HAVING been pipped by Meath in the Divison 1 final earlier in the year, Kildare ladies had every right to fancy their chances of gaining revenge against the Royals last Sunday. And despite a bright start in their second consecutive Leinster junior final, Kildare were blown away by their opponents in the end, writes Robert Catterson.
On a glorious sunny day, in Ballykelly, Kildare had the advantage of the helping breeze throughout the opening half hour and they looked as though they might make full use of that in the game’s first attack after just 90 seconds.
A good passing move led to Siobhan Hurley being put through on goal but the Johnstownbridge player failed to connect when an early goal looked on the cards.
Kildare did register the first score of the game on three minutes though when Suzie O’Carroll pointed from a free and they looked as though they were going to have a good afternoon ahead when some neat passing ended with Angela Lyons pointing in good style on seven minutes.
Two points to the good and Kildare looked as though they meant business. But that was as good as it would get for the Lilywhites and in fact, they wouldn’t score again until first half injury time.
For the next 25 minutes, it was pretty much all Meath and they got off the mark when their star captain Jane Dolan scored the first of her six points on nine minutes before midfielder Aileen Donnelly leveled matters soon after.
On 12 minutes, Sinead Hackett put the Royals ahead for the first time in the game and Meath never looked back from there onwards. Dolan would double her tally for the afternoon on 13 minutes before a stylish Kate Hackett point made the scoreline read 0-5 to 0-2 in Meath’s favour.
It wasn’t all Meath at this stage however and Kildare should have hit back through Suzie O’Carroll but on two different occasions, the Celbridge native failed to find her range when she would have been expected to.
With 25 minutes played however, Kildare’s hopes vanished. A high ball into the Kildare square from Meath’s Sinead Hackett gave the Kildare rearguard plenty of reason to worry and after a flurry of scrappy exchanges, Aoife McGuire was on hand to poke the slioter into the Kildare net.
That put six points between the sides and Meath looked near out of reach. Jane Dolan would add to Meath’s tally with a free on 29 minutes before Kildare finished the half just like they started with a brace of points through Susie O’Carroll.
That left them trailing by five points on a scoreline of 1-6 to 0-4 at half-time.
If Kildare had any hopes of avenging their recent losses to Meath, then they needed an explosive second half start. But playing against a dominant Meath side was never going to be easy and that was along with a prevailing breeze in the Royal’s favour.
And when Meath notched the game’s next five scores, the writing was on the wall for Kildare.
Jane Dolan added to her tally with a converted 45’ two minutes after the restart and Aileen Donnelly would point from 43 metres on 37 minutes.
A further point from Dolan and a brace of scores from Sinead Hackett would increase Meath’s deficit to ten points with 42 minutes played. Kildare did finally get off the mark in the second half through a Susie O’Carroll point on 48 minutes and despite two more Meath points shortly afterwards through Dolan and Edel Guy, Kildare gave their faithful some reason to cheer with a 52nd minute goal.
A dangerous run by Angela Lyons saw her set up Roisin O’Connell for a goalscoring opportunity before the corner forward turned her marker nicely to fire home to the left hand corner of the Meath net.
It may not have started a Kildare comeback but it did give the scoreboard a more respectable look to it at 1-13 to 1-3. Meath replied almost immediately through a third Aileen Donnelly point before Kildare’s last score of the afternoon came courtesy of Susie O’Carroll, her fifth point of this Leinster final.
But naturally enough, Meath would have the final say in this decider when one of their substitutes Maggie Randle’s shot was turned over the crossbar by Kildare ‘keeper Brid Byrne.
So not the result Kildare hoped for in this Leinster junior final but there’s no doubting that they came up against worthy champions in Meath, who thoroughly deserved their second Leinster junior title on the trot.
Brid Byrne, Niamh Breen (C), Aoife Trant, Niamh Concannon, Clodagh Flanagan, Carol Nolan, Gillian O’Hurley, Louise Walsh, Orla Bambury, Siobhan Hurley, Angela Lyons (0-1), Susie O’Carroll (0-5), Fiona Trant, Louise Keatley, Roisin O’Connell (1-0). Subs: Cliodhna McSweeney for Walsh (34 mins), Clodagh Farrell for Fiona Trant (34 mins), Jane O’Donoghue for Breen (43 mins), Elaine McNamara for Aoife Trant (57 mins).
Emily Mangan, Niamh Guy, Aoife Thompson, Fiona O’Neill, Aine Keogh, Kristina Troy, Holly Geraghty, Aileen Donnelly (0-3), Clare Coffey, Jane Dolan (0-6), Aoife McGuire (1-0), Edel Guy (0-1), Lizzie Lynch, Sinead Hackett (0-3), Katie Hackett (0-2). Subs: Maggie Randle (0-1) for Lynch (43 mins), Lisa Foley for O’Neill (55 mins), Aishling McLoughlin for McGuire (57 mins), Laura Maguire for Katie Hackett (59 mins), Rachael Brown for Niamh Guy (59 mins).