All Ireland U-16 A Championship Final


All Ireland U-16 A Championship Final

Meath v Donegal
Tarmonbarry, Co.Longford
Saturday 8th August
Throw in 2.30pm
Ref: PJ Rabbitte (Galway)

Half time score: Meath 3-05 v Donegal 2-07
Full time score: Meath 4-08 v Donegal 3-09

Meath under 16s reclaimed the under 16 All Ireland Crown in sensational style, when they overcame a tenacious Donegal side in Tarmonbarry on Saturday. Fresh from their All Ireland Minor win, Donegal who had twelve under 16 members on the minor panel that defeated Clare last weekend, were odds on favourites to prevent the Royals from completing a dream season unbeaten. The Royals had other ideas but were made work hard for the title, coming back from a seven point deficit after the first ten minutes. It’s the first All Ireland under 16 title for the Royal County since Maria Kealy lifted the trophy in 2001. Ironic then, that Kealy should be mentor to this squad of players, whose average age means most are still under 16 again next year.

Meath were behind as early as the first minute when full forward for Donegal, Geraldine McLaughlin, got off to a flyer putting the ball between the posts on three successive occasions, the first, 2nd and 5th mins. To add to Royal woes, centre back, Kellie Allen was sin binned for a high tackle. Donegal centre back, Kate Keaney added her team’s fourth point from play on six mins and Meath supporters, who travelled in large numbers, were left wondering whether it would be a bad day at the office. Jacinta ‘speedy’ Maher reassured anyone with doubts when combination play from Sinead Coyle and Bridgetta Lynch found Maher, and the O’Mahonys player found the back of the net with style and poise. However the Royal camp was rocked when Donegal scored a goal of their own on 8 mins, and added a second two mins later. Meath’s Joanna Byrne pulled one back for the Royals on nine mins to leave the score 2-04 to 1-01 after the first ten mins. Goalkeeper Samantha Monaghan came to Meath’s rescue on eleven mins but couldn’t prevent Niamh McLaughlin from adding Donegal’s fifth point. However, it was as if a switch was collectively turned on in the Royal team, Kellie Allen returned from her stint in the sin bin and the Royals began to outplay their opponents. Coyle added Meath’s second point from a free on 18 mins, while Ratoath’s Katie Callaghan made no mistake with the following kick out to add a point of her own. Geraldine McLaughlin pulled one back for Donegal from a free on twenty mins but good defending from Karen Blaney and Lauren McCann ensured that Donegal got no further ahead. Lynch demonstrated just why she was picked as Captain with a fine point on 25 mins. Although Donegal added a further point before the end of the half, it was the Royals that ended the half the happier. A foul on Maher on the 13m line was converted by Coyle on 27 mins, but two sublime goals from Oldcastle duo Lynch and Kellie Allen brought Meath right back into the chase for honours, to incredibly leave them ahead at the break, Meath 3-05 Donegal 2-07.

Meath began the second half as they finished the first, Vivienne McCormack was fouled on the 13m line and Sinead Coyle extended Meath’s advantage to two points with the resulting free. However, Donegal were not going to be beaten and responded defiantly with a goal of their own on 36 mins. Donegal put themselves a further two points in front with a well taken point from Ciara Grant and a free from Geraldine McLaughlin on 41 and 42 mins, however, this where the Royals true form was put to the test. All season they had been put to the pin of their collar and each time, had found it within themselves to push on and get the right result, surely the actions of champions. Exuding a confidence and calmness way beyond their years, the team began to pick off their scores and defend sublimely. While Donegal had their chances, the Meath defence did all they needed to do to prevent Donegal from scoring again. Leading this defensive charge was Ratoath’s McCann twins, Adrienne and Lauren. Adrienne who was wearing the number 15 jersey was employed as an extra defender and this worked to perfection as time after time Adrienne cleared the Royal lines. After Vivienne McCormack was harshly fouled on 45 mins, Coyle added a further free from a difficult angle to put two points between the teams. Then, for the moment of brilliance, Laura Dempsey was substituted for McCormack, Sinead Coyle was fouled and took the free herself. The ball looked set to be heading over the endline, but Lynch got there and from the tightest of angles put the ball in the back of the net past Donegal keeper, Niamh Mailey on 46 mins to put Royal noses back in front. An easy free missed by Sinead Coyle did nothing to stop the Royals from focusing on completing their mission, a foul on Maher was converted again by Coyle on 51 mins. This was to be the last score of the game, as the last ten mins was Donegal’s chance to win the championship. However, the Meath defence was magnificent. Cliona Murray, flanked by Lauren McCann and substitute Kate Byrne and the half back line of Megan O’Brien, Kellie Allen and Stephanie Caffrey were remarkable. No matter how hard they tried the Donegal girls couldn’t find a way past Meath’s rearguard. It finished in Tarmonbarry with Meath two point victors, Meath 4-08 to Donegal’s 3-09. In her speech, Captain Bridgetta Lynch said a special thank you to their management, Eamon Murray, Ollie Callaghan, Mary Coyle, Mary O’Shaughnessy, Eimear and Maeve Murray, Jenny Rispin and Maria Kealy.

Without a doubt, this is a special Meath squad, and they well deserved their unbeaten run to be rewarded with an All Ireland win. Their determination and never-say-die attitude has ensured that the future will be bright for this Meath team, many of whom will be back to try and defend their title next year.
Best for Meath on the day were Lauren McCann, Adrienne McCann, Stephanie Caffrey, Kellie Allen, Sinead Coyle, Máire O’Shaughnessy and Bridgetta Lynch.

Meath Team & Scorers: Samantha Monaghan, Karen Blaney, Cliona Murray, Lauren McCann, Megan O’Brien, Kellie Allen (1-00), Stephanie Caffrey, Máire O’Shaughnessy, Sinead Coyle (0-05), Katie Callaghan (0-01), Vivienne McCormack, Joanna Byrne (0-01), Bridgetta Lynch (2-01), Jacinta Maher (1-00), Adrienne McCann.
Subs: Kate Byrne for Blaney (38mins), Laura Dempsey for McCormack (46 mins), Rachel Andrews for Callaghan (52 mins), Aine Bennett for Maher (55 mins), Orla Duff, Niamh Collins, Ceilidh Dalton, Shauna Hutton, Laura Murray, Claire Carton, Kyna O’Connor, Dearbhail Ni Oistin, Rachel Fenton, Eimear McEnroe.

Donegal: N. Mailey, K. Farren, D. McNeill, A. McLaughlin, A.M Logue, K. Keaney, K. Carr, T. Kennedy, N. McLaughlin, A. Molloy, C. Grant, O. Furlong, L. Molloy, G.
McLaughlin, E. Gallagher
Meanwhile in Nenagh, the Meath Senior Ladies crashed out of the TG4 Championship after a lack lustre performance against Kerry. The Munster side set out their stall very early in the game when they found the back of the net shortly after the throw in, perhaps trying to emulate Colm Cooper last Monday against Dublin! The Royal County had gone into the game in good spirits after they put aside the challenge of Armagh the previous week. It took Meath 8mins to open their account but they never really looked like they were up to the challenge. It didn’t stop them from trying though and Grainne Nulty led the charge against the Kingdom with a personal tally of four points. Meath did all their scoring save two points in the first half, with some good teamwork and better use of the ball they were well within a shout for honours at half time, down by just four points Kerry 2-06 Meath 0-08. Having impressed against Armagh, Katie O’Brien, Shauna Bennett and Aimee Bennett continued to impress against Kerry, with O’Brien’s determination driving the team on. While many expected Meath to come out in the second half all guns blazing, it was the Kingdom that set the game alight with a fine show of score taking. Their two wing forwards, Sarah Hoolihan and Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh were inspirational, but it was Kerry’s number 15 that made the biggest impression on the game, Patrice Dennehy. Despite having a good game themselves, Maria Kealy and Claire Coffey Meath’s corner backs could not stop wave after wave of Kerry attack. Indeed Meath failed to score until 21 mins in the second half; such was Kerry’s dominance in possession. Grainne Nulty converted a free on 51 mins and substitute Lisa Keenan, celebrated her return to the Meath senior squad with a well taken point, in what was the last score of the game. Meath Championship hopes may be over for this year, but retaining Senior status was a huge boost for the team, and many can look to next year with a lot more optimism. With plenty of new younger talent to be introduced to senior county football, there is much to be done over the coming months. It finished in Nenagh 2-15 to Meaths 0-10 points.While plans against Kerry didn’t work as well as hoped, Meath were still well served by Claire Coffey, Maria Kealy, Shauna Bennett, Katie O’Brien, Elaine Duffy, Ciara Dempsey and without doubt Meath’s best player on the day and her best game this year, Grainne Nulty.

Meath Team & Scorers:
Irene Munnelly, Claire Coffey, Louise McKeever, Maria Kealy, Aedin Murray, Mary Sheridan, Aine Fagan, Jane Burke, Shauna Bennett, Geraldine Doherty (0-01), Grainne Nulty (0-04), Katie O’Brien (0-01), Elaine Duffy (0-03), Jenny Rispin, Aimee Bennett.
Subs: Ciara Dempsey for Fagan, Lisa Keenan (0-01) for A.Bennett, Orla Sheridan for Rispin, Philomena Sheridan for Duffy, Fiona Mernagh for Murray, Laura Mulvaney, Ciara Daly, Eve Wardick, Sinead McCormack, Avril Robinson, Roisin Nulty, Fiona O’Neill, Aoife Guy.

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