Bord Gáis Energy National Ladies Football League Semi Final


Bord Gáis Energy National Ladies Football League Semi Final
Meath v Donegal
Sunday 25th April 2010 @ 3.30pm
Templeport, Bawnboy, Co. Cavan.

Half Time: Meath 1-02; Donegal 0-07
Full Time: Meath 2-06; Donegal 2-14

The old saying ‘Always the bridesmaid, Never the bride’ seems to ring true of today’s Bord Gáis Energy National Ladies League semi final between Meath and Donegal. Last year, Meath took on Waterford in the quarter final of the league and were beaten to ensure they played in Division 2 league in 2010. A full year later, Meath took on the challenge of Donegal in the semi final and the Northerners ensured the Royals a third year in Division 2 in 2011. The never say die attitude of the Royals took a bit of a knock today, but knowing the calibre of players that manager Brendan Dardis has at his disposal, they wont be long picking themselves up and immersing themselves in the preparations for the Leinster Championship, which is just around the corner.Preparations for the semi final took a knock mid week with news that Summerhill’s Jenny Rispin had broke her hand during a club game and would be out for several weeks. Rispin had been one of Meath’s consistent performers in the round robin stages of the league, and her absence was severely felt against Donegal. With Geraldine Doherty nursing a tight hamstring, Meath supporters must have wondered whether things could get any worse. Inevitably things did get worse as Donegal raced into an early three point to no score lead after 7 mins played. Yvonne McMonagle, who had terrorised Meath’s backline in Páirc Tailteann a few weeks ago, opened the scoring on three mins, but only after Meath’s goalkeeper Irene Munnelly made a superb save to deny Donegal a perfect opening. Corner forward Ailish Ward added Donegal’s second, before McMonagle added a third on seven mins. The action continued when Meath captain Philomena Sheridan foul led to Donegal being awarded a penalty. All eyes centred on Munnelly in goals, and the St. Ultans player gave Meath some hope when she saved the shot of Ward and sent the ball out for a 45′. This seemed to wake Meath up and Elaine Duffy opened Meath’s scoring on 9 mins with a superb point, and added a second one two minutes later from a free. The Donegal duo of McMonagle and Ward cancelled these points out on 16 and 17 mins respectfully. The Royals were boosted on 19 mins when a long range shot from Geraldine Doherty from a free rebounded off the crossbar and Duffy was first to it as she fisted to the net for a Royal goal, much to the joy of the travelling Meath supporters, making it all square – Meath 1-02 to Donegal’s 0-05.

Although Meath were in possession, they seemed to lack the cutting edge they needed to get scores on the board in the remainder of the half. Donegal’s midfielder Karen Guthrie added her team’s sixth score on 23 mins in what can only be described as a rasping shot, with keeper Munnelly grateful to see it curl over the crossbar instead of under it. Ciara Dempsey was on hand to close down other Donegal attacks, but the Royal attack force seemed to run out of luck. Ward added Donegal’s seventh on 26 mins, to leave them two ahead at the break, Meath 1-02, Donegal 0-07. A nasty clash of heads on 28 mins, between club mates Maria Kealy and Rebecca Considine resulted in both players being blood subbed with Considine replaced completely. This seemed to shock the Meath team, who went in stunned at half time, two points down and hoping that Lady Luck would shine down on them in the second half.

With plenty to aim for in the second half, and the return of Kealy, Meath set about overcoming the defecit. However, Donegal had other ideas as they stunned Meath, scoring 1-04 in a five minute blitz. McMonagle scored 1-03 with Ward contributing 0-1. It was a massive lead Donegal were to maintain throughout the remainder of the half. Meath’s defence was crumbling but from the ruins shone Aedin Murray. The Navan O’Mahonys player was a beacon of hope for the Royals as she never gave up and continued to hassle the Donegal forwards. Set about the task of McMonagle, Murray did her best and robbed her of possession on several occasions. With the Meath players pushing forward in an attempt to help their forwards, this left plenty of space at the back which McMonagle exploited almost at will. Her goal on 33 mins was a perfect example of that, as she carved through the remaining Meath defence and found the bottom right hand corner of the net. A sucker punch to the Meath team, who took it and couldn’t seem to get back up.

Kellie Allen added Meath’s second goal on 39 mins, and the teams trading scores on 43 and 45 mins, Niamh Hegarty pointed for Donegal, while Duffy pointed from a free for the Royals. Guthrie added Donegal’s second goal on 47 mins with McMonagle adding a further point a moment later. This seemed to seal proceedings as uncharacteristically Meath seemed to give up. Token scores from Duffy, Mary Sheridan (free) and substitute Vivienne McCormack on 54, 57 and 58 mins took the harsh look off the final score. Donegal finished up the scoring deep in injury time with McMonagle having the final say. Final score from Bawnboy, was Meath 2-06 to Donegal’s 2-14.

In the other division 2 semi final, it finished all square between Armagh and Kildare (1-10 each) so they will replay next weekend, with the winners facing Donegal in the league final on May 8th. For the Royals however, it is back to the drawing board as manager Brendan Dardis contemplates how to overcome the challenge of Laois in the Leinster Senior Championship semi final on 4th July. Best for Meath on the day were; Irene Munnelly, Aedin Murray, Ciara Dempsey and Samantha Monaghan. Meath Ladies County Board would like to wish both Jenny Rispin and Rebecca Considine a speedy recovery.

Next weekend, the Meath minors will attempt to retain the Leinster Minor Shield when the face Dublin. They won this competition in 2009 with a comprehensive victory over Kildare, but the Jackies will surely be a sterner test for the Royals. However, with Kellie Allen, Bridgetta Lynch, Vivienne McCormack, Rebecca Considine, Siobhan Sheridan and Ailbhe McHugh all getting experience with the senior team, they will no doubt be eager to get some silverware into the cabinet for 2010. Venue and time for the Leinster Shield Final is tbc.

Meath Team & Scorers: Irene Munnelly, Clare Coffey, Philomena Sheridan (capt.), Maria Kealy, Ciara Dempsey, Aedin Murray, Rebecca Considine, Ashley Leavy, Samantha Monaghan, Geraldine Doherty, Shauna Bennett, Bridgetta Lynch, Elaine Duffy (1-04), Mary Sheridan(0-01), Kellie Allen(1-00). Subs: S.Byrne for Considine, O.Duff for Kealy, T.Ryan for Doherty, S. Sheridan for Leavy, S. Martin for Bennett, V. McCormack (0-01) for Lynch, M. O’Malley for Monaghan.

Donegal Team: R. McCafferty, D. Toner, M. Devenny, K. Wilson, C. Hegarty, M. Herron, D. Foley, A. McDonald, K. Guthrie, G. Houston, N. Hegarty, U. Leonard, B. Gallagher, Y. McMonagle, A. Ward.

Referee: Gerry Guinan (Galway)

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