2024 TG4 All-Ireland Finals tickets






The Down U16 girls team stormed through to the All
Ireland B Final with an immense display of skill and determination
to overcome a physical Westmeath team in Ardee. 

Playing n front of a vocal Down support, it was Down who made
the better start, with half forward Sheena Kelly, showing well
in the opening minutes. They got off the mark after four minutes
with a free from Grainne Kelly following a foul on Saval player
Lorrraine Havern. Westmeath started to come into the game with
a good foray forward by Maud Foley. The forward worked herself
into a good position in front of goal and fired the ball low only
to be blocked by Sinead Fegan. The first goal for Down came on
the seven-minute mark following some excellent link up play between
Cara Laverty, Grainne Kelly and scorer Orla Fegan. Running off
Kelly’s shoulder, the Shamrocks player picked up the pass before
striking the ball low to the ‘keeper’s left. Further scores from
Kelly and Natashya Lennon who hit a superb point after beating
her marker with pace. Westmeath had their chances to get on the
score sheet but a number of easy misses and the tenacious tackling
of the Down half backs saw their rewards limited to one point
mid way through the half. They made a great chance for themselves
as half-back Joanna Maher pushed up the wing and crossed a dangerous
ball into the box. The resulting strike from three yards out appeared
goal bound only for Niamh McGowan to pull off a full length diving
block. The determination shown by the Saval player seemed to spread
through the team as they sought to press home their advantage
before half time. Grainne Kelly duly obliged on the twenty-minute
mark with a goal following good movement by Orla Fegan. The roles
were reversed two minutes later as a lovely inside pass from Kelly
provide Fegan with an easy chance to take her point. The teams
exchanged a number of points up to the half way mark but a last
minute scrambled goal by Lorraine Havern reinforced their advantage
going into half time. The Mourne girls headed for the changing
rooms very much buoyed by their efforts and with one foot in the
final. Half time score Down 3-7 Westmeath 0-04.

If the first half had been pleasing for managers John McCarthy
and Noel Haughey, the second half was a pure delight. Down took
up where they left off with points from Grainne Kelly, Lorraine
Havern and Orla Fegan (0-3). However the foundation for every
attack was the performance of each of the six backs, who dominated
their markers and gave great supply of ball up the wings. Goal
keeper Christine McCarthy was excellent, making some key saves
to deny Westmeath a chance to get back into the game. Midfielder
Polly Moane also gave a hi tempo performance, cleaning up everything
around the centre of the field. Corner forwards Cara Laverty (2-0)
and Lorraine Havern (1-3) always provided an option out wide with
the pace of centre forwards Natashya Lennon (0-1) and Grainne
Kelly too much for the brave Westmeath defence, who to their credit
never stopped working. Kelly dominated the Westmeath backs for
the whole of the second half, scoring and passing at will, picking
up an eventual personal tally of 1-11. While Westmeath hit a number
of scores towards the end of the game, the domination of Down
across every sector was too much to overcome, with their delight
at the end of the game all too obvious.

So a first ever All Ireland final for the U16s beckons and is
duly deserved following a text book display of passing, movement
and determination. Personal performances from Grainne Kelly and
‘keeper Christine McCarthy saw them compete for the player of
the match award but it was the performance of the team unit that
was most encouraging. Managers John McCarthy and Noel Haughey
were delighted at the end of the game, commenting “our work
rate today was outstanding. We needed a real team performance
and that’s what the girls produced – our passing, shooting and
blocking were top drawer. But the biggest thing was our determination.
We fought for every ball and showed real passion on the field.
Every single player deserves credit for our performance today”.

The All Ireland final will be held on September 16th – venue
to be announced.

Down team

Christine McCarthy, Catherine Boden, Niamh McGowan, Ciara McArdle,
Roisin Torney, Paula Gribben (0-1), Sinead Fegan (capt), Polly
Moane, Clara Fitzpatrick, Sheena Kelly, Grainne Kelly (1-11),
Orla Fegan (0-3), Lorraine Havern (1-3), Natashya Lennon (0-1),
Cara Laverty (2-0). Subs: Grace Cole, Eimear McKay, Catherine
Digney, Niamh Millar, Catherine Haughian, Bronagh Kerr, Siobhan
Lively, Ann Marie Monaghan, Ann McCall, Anna McDonald, Laura Morgan,
Sileen McDonald, Mary O’Hare, Lisa Devlin, Niamh O’Riordan, Courtney



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