ALL-IRELAND INTERMEDIATE LADIES FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND TWO
Cavan too strong for London
BY DAIRE WALSH
DESPITE making a promising start to the contest, the London Ladies Footballers ultimately found themselves on the receiving end of a comprehensive reversal against Cavan in a Round Two All-Ireland Intermediate Football Championship Qualifier played at Donaghmore/Ashbourne GAA Club last Saturday.
Opening quarter goals by Grainne Smith and Aisling Doonan had set the Breffni outfit on the way to their success, and although the Exiles continued to battle gamely as the game wore on, the skill and determination of their Northern counterparts was evident throughout the contest.
Tommy Donohue’s side only had two weeks to recover from their 11-point defeat (3-11 to 1-6) in the Leinster Intermediate decider against Longford at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, but they were facing a Cavan team that had been idle for seven weeks following their provincial semi-final loss against Down.
Certainly, London did look sharp in the early moments, and despite conceding the opening score of the tie to Caitriona Smith, a brace of fine scores from Parnell’s duo Renee Murphy and Shona Barry edged their team into the ascendancy.
London did suffer a blow five minutes in when pacey half-forward Grainne Smith finished low past netminder Elaine Hayes for the opening three-pointer of the game, but they continued to take the game to their Ulster rivals nevertheless, as a fine individual point by St Anthony’s midfielder Helen Hughes reduced the deficit to the bare minimum.
It had been a frenetic opening to the proceedings, but incredibly, Hughes’ seventh minute point turned out to be London’s final score of the half. Cavan were able to capitalise as a result, and full-forward Doonan’s speculative attempt from a 35-metre free ten minutes in found its way past Fr Murphy’s custodian Hayes for her side’s second goal.
Although the first major was also significant, it was at this point that the 2011 All-Ireland finalists truly started to take the initiative, and with just 18 minutes gone on the clock, they had built up an 11-point cushion thanks to fine efforts by half-back Sinead Greene (two), Claragh O’Reilly, Donna English, Doonan and Grainne Smith.
Any hopes that the long lay-off might present London with an opportunity of causing an upset already appeared relatively minute, and after Doonan (two), Grainne Smith, Bronagh Sheridan (two) and midfielder Rosie Crowe added further points to their total, they held a seemingly insurmountable 17-point advantage (2-14 to 0-3) during the interval.
It was effectively a damage limitation exercise for London after the restart, but although some of their second-half substitutions did bring some freshness to their play, they were helpless to prevent Cavan moving even further ahead, as Grainne Smith’s second goal of the day seven minutes into the half further deflated the London challenge, and when Sheridan kicked her third point with 15 minutes remaining, it meant that Cavan had registered an astonishing 2-18 without reply.
However, London finally brought a 41 minute scoring drought to a close moments later, as team captain Hannah Noonan (one of eight Parnell’s players in the starting line-up) expertly converted a 21-metre free.
Having also introduced a number of their reserve players, Cavan certainly did ease off during the closing ten minutes, and with Noonan, Niamh Murphy and Shona Barry continuing to give their all, London were more competitive during the game’s finale.
Cavan were still dangerous on the attack, though, as points from three of their best performers on the day – English, Grainne Smith and Greene – helped them to comfortably secure their place in the All-Ireland Quarter-Final, as London’s Championship adventure for 2013 simultaneously came to an end.
LONDON: Elaine Hayes; Cait McCarra, Niamh Murphy, Bernie Durkan; Caroline Benson, Sarah Quinn, Angela Kenneally; Hannah Noonan (0-1, 1f), Helen Hughes (0-1); Sinead McCooey, Renee Murphy (0-1, 1f), Shona Barry (0-1); Helen Murphy, Helen Stephens, Rebecca Mills.
Subs: Aine Flanagan for Durkan (36), Lauren Murray for Quinn (39), Shannon McDonagh for H Murphy (43), Charlotte Faughnan for R Murphy (43).
CAVAN: Caron Fay; Ciara O’Reilly, Grainne McGlade, Ciara Grey; Ailish Cornyn, Rachael Jordan, Sinead Greene (0-3); Donna English (0-3), Rosie Crowe (0-1); Grainne Smith (2-4), Claragh O’Reilly (0-1), Mona Sheridan; Aisling Doonan (1-4, 1-1f), Bronagh Sheridan (0-3, 2f), Catriona Smith (0-3).
Subs: Patricia Lynch for Grey (46), Rachel Doonan for G Smith (52), Geraldine Sheridan for Crowe (52), Debbie Gaffney for Sheridan (52), Niamh Daly for C Smith (55).
Referee: Colm McManus (Meath).