Match Reports from Dublin and Meath Leinster Minor Final.

Dublin Weather the Storm to Snatch Dramatic Win.

Dublin 1-9 Meath 2-5.

Gallery of photos from the game can be viewed here

Dublin weathered both a Royal storm and that which the elements threw at them to regain the Leinster Minor Championship title at a wet and windswept Sarsfields venue on Saturday. The Meath management team will be left scratching their in wonder at how this one got away. Having played with the advantage of a very strong wind in the first half they went in at half time leading by just a single goal, 2-2 to 1-2. The Dublin defence also had to brave a very heavy shower which fell late in the first half. There was a sense that they could have been overwhelmed as Maire O’Shaughnessy aided by Sinead Coyle, Vivienne McCormack and Joanne Byrne drove Meath forward. Bridgetta Lynch looked threatening.
Wave after wave of attacks were heading for the Dublin goal but Ballyboden St. Endas, Alice Gillen, stood tall and thwarted most.
Meath’s shooting was also letting them down and the wides mounted up.

With just twenty-five seconds on the clock Gillen used her legs to deny Lynch a certain goal. After twelve minutes she parried a dipping shot from Joanne Byrne and safely collected the ball. Dublin looked dangerous on the counter attack out of defence and after seven minutes one of these generated a free which was converted by Siobhan Woods. In their efforts to work the ball out of defence passes went astray on occasion because of the strength of the wind. Nevertheless they stuck at it and it paid dividends eventually. Meath failed to punish them when they regained possession. Gillen then parried another effort from McCormack before Lynch finally drove the ball to the back of the Dublin net for Meath’s first score after ten minutes. This goal came about as a result of the linesperson giving a line ball to Meath when it was Joanne Byrne and not Grainne Barrett who touched it last. The Dublin defence had regained possession, however, before a poorly-placed pass gave the ball away and this time Meath exacted full retribution. Almost immediately afterwards Lynch hit the post with the follow-up shot from Byrne being saved by Gillen.

Dublin then lost fullback Deirdre Murphy with an injury and she was replaced by Na Fianna’s Leah McCaffrey. Captain, Ellen Keatley was switched to fullback in Murphy’s place. Woods then missed with a free for Dublin while Byrne missed two for Meath. In between Gillen had come to Dublin’s rescue again. Twenty-four minutes into the game and the deficit was reduced as Oonagh Whyte registered a well-worked point for Dublin. It was now obvious that Dublin’s confidence was on the rise and four minutes later against the odds Dublin took the lead when Siobhan Killeen finished off a flowing move with a well struck goal.
Killeen had a very impressive game for Dublin even though she was not named on the original starting fifteen. She will not have done her chances any harm ahead of the All-Iteland semi-final. Aoife Gallagher was substituted shortly after with a finger injury. Meath regrouped and finished the half strongly with a bullet of a goal from McCormack who scored from a very narrow angle, with the power of the shot giving Gillen no chance. A point from Byrne left Meath leading by three at half time. The wides count in the first half was eight to two in favour of Meath. Because of stoppages in play for injuries to Murphy and Gallagher six minutes of injury time was added on by the referee.

The anticipated second half onslaught towards the Meath goal with the aid of the wind took some time to materialise. Instead it was the Royals who went on the attack and McCormack drilled a shot against the bar after one minute with the follow-up effort going wide. This was a wake-up call for Dublin and they responded to the challenge. Siobhan Killeen was posing a major threat to the Meath defence and reduced the deficit to two points with a well-taken point after some lovely combination play that involved Aisling King after four minutes. King played a vital role in Dublin’s second half comeback. She was a regular target for Gillen’s excellent kick-outs and fielded many quite excellently. She also fielded many from Meath’s goalkeeper, Samantha Monaghan during the second half. She was certainly in the running for Player of Match.

Dublin’s forwards also inherited the bug that afflicted Meath in the first half and the wides began to mount. It took Dublin another six minutes before the gap was down to one point with Woods bisecting the posts for a great score. Meath were still looking far more dangerous and Gillen was forced to save with her feet again, this time from Joanna Byrne. Kate Byrne then rattled the woodwork for Meath and the ball was scrambled to safety. Claire King was featuring prominently in Dublin’s defensive duties as Meath sought a killer goal. Olivia Smartt was spoken to the referee as a result of a foul on a Meath player.
Another six minutes passed before the sides were level when Whyte cooly floated over a beauty. Lucy Collins was lucky to escape sanction for an attempted blockdown on McCormack before Lynch hit the post again. A Byrne free after twenty-one minutes opened up the lead again to two points. Gillen again fielded another dangerous high ball under the crossbar as Meath sought to stretch the lead. Dublin turned the screw during the next five minutes and really pressurised the Meath defence. Whyte kicked another fine point and this was followed by three well-converted points by Woods from frees all from the difficult side of the posts for a right-footed kicker. This was probably what won her the Player of the Match award. Suddenly the lead was out to three points and Dublin tails were up.

No Meath side goes down without a fight and they took the game to Dublin for the final five minutes. Two pointed frees by Byrne had the deficit down to the bare minimum but Dublin managed to lift the siege and the referee’s whistle after four minutes of injury time came as a great relief to the Dublin team, its mentors and supporters. Luckily for Dublin on the final free awarded to Meath the referee had blown promptly for it not having spotted substitute Laura Bagnall bearing down on goal. It was the one time when the Meath bench would have preferred to have seen an advantage being allowed for their side. This Meath team would never dominate a game again to this extent and lose.
They were too intent on trying for goals in the second half when points were there for the taking. From the statistics point of view they were ahead of Dublin in everything but the scoreboard. The wides tally was fourteen to twelve in Meath’s favour, one nil on forty-fives, four nil on shots against the post, two nil on shots against the crossbar and six nil on shots that had to be saved by the goalkeeper. Monaghan had very little to do in the Meath goal and she tidied up whenever the need arose. She could not get sufficient purchase on her kickouts in the second half and this enabled Dublin to keep the pressure on Meath. Gillen also had to dive at Meath forwards feet on a few occasions. So to the victor the spoils. Dublin will savour this win. Meath snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

My Player of the Match – Alice Gillen. Her top quality goalkeeping kept Dublin in the game throughout.

Dublin – Alice Gillen (Ballyboden St. Endas), Ellen Keatley, capt., (Scoil Ui Chonaill), Deirdre Murphy (St.Brigids), Claire King (Ballyboden St. Endas), Grainne Barrett (Clann Mhuire), Jenny Ward (Ballyboden St. Endas), Lucy Collins,(Na Fianna), Olivia Smartt (St.
Brigids), Emma McDonough (Foxrock/Cabinteely), Siobhán Killeen (Raheny), (1-1), Siobhan Woods (Raheny),(0-5, 4frees), Aisling King Ballyboden St. Endas), Oonagh White (Clann Mhuire), (0-3), Aoife Gallagher Kilmacud Crokes), Maria Kenny Ballinteer St. Johns).
Subs – Leah Caffrey (Na Fianna) for Deirdre Murphy, Lauren Ebbs (Naomh
Barróg) for Aoife Gallagher, Aoife Nolan (Na Fianna) for Grainne Barrett and Ciara Ruddy (Ballyboden St. Endas) for Maria Kenny.

Meath – S. Monaghan, K. Blaney, C. Murray, O. Duff, E. Troy, K. Allen, capt., M. O’Brien, M. O’Shaughnessy, L. McCann, S. Coyle, V.
McCormack, (1-0), J. Byrne, (0-5, 4 frees), K. Callaghan, B. Lynch, (1-0), K. Byrne.
Subs – L. Dempsey for K. Callaghan, L. Murray for C. Murray, L.
Bagnall for L. McCann, A. McCann for S. Coyle

Leinster Under 18 Championship Final

Meath v Dublin

Sarsfields GFC, Co. Kildare

Saturday 14th May @ 3.15pm

Half Time: Meath 2-02 v Dublin 1-02

Full Time: Meath 2-05 v Dublin 1-09

            Despite retaining the majority of possession, Meath failed to keep the Dubs at bay and allowed them come back from a three point deficit at half time to secure the Leinster Minor Championship by a solitary point. Meath should have been well ahead at half time as many missed chances, coupled with a terrific Dublin goalkeeper and the crossbar restricted Royal scoring. Meath were ahead by three points at half time, but playing against the wind in the second half and only scoring three points allowed Dublin back in and control of the game. Last gasp points were not enough to catch the Jackeens and Meath will have to be content with being runners up in the Leinster minor championship this year.

            The Royals began brightly, with Bridgetta Lynch proving a threat on several occasions but just missed the final piece of luck required to split the posts. Dublin opened the afternoon’s scoring through a 21 yard free pointed from the boot of Siobhan Woods. Joanne Byrne brought the teams back to parity on nine mins with a well taken free. On the resumption a sideline ball resulted. Vivienne McCormack found the inspirational Lynch who cleverly offloaded to Joanne Byrne, and the Gaeil Colmcilles player had little difficulty in finding the back of the net. Strong defending from Emma Troy, Kellie Allen and Orlaith Duff kept Meath ahead.

            Then the rain came. With hurricane winds and sheets of rain coming across the pitch, both teams continued to plug away as conditions became next to impossible. Dublin took a point back on 20 mins through Oonagh Whyte and somehow through a goal mouth scramble Dublin found the back of the net on 23 mins to lead by the slimmest of margins. It wasn’t a lead that was to last as Vivienne McCormack had three attempts to hit the back of the net. Luckily for the Royals, the second of the three found its target and Meath supporters who had turned out in great numbers and were now soaking wet breathed a sigh of relief! Meath could have gone further ahead but for the quick thinking of Dublin’s goalkeeper, Alice Gillen. There was just time for Byrne to add in a further point before half time to ensure that Meath led by three points at half time – Meath 2-02 to Dublin 1-02. In fact Byrne should have had another point from a free which was pointed over the bar but the referee judged it to be a square ball and disallowed the score. How costly that point was to become!

            With the rain easing slightly, the second half began with both teams set to fight for Leinster honours. Dublin were first again on the scoreboard with Siobhan Killeen pointing to bring the gap down to two. The weather was still having a considerable impact on the game as both teams put relatively simple shots wide. Meath introduced Laura Dempsey and Laura Murray to inject some pace into tiring legs, especially against the wind. Woods brought the deficit down to the minimum on 41 mins with a fine taken point. Meath were treading a thin line, as Dublin put three balls wide – but the pressure Meath defenders were putting on Dublin was working a treat! Orlaith Duff, Emma Troy, Karen Blaney and Captain Kellie Allen were all working very hard to keep Dublin away from the Meath goals. Dublin however with confidence hit back and levelled matters on 46 mins which seemed to waken the Royals. Try as they might however, Royal forwards just could not score. Byrne put a free wide on 48 mins, while Lynch hit the post and the keeper pushed it round the post and out for a 45’. McCormack stepped up to take the 45’ and put it wide by millimetres. Such was the gap between the teams. Substitute Laura Bagnall was fouled on 50 mins, and the resulting free was pointed by Byrne to put Royal noses in front. This was cancelled out on 54 mins and it was all square again as both sets of supporters eagerly cheered on their teams. It was the Dublin supporters who seemed to be heard louder for a time as Dublin went on to score three unanswered scores – with Woods involved in all three. This put Meath three points behind with time rapidly running out.

With Allen, McCormack and Maire O’Shaughnessy holding up Dublin in midfield, the Royals were able to grab two last minute points from the talented boot of Joanne Byrne who amassed a respectful 1-05 haul. However it was all too late for the Royals as referee Shaun Duane blew the full time whistle and confirmed Dublin as Leinster minor champions for 2011. Full time score – Dublin 1-09 to Meath’s 2-05.

            Overall Meath should have been out of sight by half time. They squandered too many chances but were the better team on the field. What makes this Meath minor team a special unit of players, apart from their talent, is their never say die attitude which is one that has served them so well in the past (the 2009 Under 16 All Ireland Final where this group of players clung on to a point and two point lead for example!). This team will no doubt go on to some further silverware in the future, but in the meantime they will return to their clubs better players and with a runner up Leinster medal which is still something to be treasured. One has to question the wisdom of the knockout method in this competition as this team has only had three games together since the start of the year – including today’s Leinster final – Laois in the opening round,  Wexford in the semi-final and Dublin in the final. Surely another method is possible to give these talented players more games to represent their county and improve themselves further.

            Manager Eamon Murray and his management team were disappointed with today’s game, however they were incredibly proud to be involved with these talented players – who will go on to receive many more medals in the future. Best for Meath today was Orlaith Duff, Emma Troy, Kellie Allen, Vivienne McCormack, Joanne Byrne and Bridgetta Lynch. However, the team operates very much as a team – and all the players involved are to be congratulated on their success.

            Meath Team & Scorers: Samantha Monaghan, Karen Blaney, Cliona Murray, Orlaith Duff, Emma Troy, Kellie Allen, Megan O’Brien, Maire O’Shaughnessy, Lauren McCann, Joanne Byrne (1-05), Vivienne McCormack (1-00), Sinead Coyle, Kate Byrne, Bridgetta Lynch, Katie Callaghan.

Subs: Laura Dempsey for Katie Callaghan (39 mins), Laura Murray for Cliona Murray (39 mins), Laura Bagnall for Lauren McCann (50 mins), Adrienne McCann for Sinead Coyle (58 mins), Jennifer Newman, Aisling Sheridan, Stephanie Caffrey, Jacinta Maher.

 Referee: Shauna Duane (Kildare)

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