Thriller in Kiltoom!

Rossies edge Lilywhites to reach quarter-finals

TG4 Ladies Football All-Ireland Intermediate Championship Round 1

Roscommon 4-10    Kildare 2-14

Roscommon are through to the All-Ireland Intermediate quarter-finals following this thrilling two-point win against Kildare in a superbly entertaining contest played at Kiltoom on Sunday last.

There has been a lot of comment in the national media in recent weeks about negative football but there wasn’t an ounce of negativity to be seen in this match as the two teams drove at each other from the first minute.

At the end of the day, Roscommon’s superior firepower proved the difference between the sides and it was noticeable that Ollie Lennon’s team played a much more direct brand of football than we saw against Leitrim in the recent Connacht championship.

  Played on a dry overcast day, and on the splendid Kiltoom pitch, Roscommon led by 0-3 to no score after six minutes with Jenny Shine kicking two points and the other coming from the boot of newly crowned world boxing champion Lisa O’Rourke, who had a fine game in the middle of the field.

But Kildare got into the game in the 8th minute when the outstanding Grace Clifford powered through to score a great goal for the Lilywhites. Then, after Niamh Feeney scored a fine point for Roscommon, Kildare grabbed a second goal in the 11th minute when Aoife Rattigan crashed the ball into the roof of the net from 15 metres.

Both sides attacked with pace, and Roscommon had two goals on the board by the 17th minute. Fiona Tully was first on the mark after a great pass from Natalie McHugh on the 13th minute and four minutes later, Jenny Shine raised a green flag after a superb pass from Aisling Hanly.

  With the sides level at 2-5 apiece, Roscommon struck for goal number three in the 25th minute. Aisling McAuliffe played a brilliant pass in to Aisling Hanly and her pass was fisted to the Kildare net by Fiona Tully which gave Roscommon a 3-6 to 2-6 lead at half-time.

With Aoife Rattigan always a danger, Kildare drew level at 2-11 to 3-8 after 47 minutes. Points from Niamh Feeney and Fiona Tully edged Roscommon ahead again, but Kildare refused to lie down as Rattigan and Ciara Wheeler pointed to level the scores again with two minutes to go.

Roscommon struck the crucial score with just one minute of normal time remaining. Jenny Shine turned provider and sub Rosie Lennon applied the finish to finally break the Kildare resistance. Kildare sub Ellen Dowling narrowed the gap in injury-time with a point and Grace Clifford had a final chance in the 64th minute but her effort flew wide of the post and Roscommon survived to win in dramatic fashion.

Ollie Lennon and his selectors will be looking to shore up the defence for the tougher challenges ahead but he can be well pleased with his charges after this vital win.

“It turned out to be a bit of a shootout but we expected that. Kildare came here with their season on the line and for us we knew that if we won we were into a quarter-final. We have it all to play for next week when we play Longford to see who tops the group,” Lennon said at full-time.

“We were trying something new against Leitrim (in the Connacht final) and while it worked for 20 minutes. We played a good few challenge games since and we tried a change of style again today and we kicked the ball in a good bit more and were more direct. We have the forwards in there to do damage and that’s what happened”.

The Roscommon manager acknowledged the threat posed by the visitors: “We said it at half-time that they were going to try an isolate their dangerous forwards in the second half. We did a good job but they still had a number of chances and one at the end could have gone into the net but it was our day today thankfully,” he concluded.