History-makers Naas hang on to win Kildare minor A title

Kildare Minor A Championship Final 2017

Naas 3-11
St Laurence’s 2-12

The 2017 Minor Final was a very historic occasion on Saturday in Hawkfield, as Naas were competing in their very first Minor A Final.

To the sheer delight of players, supporters and officials, they emerged victorious after a titanic battle with St Laurence’s.

The weather conditions were rather dismal and wet but this did not detract from a most exciting and enthralling match.

Naas went on the attack from the throw in and registered the first score of the half courtesy of a Ciara Breslin point, as Kelly Riordan delivered a superb pass from her half back position.

St Laurence’s duly responded as Niamh Miley slotted over a point, and they were determined to avenge the defeat which Naas had inflicted in the group stage.

Every ball was keenly contested and Grace Kelleghan , the Naas corner forward, added another point to edge Naas ahead.

St Laurence’s kept in touch, however, as Neasa Dooley showed great accuracy with three consecutive points to tip the balance in favour of her team.

Both teams worked very diligently, moving the ball very swiftly up and down the park, and this demanded huge vigilance from both defences.

Naas pair Maria Doyle and Caoimhe Maher were particularly outstanding as they worked tirelessly to counteract the constant attack by the St Laurence’s forwards,  namely Neasa Dooley, Gillian Wheeler and Michaela Laler.

St Laurence’s defenders were also truly tested by the darting movements of the Naas forwards Lisa Shaw, Sarah Cullen and Ciara Breslin, who were rewarded for their high  work-rate with scores on the board.

St Laurence’s enjoyed a two point lead as the game entered the final five minutes of the first half, Vicky Bell and Sophie Corcoran registering two points from play.

Naas were determined to haul back the lead and Deirdre Doyle, running from her midfield position, scored a vital point on the stroke of half-time.

This left the minimum between the teams, St Laurence’s team narrowly ahead.

The half time score was St Laurence’s 0-07 Naas 0-06.

A pulsating second half was yet to unfold.

Naas introduced Katie Connolly and she certainly justified her selection as she scored the equalising point as the opening score of the half.

This was closely followed by her goal, which turned the match in favour of the Naas players.

This three-point lead was short lived, however, as St Laurence’s were determined to regain the upper hand.

Neasa Dooley was awarded a free and she made a darting run to receive the return  pass and slotted the ball to the back of the net.

The two teams were once again locked together but St Laurence’s had renewed confidence after the Naas scoring spree at the opening of the half.

St Laurence’s gained possession of the ball from the kick-out and their talented forward, Neasa Dooley, found the net for the second time.

This was immediately followed by a Niamh Miley point.

Naas were not going to yield and they worked diligently to regain their former lead as Amy Carberry and Lisa Shaw scored two fine points to leave a deficit of three points between the teams.

This was quickly followed by a great individual effort by the Naas corner forward, Ciara Breslin, who rattled the back of the net to the cheers of all the Naas supporters.

It was a drawn game for the second time on the 20th minute of the second half, and this epic match was still very much in the melting pot.

St Laurence’s leading scorer, Neasa Dooley, took the initiative once again and notched up another point, trying to bring her team over the line.

Naas had written their own script and Sarah Cullen matched this point.

It was stalemate again but this saga promised a nerve-wracking and exhilarating final ten minutes.

After many passages of play, Naas eventually worked the ball into the square and were duly awarded a penalty as their full forward was fouled.

Amy Carberry stepped up and executed the penalty very well, to give Naas a three-point lead with less than ten minutes of normal time remaining.

St Laurence’s, to their credit, battled gallantly and launched attack after attack.

They managed to haul back another point to leave two points between the teams in the end.

Naas, on the other hand, showed all of their resilience to retain the lead in this energy-sapping match, and also great character to withstand St Laurence’s immense pressure.

At the final whistle, Naas had maintained their unbeaten record in this year’s competition and were bringing back the Minor trophy and title to the County town for the first time.

This victory was a real team effort, with all the panel contributing and supporting each other on the pitch.

It was a great advertisement for Ladies’ Gaelic Football as both teams showcased all the positive attributes of this game, namely a high level of skill, sporting spirit and genuine passion for the sport.

All those in attendance at this exciting match were treated to a memorable affair and both teams should take many positives from the game.

The final was testament to the efforts of the mentors in both clubs, and the interest and diligence of all the players.

Naas : Anna Mac Gabhann, Ailbhe Moore, Clodagh Plunkett, Kate Coffey, Caoimhe Maher, Maria Doyle, Kelly Riordan, Laoise Dunne, Deirdre Doyle, Katie Loughran, Amy Carberry, Lisa Shaw, Grace Kelleghan, Sarah Cullen, Ciara Breslin, Amy Jones, Katie Connolly, Louise Murphy, Aislinn Aherne, Caoimhe Carberry and Laura Messitt.

St Laurence’s: Ciara Farrell, Ava Marron, Iona Grufferty, Muireann Mulreid, Naomi Cardiff, Ciara Downey, Jayne Redmond, Gillian Wheeler, Michaela Laler, Hazel Corrigan, Neasa Dooley, Leah Molloy, Vickey Bell, Niamh Miley, Sophie Corcoran, Jasmin Cardiff, Isobel Monaghan, Fiona Treacy, Lorna Glynn, Jade Molloy and Eimear Glynn.

Results:

Div 1. Naas 3.11 St Laurences 2.12
Div 2. Leixlip 3.10 Moorefield 1.07
Div 3. Milltown 3.12 Raheens 1.08
Div 4. Cappagh 5.10 Kill 4.10