2024 TG4 All-Ireland Finals tickets

Down win All-Ireland U-16 B Title

All Ireland B Championship Final report


Down 5-7 Roscommon 2-13

The Down U16 girls team were deservedly crowned All Ireland B Champions
on Sunday following a nail biting three point victory over a valiant
Roscommon team. Playing in sunny Navan in front of a large and vocal
Down support, the team sought to secure the first ever All Ireland
title by a Down underage team.

The Mourne girls got off to a bad start as Roscommon’s nippy forward
line got in amongst the Down defence. Corner forward Anna McCormack
got them off to a dream start with a point from the right wing after
just sixty seconds. This was swiftly followed by a point from Rachel
Ryan, after a strong drive forward by the Roscommon captain. The pressure
on the Down defence was eased somewhat by an excellent solo down the
right wing from Grainne Kelly, but the Annaclone player’s shot went
unluckily to the right of the post. Roscommon continued their onslaught
on the Down backs with three further scores from Ryan and full forward
Martina Freine. However, just as Down’s hopes looked to be heading
south, they sprung back to life with a goal from Saval player, Lorraine
Havern in the eighth minute. A drive down the right from Natashya
Lennon was followed by a rasping shot across goal but the power of
the kick meant the Roscommon ‘keeper could only palm it away, with
Havern pouncing to fire it home, sending the sizeable Down support
into raptures.


With the nerves settled, Down’s forwards kicked into action, taking advantage
of the good ball supplied from midfielders Polly Moane and Clara
Fitzpatrick. A point from Grainne Kelly was followed by goal for
Down as the centre forward latched onto a high ball in from Lennon
and finished well high to the ‘keeper’s right. Down ‘keeper Christine
McCarthy also played her part with a number of point blank saves
to keep Down in the hunt. Down’s third goal of the half again came
from a dangerous high ball in, this time from Bryansford’s Clara
Fitzpatrick. Down’s forwards rose highest to punch the ball over
Roscommon keeper, Bridgetta Menton’s head, with Natashya Lennon
coming round the back to sidefoot the ball home. The teams exchanged
further points in the closing minutes of the half, but the earlier
goals had done the damage for Down. The teams headed into the changing
rooms with the trophy still up for grabs, Down 3-04 Roscommon 0-11.

Roscommon came out the brighter in the second half, hitting the
post and pointing in the opening minutes, but in a mirror image
of the opening half, Down’s fire power again pushed them ahead.
Two punched goals from Natashya Lennon and Saval’s Catherine Digney
plus a point from Grainne Kelly gave the mourne girls some breathing
space as both teams fought for every ball. Roscommon refused to
give up though, scoring two goals in quick succession to bring them
right back into the game. As the nerves jangled both on the bench
and in the stands, Roscommon came at the Down defence in a sustained
onslaught. The Down backs though were immense, with Ciara McArdle
excellent at corner back and Sinead Fegan giving a captain’s performance
in terms of her blocking and tackling. Goalkeeper Christine McCarthy
repeated her first half performance with two top drawer saves. Substitutes
Grace Cole and Sheleen McDonald were also excellent, shoring up
the defence in the crucial closing minutes. Down eventually eased
the pressure with a point near the end to leave them three points
clear, and when the referee blew the whistle after seven excruciating
minutes of extra time, the delight of players and supporters alike
was plain to see.

Manager Noel Haughey was ecstatic at the final whistle saying,
“the girls did themselves, their families and their county
very proud today. They battled and harried for every ball, their
blocking was crucial and their belief in themselves never diminished
at any time – there is a lot more to come from these players over
the next few years”. Co-manager John McCarthy concurred, saying
“this is a great day for girls football in Down. Our supporters
filled the stand and never stopped shouting throughout the game.
We thoroughly deserved our victory today but we have to give credit
to an first-rate Roscommon team, who contributed to what was an
excellent game.”

In the end, it was Down’s firepower that was just too much for
the Roscommon defence. Natashya Lennon scooped the player of the
match award, presented by Ladies GAA President, Geraldine Giles,
reward for an outstanding personal tally of 3-3. Goalkeeper Christine
McCarthy was excellent throughout, keeping her team in it at crucial
times. The kicking power of Clara Fitzpatrick, getting the ball
forward quickly to Lennon and Havern also did damage, as did the
movement of the whole forward unit. In the final minutes though,
it was the teams’ never say die attitude, exemplified by captain
Sinead Fegan, that finally secured the cup, which the Down girls
hope will be the first of many for this young team.

Down team:

Christine McCarthy, Catherine Boden, Niamh McGowan, Ciara McArdle,
Roisin Torney, Paula Gribben, Sinead Fegan (capt), Clara Fitzpatrick,
Polly Moane, Sheena Kelly, Grainne Kelly, Catherine Digney, Orla
Fegan, Natashya Lennon, Lorraine Havern. Subs used: Grace Cole,
Sheleen McDonald


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