Great end to the year for Dunsany

Meath ladies Feis Shield Final 2012

Date: 18th November

Venue: Dunsany

Ref: Ollie Cassidy

Final Score: Simonstown 4-11 to Dunsany 2-07

Weather watch: Chilly but fine for playing

“Our success has not been a continual series of victories. We have had a number of devastating setbacks; how these are handled is the making of a great team. Winning does not happen in straight lines!” Clive Woodward-World Cup winning rugby coach

Verdict: A wonderful performance by the Simonstown ladies who showed tremendous hunger, resolve and application throughout and who have deservedly finally garnered their first trophy at adult level in many’s the long year!

The Simonstown ladies team finally reached the promised land of silverware at adult level with a pulsating performance against Dunsany on Sunday last. It has taken a while but this 5 star performance was certainly worth the wait!!!

On three previous occasions this year, once in the league and twice in the championship the team had failed to overcome their junior rivals. However, they finally put those painful defeats to bed and emerged victorious in the Feis Shield Final.

T’was a chilly morning in Bective for the 12 o ‘clock kickoff. Having that said they were still ideal playing conditions. No one was complaining once it wasn’t raining!! Simonstown came into this game with five straight victories in this competition.It was pretty obvious to anyone in attendance, even from the warm up that the Navan side meant business. However, despite this it was actually Dunsany who started the stronger. Midfielder Treasa Sheridan fed a long well-directed pass to Sabina Gibney at corner forward. She caught and slotted over. Next they won a free when Ailbhe McHugh fouled Jenny Cusack as she got ready to kick for a point. Tracy King took the resultant free but from a close range failed to find the target.

Simonstown were not very long settling into their own rhythm. A hallmark of their play today was the sheer amount of their scores which involved sweeping moves the length of the field which finished with impressive scores. The first effort was one such. From goalkeeper Nicole Byrne’s kickout Aisling Sheridan did very well to gather possession. She in turn fed Captain Eve Wardick who laid off to her midfield parter Ailbhe McHugh. Ailbhe delivered in a long range ball which wing forward Emily McAteer gathered and fed off to Naoise de Graffe. Naoise has been banging in goals left, right and centre for this team all year and today was to be no exception. After collecting from Emily she struck with the outside of her boot put the ball past Sandra Coleman. Just what the doctor ordered!!

On four minutes Ailbhe got her own name on the scoreboard. Eve Wardick had just intercepted a defence clearing pass by Dunsany and gave the ball in to Ailbhe who on her trusty left boot fired over a great score! 1-1 to 1 point. On five minute one needed to look no further than atackle by the hard working Karen Foran on Roising Hagan as she came down the wing to see how “up” for it the girls were. Looking like she was about to clear Karen somehow managed to get a hand to the ball, knocking her opponent off her rhythm. There was no chance of a goal coming from the Dunsany player’s run up the wing yet the intensity applied to halt her progress left no one in any doubt as the Navan side’s determination to maximise the pressure on their rivals at every available opportunity. Anything Dunsany were going to get, they were going to have to work very hard for it!

However, while Simonstown were determined they nevertheless had to accept they were playing both the defending Shield champions as well as this year’s league and championship finalists. Dunsany came racing back down the field soon after. A high ball in by Tracy King aimed at Jenny Cusack was knocked down by Kate McKenna. On another occasion a Dunsany player might have been first to the breaking ball but the Simonstown defence were on red alert today. Full back Grainne Harrington gathered smartly. A feature of the north Navan girls’ play today which was especially pleasing to management and supporters alike was the calm manner in which the ball was worked out of defence time and again to players in better positions until it got to midfield and was delivered in to the forward line. Padraig Farrell, on commentary duty for the occasion, went so far as to call the football being played- “expansive”!!

One such move, and maybe even the score of the match, happened after six minutes when Kate McKenna got the better of danger forward Jenny Cusack from a Dunsany side-line ball. She looked up and saw Niamh Lister making a run and laid off. Niamh beat a defender and laid off to Ailbhe who had made space for herself. She in turn kicked to centre forward Eleanor Lane who had come deep. With her back to her player Ellie swivelled and chipped to Emily McAteer making a run towards goal. Emily kicked tofull forward Naoise who took two solos to get away from her player and fired over from distance. It was a wonderful team score and was indicative of the fluency with which the entire team was playing.

However, if the north Navan side were guilty of anything it was of kicking too much high ball in on top of full back Collette O Connell who must have the best pair of hands of any full back in the county! Naoise, it must be added, likewise has a super catch but O’Connell was a couple of inches taller and used this to good effect. Nevertheless, the Simonstown full forward still grabbed 3-3 for herself on the day so we can’t complain too much!!

Simonstown’s next score was yet another effort which almost went the length of the pitch. Karen Foran gathered loose possession and gave off to corner back Niamh Murray. She found Aisling Sheridan who in turn found sister Niamh.Niamh looked up and spotted Eve running alongside. They worked a neat one two and Niamh fired over. 1-3 to 1 point. Right half back Aisling Cassidy won herself a free after ten minutes and laid off to Naoise. Naoise passed back to Ailbhe who spotted Kellie Marie Harris lurking behind the Dunsany full back line. The ball was perfect but the Dunsany keeper was awake to the danger and did well to sprint out and gather before Kellie could get to it. However, Kellie wasn’t too put out…she was just warming up!!!

Eleanor is another who when in range of goal can be a devastating finisher. However, it sometimes takes forwards a couple of shot attempts before they are fully into their stride and Eleanor’s first effort went wide after she had made a fine run through the middle. Dawn Thyme’s chargers were starting to come more into proceedings at this stage. However, in the Simonstown defence, they were coming up against a unit of six, completely on top of their game. Aisling Cassidy, Niamh Lister and Aisling Sheridan made up the formidable half back line and their vigilance ensured that not much ball was actually getting further back to the last line of defence- Kate McKenna, Grainne Harringto and Niamh Murray.

On 15th minutes Niamh Lister was unlucky to see her name go into the refs book when she went in hard, but fairly it appeared, for a ball with Roisin Hagan. On 18thminutes Simonstown conceded another free when Eve Wardick halted Jenny Cusack as she bore down on goal. Noreen Sheridan scored the resultant free. 1-3 to 2 points. However, Dunsany really brought themselves back into proceedings on 20 minutes when what appeared like a point attempt from Kelly Gorman somehow dropped over Nicole’s head and into the net. Nicole took over goalkeeping duties from Aoife Lally this year. It was a tall order taking over from Aoife but Nicole has really made the position her own in the past few months and appears to be growing in confidence with every appearance for this team.

Dunsany followed this goal up with a lovely point from Noreen Sheridan who had been set up with a clever pass from former county player Jenny Cusack. At the other end Kelly Harris saw her shot go out wide. She then went on a tremendous run after being set up by Eleanor Lane but Sandra Coleman somehow managed to smother her shot. At the other end Niamh Lister did enough to disrupt Noreen Sheridan’s momentum as she went to pull the trigger in another score attempt. Instead her shot went wide.A minute later Grainne Harrington and Eve Wardick combined to dispossess the same player as she bore down on goal. Sheridan saw a further shot ricochet off the post on 25 minutes. Eve’s presence and experience helping out in defence certainly was helping to reduce the impact of Dunsany’s considerable possession at this stage but still Simonstown were living dangerously.

The siege was finally lifted a minute later with another full length pitch move which involved Eve, Niamh Lister, Emily McAteer and Naoise de Graffe. With options to her right and left Naoise fed Kelly to her right who beat a defender and fired over. It was just the tonic required to settle nerves! 1-4 to 1-3.

At the other end Nicole Byrne did well to gather a shot by Tracy King but she was then pushed into the net by Noreen Sheridan and Simonstown won a free out. With 30 minutes played Sabrina Gibney fired over after very nifty approach play by her team mates to set her up. All square. Emily McAteer, Aisling Cassidy and Kelly Harris combined before giving to Aisling Sheridan who was fouled. Kelly Marie slotted over on her left foot. It really was nip and tuck at this stage in proceedings. Simonstown were shading it in terms of possession but they needed no reminding that if any team could pull a few scores out of nowhere it was Dunsany. Kelly Marie then found Naoise out on the wing in the last action of the first half. Naoise turned and fired over from distance. A wonderful effort. 1-6 to 1-3.

If the first half was a pretty evenly divided affair the second half was all Simonstown. The Navan girls upped the ante by a good 20percent and for much of the remaining 30 minutes Dunsany struggled to find an answer. Eve won the throw in and fed Kelly who advanced at pace from the right wing. With a trail of defenders on her tail she unleashed a ferocious shot to the top corner of the Dunsany net. A three point gap was suddenly six. Niamh Sheridan then shot wide after shrugging off her marker. Naoise de Graffe saw a goal attempt also go wide soon after when a point option might have been best. Ailbhe McHugh and Tracy King were having a great tussle in the centre of the pitch and in fairness King was the main threat in terms of setting up players on the Dunsany team. However, on this occasion Ailbhe was putting in her best performance all year and was more than a match. Niamh Lister then hurt her hand in a tussle with the same player but emerged ok. Some of those present commented on the sheer intensity of proceedings. Both sides wanted this prize badly!!

Simonstown’s next score, like most of their scores on this occasion was a joy to behold! It began with an interception from the ever alert Aisling Cassidy in defence. Aisling soloed a good 30 metres before hitting Kellie with a fine kick. Looking up Kellie spotted Eleanor making a run through the middle and fed the centre forward. Eleanor, usually pretty accurate with the goal posts at her mercy slotted over to further extend her team’s lead. 2-7 to 1-04. The gap was opening.

Dunsany then introduced the very dangerous Megan Thyme. Megan had goaled in two previous outings against Simonstown when introduced but she was well marshalled today from the moment of introduction as Niamh Murray was moved straight on to her. Naoise de Graffe’s tally was really starting to add up now and she fired over another point 8 minutes into the second half after a rapid fire exchange of hand passes involving Eve, Niamh Sheridan, Eleanor Lane and Aisling Sheridan had set her up. 2-8 to 1-4.

Dunsany were starting to struggle to win their own kickoutsas Simonstown’s confidence grew. Play then halted for a few minutes when Noreen Sheridan went down injured after a collision with Niamh Lister. However, Dunsany did manage to get their names back on the scoreboard two minutes later when Sabrina Gabiny scored after centre back Clare Donoghue had gone on a great run up the field. When they met in the championship last Noreen Sheridan had been Dunsany’s danger forward. On this occasion this was afforded much less space but she did manage to follow up on her team mate’s score with one of her own two minutes later after Jenny Cusack had found her in space. 2-8 to 1-6

Rachael Flynn and Niamh Sheridan then combined to set up Eleanor Lane whose shot got blocked. However, the ball only came back out as far as Ailbhe McHugh. Spotting wing forward Emily McAteer free she played in a clever ball across and Emily fired over a lovely score. Eleanor got her second point from play after Ailbhe had managed to spoil a Dunsany quick kick out. 6 between the sides again. 2-9 to 1-6. The pressure being applied to Dunsany defenders seeking to emerge was constant and admirable. Naoise grabbed her second goal on 46 minutes. Aisling Cassidy was again the provider and Naoise’s long range shot crept over the head of Sandra Coleman and into the net to make it 3-9 to 1-6. Simonstown were really in the driving seat now but could they drive home their advantage?!!

A minute later with Dunsany on the attack Niamh Lister delivered a perfectly timed tackle to break up what could have been real danger. She drove the resultant ball in to Kelly Harris who fed Emily McAteer who unselfishly passed over to Naoise. With her being so close to goal there was only one thought in the full forwards head-GOAL! She made no mistake as she grabbed her hat trick. A great effort. 4-9 to 1-6. Rachael Gardiner then arrived into the action.

Niamh Murray hadn’t put a foot wrong in the contest up to this point but she was deemed with ten minutes left to have tripped Megan Thyme as she drove forward. Simonstown were now down to 14 but were hardly panicking. Niamh Sheridan came racing back into defence to help out and with her first action wona 50 50 against Dunsany taliswoman Noreen Sherian and cleared to sister Aisling who found Rachael Flynn with her long clearance. Rachael found the other Rachael who set up Kelly Harris and she effortlessly found the range. The Navan side were really enjoying themselves now!

Kate Mckenna cleared the next Dunsany goal attempt. Kate had been in real trouble with her hamstring all week but actually got an injection yesterday to ensure she could line out today. As the player with the best attendance record for the last four years for this panel of players it would have been rough justice if she had to sit it out!! At the other end Dunsany made it 4-10 to 1-7 when Jenny Cusack pointed. Rachael Gardiner got her first point since being introduced with just two minutes left when she fired over on her right foot. She got her second about a minute later after Grainne Harrington and Eleanor Lane combined to set her up. Fiona McCabe and Chloe Keoghan had also been introduced and were working hard to keep the positive momentum goin . Grainne Harrington was then unlucky to see a penalty given against her when she was deemed to have fouled Noreen Sheridan and her sister Ellen Sherian did well with the penalty to beat Nicole between the sticks with her shot to the top right hand corner. 4-11 to 2-07.

Seconds late ref Ollie Cassidy blew the final whistle and Simonstown were home and the long wait was over for this panel of players. Over the past four years some of these players have seen really dark days and have been on the receiving end of some pretty comprehensive hammerings. However, despite this they stuck at this task doggedly and persisted until things began to turn around.For some of these players it was a first ever medal at any age level with the club. For others it just has been a long time since last winning anything at adult level. For the younger players it was a first ever adult medal and hopefully it will be the first of many! As Captain Eve Wardick accepted the silverware the delight of all Simonstown players and supporters present was palpable!

The girls will now look forward to the 2013 campaign with justified confidence. With silverware in their pockets (well almost!!-medal presentation on January 11th) they have emerged from the 2012 year having beaten all their main opponents at least once, with the exception of Dee Rangers. Back in March the mix of younger and more experienced players was starting to take shape. By the time of the championship semi final the team’s confidence was steadily growing but they still came up just short. Today, the team had arrived and performed like a group finally sure of themselves, their abilities and their ability to perform as one cohesive, dynamic unit. If they can build upon this belief and confidence in themselves and in one another then Simonstown’s adult ladies team will justifiably approach every competition in the 2013 campaign with the beliefthey can compete for silverware.

Well done girls!

Simonstown: Nicole Byrne, Kate McKenna, Grainne Harrington, Niamh Murray, Aisling Cassidy, Niamh Lister, Aisling Sheridan, Eve Wardick (c ), Ailbhe McHugh, Emily McAteer, Eleanor Lane, Karen Foran, Niamh Sheridan, Naoise de Graffe, Kelly-Marie Harris

Subs: Rachael Flynn, Rachael Gardiner, Fiona McCabe, Chloe Keoghan, Sarah Conlon

Dunsany: Sandra Coleman, Grainne Byrne, Collette O’Connell, Sinead Markham, Shannen Thyme, Clare Donoghue, Roisin Hogan, Treasa Sheridan, Michelle Horan, Tracy King, Mary-Ellen Sheridan, Enya Flynn, Sabina Gibney, Noreen Sheridan, Jenny Cusack


24th November:

U19 girls fall at semi final hurdle

The Simonstown U19 ladies team played in the championship semi final last Sunday against Seneschalstown in Sench. Going into the game the loss of Eleanor Lane through injury was a big blow to the team’s hopes. Having reached the quarter finals last year where they lost to eventual winners na Fianna, Simonstown were anxious to make their first final at this grade in a long time. Rachael Flynn and Rachael Gardiner both scored good goals in the first half. However, the home side gradually found their rhythm and reeled off a succession of scores which saw them up by three points at half time. In the second half Kelly Marie Harris scored a point and full forward Naoise de Graffe scored two but it wasn’t enough to derail their opponents who finished very strongly to win by 8 points, on a score line of 2.11 to 2.03. Fortunately, for the Navan girls every one of the team is underage again next year so they’ll certainly fancy their chances of going one better in 12 months.

Sign up to our email newsletter


Partners & Supporters





See all LGFAClubs