Champions again! Ladies retain Connacht crown

 

 

 

 

TG4 Connacht Ladies Football Intermediate Championship Final

Roscommon 3-12

Sligo 2-9

 

 

Elvery’s MacHale Park is fast becoming a popular venue for Roscommon GAA fans following this latest excellent victory for the Primrose and Blue. Michael Finneran’s well-drilled side showed a clean pair of heels to Sligo to record their second provincial title on the trot after this enjoyable decider played in a downpour last Sunday.

  The well-worn cliché ‘goals win games’ is very apt here and three very well taken efforts, scored either side of half-time were key. Even though Sligo did stage a late rally of sorts, Roscommon were always in control and they won rather easily in the end.

  With Sinead Kenny and Jenny Higgins in control at midfield, and Rebecca Finan, Siobhan Tully and Rachel Fitzmaurice very sharp up front, Roscommon always looked dangerous in attack. But the basis for this excellent performance was laid in defence where Tess Murtagh Amanda McLoone and Alice Kelly were outstanding.

  In very wet conditions, the sides shared four points in the opening eleven minutes with Rebecca Finan scoring both Roscommon points from play. But Roscommon’s accurate passing and running game was beginning to tell and points from livewire Rachel Fitzmaurice, Rebecca Finan (a free) and two great points from Jenny Higgins saw the gap at four by the 16th minute.

  An Elaine O’Reilly pointed free narrowed the gap in the 17th minute before Siobhan Tully burst through and was one-on-one with Noelle Gormley but the Sligo net-minder made a superb save and tipped the ball over the crossbar.

  But the goal that Roscommon were threatening came in the 28th minute. Natalie McHugh, Jenny Higgins and Siobhan Tully were all involved in a scintillating move and Rachel Fitzmaurice rounded the goalkeeper before slipping the ball to the Sligo net. A Sligo point from Lauren Boles in the 30th minute ensured that Roscommon went in at half-time leading by 1-7 to 0-5.

  It was in the first five minutes of the second half that Roscommon put this game to bed as a contest. Natalie McHugh (play) and Rebecca Finan (free) pointed within two minutes, and on the kick-out Siobhan Tully made another searing run before setting up Rebecca Finan to fist home. In the 34th minute Elaine O’Reilly pointed a free for Sligo but it was only brief respite for the Yeats County. This time it was Rachel Fitzmaurice who did the heavy lifting with a brilliant run and Jenny Higgins applied the finish for Roscommon’s third goal. It was just the 40th minute and the defending champions were twelve points to the good (3-9 to 0-6).

  It was inevitable that Roscommon were not going to be able to keep up that pace, and so it proved. Sligo were awarded what looked to be a harsh penalty in the 42nd minute, which was converted by Elaine O’Reilly. Points from Rebecca Finan (free) and Jenny Higgins kept the pot boiling for Roscommon. In the 47th minute Emma Keaveney scored a second Sligo goal but Roscommon never looked in trouble and late points from Jenny Higgins and Rebecca Finan ensured that there was no late scare.

  Indeed, Sinead Kenny fisted home another Roscommon goal on the final ‘hooter’ which didn’t count but it was an excellent display from Roscommon who thoroughly deserved the win.

  Roscommon manager Michael Finneran was understandably thrilled that the team had put provincial titles back-to-back.

  “It was quite a measured performance from us. We got our noses in front early and we struck for the goals at vital times and we looked dangerous when we were going forward. Overall it was a very good win against a team that has caused us a lot of trouble this year. It was a sweet victory.

  “The goals were so important and they were moves that we had worked on in training and it’s great when they comes off in a game. It’s a testament to the girls the way they stuck to their game plan no matter what was happening.

  “It is a huge win for this group. Last year was big but in some ways I think this win is even bigger. We can’t be called a flash in the pan any more, and we were playing second fiddle to the likes of Sligo for years but no more. It’s massive for the girls and hopefully a springboard to move on to greater things now,” he concluded.

Roscommon: Helena Cummins; Honor Ennis, Amanda McLoone, Tess Murtagh; Niamh Feeney, Alice Kelly, Sorcha Bruen; Jenny Higgins (1-3), Sinead Kenny; Siobhan Tully (0-1), Alanna Hanmore, Natalie McHugh (0-1); Rachael Fitzmaurice (1-1), Laura Fleming, Rebecca Finan (1-6, 3 frees).

Subs: Joanne Cregg for Hanmore (h/t), Rachel Brady for Feeney (42), Megan Kelly for Bruen (44), Sinead Glennon for McHugh (52), Katie Daly for Fleming (57).

 

Sligo: Noelle Gormley; Aoife Morrisroe, Michelle McNamara, Jacqui Mulligan; Nicola Brennan, Bernice Byrne, Anne Marie Coleman; Ruth Goodwin, Laura-Ann Laffey; Ciara Gorman, Lauran Boles (0-2), Sinead Naughton; Elaine O Reilly (1-5, 1-0 pen, 4 frees), Emma Keaveney (1-0), Lisa Casey (0-2).

Subs: Claire Dunne for Coleman (38), Kelly Ann Henry for Morrisroe (40), Sarah Reynolds for Gorman (46), Una Higgins for Naughton (51), Rachel Monaghan for Casey (57)

Referee: Mel Kenny (Mayo)