Ladies face the drop after Laois defeat

TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Intermediate Football Championship

Laois 3-8    Roscommon 1-7

Roscommon’s interest in the knockout stages of this year’s Ladies Intermediate Football Championship came to a shuddering halt at a balmy Kinnegad last Sunday when Diane O’Hora’s side were outclassed by a slicker Laois outfit, who were clinical in the finishing department especially in the opening half.

Now Roscommon face a relegation play-off against Longford in a few weeks’ time as the nightmare scenario of demotion to the junior ranks comes into view.

Roscommon did tighten up considerably in defence in the second half and they never stopped trying, but the damage was already done in that opening 35 minutes.

In the first half an hour, Laois repeatedly drove down the centre of the Roscommon defence and it paid rich dividends with Mo Nerney, Fiona Dooley, Laura Nerney and Erone Fitzpatrick giving the Roscommon rearguard a torrid time.

At the other end of the field, Roscommon did have a fair amount of possession but more often than not there was a pass too many when a shot was on, and Laois were generally able to clear their lines.

In sweltering heat, the sides exchanged points in the opening five minutes through Alannah Havill and Aisling Hanly. Then after Havill had edged Laois ahead, there were three goals in three minutes.

In the 8th minute, Fiona Dooley cut through the Roscommon defence to crash home but just 90 seconds later Rachel Fitzmaurice scored a splendid goal for Roscommon to bring them back into the game. But it was only briefly, as in the 10th minute Laura Nerney ran 50 metres down the centre to blast the ball past Helena Cummins. Roscommon were in trouble in defence and especially when trying to keep tabs on Mo Nerney, who was superb in possession, but they were still in touch at half-time, trailing by 2-5 to 1-4.

  Roscommon moved their best player, Roisin Wynne, on to the Laois danger-woman Nerney and it worked really well as the Boyle woman totally blotted out her threat. But further up the field Roscommon simply could not engineer the goal chances they needed.

Indeed, the game could have been out of sight in the 35th minute when Sarah Ann Fitzgerald palmed the ball over the head of Helena Cummins, but, incredibly, Roisin Wynne swept the ball off the line for a ’45. Three minutes later, Erone Fitzpatrick was fouled but Mo Nerney’s penalty was well saved by Helena Cummins.

But the goal that Laois were threatening to score came in the 45th minute when Jane Moore, who had just returned to the field of play after a yellow card, blasted the ball to the Roscommon net and that was game, set and match. Roscommon added three points late on from subs Aoife Gavin and Sarah Scally (2) but it was too little, too late.

  A very disappointed Roscommon team manager Diane O’Hora said afterwards that her team had put in a huge effort on the day.

“The three Laois goals were lucky really and that was the difference. We rallied well and I was so proud of our girls. We suffered down the centre of our defence in the opening half and the injury to Megan Kelly was crucial. Roisin (Wynne) did well when she went back but we lost out on her attacking qualities then. It was a tough day for the girls. Now we wait to see who we will play in the relegation play-off,” she said.

Roscommon’s best performers on the day were Roisin Wynne, Rachel Fitzmaurice, Aisling Hanly and sub Sarah Scally, but this was another below-par display from Roscommon, who have had a very disappointing season and now face a relegation play-off to ensure that they remain in the Intermediate grade.

Laois: Emer Brady; Anna Healy, Amy Potts, Aimee Kelly; Rachel Williams, Ellen Healy, Laura Nerney (1-0); Fiona Dooley (1-0), Jane Moore (1-0); Joyce Dunne (0-1), Alannah Havill (0-2), Erone Fitzpatrick; Mo Nerney (0-3, 1 free), Sarah Ann Fitzgerald (0-1, free), Orla Hennessey (0-1). Subs: Sarah Larkin for Hennessey (47), Andrea Nolan for Fitzgerald (51), Roisin Larkin for Havill (53), Emily Mulhall for Dooley (58).

Roscommon: Helena Cummins; Rachel Brady, Sinead Kenny, Megan Kelly; Roisin Wynne, Aisling McDermott, Sarah McVeigh; Caroline Conway, Laura Fleming; Ellen Irwin, Kate Nolan (0-1, free), Rachel Fitzmaurice (1-0); Rebecca Finan, Aisling Hanly (0-3), Sinead Glennon. Subs: Joanne Cregg for M Kelly (18), Jenny Higgins for McDermott (24), Sarah Scally (0-2) for Nolan (40), Aoife Gavin (0-1) for Conway (47).


Referee: Brendan Rice (Down)