Roscommon ladies denied by late goal

Roscommon 0-8 Wicklow 2-5 The Roscommon Ladies U-14 team were beaten in the harshest of circumstances against Wicklow on Sunday afternoon last in the All-Ireland ‘B’ Ladies U-14 Championship Final played in Pearse Park on Longford.   Having fallen six points adrift of their opponents at half-time, an inspired second half display put Roscommon in a winning position with the finishing line in sight only for Wicklow to pull the game out of the fire with a goal and a point in the dying moments of the game.   It was harsh justice on the Roscommon team, who had shown great character and resolve to haul themselves back into contention having being out-played and out-scored in the opening period.   Indeed it was a very nervous Roscommon team who competed in that first half. The occasion seemed to affect their performance and it was Wicklow who grabbed the initiative in the contest early on.   Lucy Mulhall opened her team’s account and they doubled their advantage ten minutes in through a Kavanagh free for a Wicklow team who had started quite confidently.   Natalie McHugh got the Rossies’ only score in the opening period after 22 minutes before Wicklow began tagging on scores to put them in a commanding position at half-time.   Firstly Shauna Fleming was quickest to react to a Kavanagh shot which rebounded off the crossbar before she slotted over. Then Amanda Carroll found the net for the decisive score in the opening period as she profited from another goal-bound effort which rebounded off the bar.   With half-time fast approaching the impressive Kavanagh added another point from a free to leave Roscommon with a lot of work to do in the second half.   Any fears that this Roscommon team would just throw in the towel in the second half were emphatically dismissed as a transformed Rossie team took to the field on the resumption.   Natalie McHugh scored the opening point of the half in the 32 nd minute to set the wheels in motion before full-forward Siobhan Greevy kicked an impressive point only minutes later as the Roscommon challenge gained momentum.   They were playing all the football at this stage in the contest and with Maebh Holmes and Rebecca Coyle to the fore, they began launching relentless attacks on the Wicklow rearguard.   Corner-forward Aine Kelly reduced the arrears on the 40-minute mark before Roscommon hit something of a purple patch in a five-minute period which restored parity in the contest and completed the turnaround.   Three points from McHugh (2) again and the impressive Greevy levelled proceedings and Roscommon could scent victory when McHugh edged them in front with a pointed free with full-time looming.   Unfortunately for the young ladies for Roscommon, disaster struck in the final moments of the game. Carroll proved to be the thorn in Roscommon’s side as she registered her second goal in the contest as she slotted home after being played through by team-mate Kelly Keane.   More importantly it was the goal that put Wicklow back into the lead in the game and it was cruel justice on this Roscommon team. Another point from Kavanagh pushed her side even further ahead as the pendulum once again swung dramatically in this game.   There was one last chance to get something out of the game for the Roscommon team but it was not to be as Natalie McHugh saw her penalty well saved by Rebecca Condron in the Wicklow goal.   The final whistle followed to the delight of the Wicklow following as Roscommon could not believe their bad luck in a game which they certainly did not deserve to lose.   They did their county proud throughout and will live to fight another day. They should certainly be more than satisfied with their performance and only fate on the day stood between them and an All-Ireland title.  Roscommon: M. Wallace; D. Beirne, N. Yoolan, J. McGowan; G. Dufficy, M. Holmes, S. Rogers; N. McHugh (0-4, two frees), K. McLoughlin; J. Cregg, R. Coyle, C. Cummins; A. Kelly (0-1), S. Greevy (0-2), L. Brudell. Subs used: S. Deery, O. Gately (0-1), S. Naughton, K. Roddy. Wicklow: R. Condron; C. Callanan, D. Callanan, K. Crammond; S. Miley, S. Kelly, N. Roche; J. Kinch, S. Hogan; A. Doyle, S. Fleming (0-1), L. O’Grady; A. Carroll (0-2), A. Kavanagh (0-3, two frees), L. Mulhall (0-1). Subs used: S. Dowling, K. Keane, J. Hanbridge. Referee: D. McEnery (Westmeath)