Second half blitz ends brave ladies’ hopes

All-Ireland U-14 Ladies Football ‘B’  semi-final Mayo ………………………… 5-11 Roscommon ………………… 3-5 Seamus Duke  Having beaten Mayo twice already in the championship this year, Roscommon would have been confident that they could complete the hat-trick and reach the All-Ireland U-14 Ladies B final at Tulsk last Sunday but it was not to be as Mayo turned in a power-packed second half to overwhelm a gallant home side in this entertaining semi-final played in perfect conditions.    The margin may have been 12 points at the end of the game but there wasn’t much sign of it in the first half when the two teams provided the big crowd with a thrilling half an hour of football, at the end of which the sides went in locked together at 2-4 each.    However Roscommon couldn’t cope with Mayo in the second half and with  Niamh Kelly and Roisin Cafferkey leading the charge, Mayo got the scores they required to win the game.   In beautiful weather conditions, the game’s first score was a goal from Sarah Duffy for Mayo after 4 minutes. By the 12th minute the visitors led by 1-3 to 0-1. Roscommon improved after that and a good point from Caoileann Byrne in the 13th minute got Roscommon going. In the 21st minute full-forward Saffron Cull finally got the ball into the Mayo net after two good saves from their goalkeeper, Sarah Cummins.   Saffron Cull grabbed another Roscommon point in the 28th minute and then on 30 minutes Caroline Gunning scored an excellent Roscommon goal, having run 30 metres with the ball before rattling the Mayo net with a fine shot. Now Roscommon led by 2-3 to 1-4.   But Mayo were not lying down. Brilliant corner-forward Roisin Cafferkey grabbed the ball 40 metres from goal in the 31st minute and set off on a solo run. She beat three Roscommon defenders before hammering home a great goal and the first half scoring was completed by Judy McDermott who got a good point for Roscommon in the 33rd minute to leave it Roscommon 2-4 Mayo 2-4 at half-time.   The second half was all Mayo as they swept past Roscommon and into the final. In the 2nd minute Fiona Treacy bundled the ball over the Roscommon line for their third goal and then Laura Keane scored Mayo’s fourth goal in the 8th minute before points from Niamh Kelly (2), Roisin Cafferkey and Ciara Carthy added to Roscommon’s gloom. Caroline Gunning’s point in the 14th minute was Roscommon’s only score as Mayo were now rampant.   Grace Kelly converted a penalty for Mayo in the 24th minute and a minute later Fiona Treacy was on target with a point from play. Roscommon did score a consolation goal in the 29th minute when sub Orla O’Neill was on target, but but it was too little too late.   For Roscommon, Bronagh McHugh, Gillian Dufficy, Dareca Byrne, Rebecca Coyle, Caroline Gunning, Kayleigh Dunning and Saffron Cull were best but they just couldn’t cope with Mayo in that second half.   For Mayo, there were many fine performances but I will pick out two special players on the day, namely Niamh Kelly and Roisin Cafferkey, who, despite being the smallest player on the pitch, showed a wonderful array of skill and determination. She was a joy to watch as she terrorised the Roscommon defence throughout.   It was a disappointing end to the championship for Roscommon but there are lots of good signs for the future and there is plenty of excellent talent at this level in ladies football in the county. Note: There were a few complaints from Mayo officials about the venue last Sunday and they questioned as to why the match was fixed for Tulsk. I have to say that the arrangements for the match were top class. The pitch was in fantastic shape and the fixture was ran very well and there wasn’t a hitch. Well done to all concerned. Mayo: Sarah Cummins; Melissa Nugent, Ashling Henry, Sharon Lynskey; Sarah Rowe, Grace Kelly (1-0), Niamh Kelly (0-2); Linda Walsh, Laura Keane (1-1); Ciaran Carthy (0-2), Amy Bell, Sarah Duffy (1-1); Aoife McHugh, Marie Walsh (0-1), Roisin Cafferkey (1-3). Subs Fiona Treacy (1-1) for Marie Walsh, Jessica Callaghan for Sarah Duffy. Roscommon: Rachel Timothy; Louise Cox, Bronagh McHugh, Sorocha Dowd; Laura Fleming, Gillian Dufficy, Dareca Byrne; Rebecca Coyle, Ciara O’Murchadha Flynn; Caroline Gunning (1-1), Shona Tiley, Judy McDermott (0-1); Kayleigh Dunning, Saffron Cull (1-1), Caoileann Byrne (0-2). Subs: Rebecca Naughton for Judy McDermott, Aoife Gaynor for Gillian Dufficy, Orla O’Neill (1-0) for Shona Tiley, Gillian Wall for Aoife Gaynor. Referee: Keith Delahunty (Tipperary).