocking, in particular.
‘They’re very accurate in blocking, so we have to move it a bit quicker and smarter.
‘I’m completely treating [the last game] as an outlier, to be honest with you. They were missing their goalkeeper, they had a few lads on the sideline in boots and crutches. If we took our goalkeeper out and a few key players, it’s a completely different set-up.
‘They came very strong at the end of the season. That win over Michael Dwyer’s was a very good win for them. If they are capable of doing that to Dwyer’s, they’re capable of doing that to anyone. It’s only right that we ignore that blip in the championship.’