Kildare 4 - 11 Down 1 - 13

Suzuki Ladies National Football League
Division 2b Venue: Grangenovlan
Date: Sunday 23/02/2003
Time: 2 PM
Kildare 4 – 11 Down 1 – 13
Score at Half Time: 2-7 to 0-4

Kildare Ladies made full use of the excellent Grangenovlan pitch for the second week in a row, recording an excellent seven point win over Down. The visitors were stronger than when the sides met in Newry last year with five of the Junior All Ireland side from 2000 back after a year out. The Downey sisters were the most noticeable difference in the visitors with Aoibheann at midfield and Michaela at full forward proving formidable opponents with their size, strength, skill and fitness.

Kildare were short regular goalkeeper Ellen Ryan through injury, Simone Gilabert and Antoinette Mooney, on skiing holidays, Niamh Redmond was also injured while Louise Conlon and Naomi Treacy were playing County Camogie.

Margaret McCormack was an admirable goalkeeping replacement. Leah Purcell started at wing forward, as did Deirdre Gately, moving out from her regular corner berth and the full forward role was filled by Brianne Leahy in her first outing of the year. Kildare, even with a strong wind behind them, started slowly, but warded off a few early Down attacks through solid defensive play by Edel Delaney and Therese Martin at full back. But Brianne was struggling to find sea legs in a confined space and eight minutes passed without a score. Then Grainne Heduan got under a dropping ball near the Down goal, with one hand, she patted gently into the path of Deirdre Gately. Deirdre had a glance and from the twenty metre line she planted her shot, in the far corner of the Down net with the goalkeeper rooted to the spot. Three Kildare points from Tracy Noone from play, Maria Moolick and a Tracy Noone free were each responded to in kind by Michaela Downey, Jolene Rea and Lisa Morgan. Then, inside four minutes from the twenty fifth minute came four Kildare points on the trot. First, Leah Purcell found Emma McCartney with a sweet pass and Emma “Slapped” it over. Tracy Noone won and pointed a free, Deirdre Gately did her own spade work and pointed and Yvonne Murphy sent Grainne Heduan in for Kildare’s seventh point. Lisa Morgan then pointed a twice taken down free but deep in first half injury time, Kate Leahy made a great defensive interception and played a long ball wide left to Leah Purcell. Leah spotted Yvonne Murphy cutting inside, the low thirty yard pass was perfect and Yvonne collected, steadied and fired, low and hard to the corner of the Down net. That this great scoring burst coincided with Brianne Leahy’s move to midfield was not coincidental and the half time lead 2-7 to 0-4 looked reasonable.

Down started the second half well. Lisa Morgan pointed inside a minute, but Brianne replied when expertly set up by Deirdre Gately. Lisa Morgan pointed another free and soon after got inside the Kildare defence. Margaret McCormack advanced and as the bodies clashed, Down were awarded a penalty. Jenna Connell smacked into the top right corner and now Down were flying. Emma O’Reilly and Lisa Morgan pointed a free each as Therese Martin drew a yellow card for a last ditch foul. Down were now within a goal with fourteen minutes left. Brianne asserted herself at midfield and a brilliant catch at midfield, run through the centre and pass to supporting wing back was poorly rewarded as Julie’s shot struck the bar of the left hand post and was cleared to safety. But Brianne was not giving up and another forward urn found Maria Moolick in space on the wing. Brianne provided the pass and Maria instantly kicked the point. Jackie Kelly and Sharon Conway now joined the attack and while Lisa Morgan pointed in the fiftieth minute, Kildare won a forty yards free as a jersey was blatantly stretched a minute later. Grainne Heduan’s free held up in the breeze, bounced off the crossbar and Sharon Conway was in like a light to finish to the Down net. Again, Lisa Morgan and Emma O’Reilly had points but with five minutes left, Deirdre Gately picked up a break twenty five yards from the Down goal and the Mourne County Keeper only saw her bullet like shot on it’s way back out from the back of the net. Julie Cunningham, now adopting the best form of defence, set up Emma McCartney for point number ten and was herself set up by Kate Leahy close the Kildare scoring with time almost up. Nine points behind but Down battled on and in stoppage time Michaela Downey and Kyla Trainor had the final points of an exciting game.

Down owed much to goalkeeper Elaine McCourt in the first half and missed her when an injury forced her off at the interval. Eliza Downey and Claire Drummey were solid full backs. Aine Keary and Orla O’Rourke starred in the outer defensive line. Aoibheann Downey and Marianna Devlin made things very difficult for Kildare at midfield. Centre forward Lisa Morgan and full forward Michaela Downey excelled in attach with Jolene Rea and Geraldine Campbell offering most but limited assistance.

For Kildare, Margaret McCormack was in top form with safe hands and excellent clearances. Therese Martin stuck to her difficult task at full back with Edel Delaney offering intelligent cover and nailing down her won corner. Kate Leahy and Julia Cunningham were outstanding at half back. Grainne Heduan worked hard at midfield as did Emma McCartney who improved when switched to half forward. Deirdre Gately linked the play with those around her and took her goals with aplomb. Maria Moolick, in finding her place is the team and was involved in many of the good attacking plays and drew the best out of the Down keeper who foiled the Leixlip youngster with a brilliant double save. Tracy Noone was a constant menace to the Down defence in the first half but injury forced a half time retirement. Leah Purcell weighed in with some sweet passes to better placed colleagues. Yvonne Murphy contributed and excellent goal and made way, late on, for Jackie Kelly to make her competitive County Senior Debut,. Nicola Cunningham was mostly starved of possession during a battling spell at full forward. Mairead Whelehan returned as another late sub after being absent since 1999 and Sharon Conway swept in for her goal in typical style soon after coming on.

Brianne Leahy, returning after injury, started slowly at full forward, found her form when switched to midfield after twenty minutes and her second half display was just her usual game. Covering every inch of the field, defending stoutly, fielding magnificently over much taller opponents and driving forward with total determination. Afterwards, the Down manager, Larry Duggan, was magnanimous on the Kildare captain’s second half display; “Sure we could only admire her”. Yes. The All-Star is back.

Scorers: Kildare Deirdre Gately 2-1, Tracy Noone 0-3 (0-2 frees), Yvonne Murphy 1-0, Sharon Conway 1-0, Maria Moolick 0-2, Emma McCartney 0-2, Grainne Heduan 0-1, Brianne Leahy 0-1, Julia Cunningham 0-1
Scorers: Down Lisa Morgan 0-7 (0-6 frees), Jenna Connell 1-0 (pen), Michaela Downey 0-2, Emma O’Reilly 0-2 (frees), Jolene Rea 0-1, Kyla Trainor 0-1

1 Margaret McCormack 2 Edel Delaney 3 Therese Martin 4 Ann Hughes 5 Aisling Lambe 6 Kate Leahy 7 Julia Cunningham (0-1) 8 Grainne Heduan (0-1) 9 Emma McCartney (0-2) 10 Deirdre Gately (12) (2-1) 11 Maria Moolick (0-2_ 12 Leah Purcell 13 Tracy Noone (0-3) 14 Brianne Leahy (0-1) 15 Yvonne Murphy (1-0)
Subs Played Dawn Power for A. Lambe(31 mins) Nicola Cunningham for t. Noone(31 mins) Jackie Kelly for Y. Murphy(48 mins) Sharon Conway (1-0) for N. Cunningham(48 mins) Mairead Whelehan for L. Purcell(58 mins)

Down 1 Elaine McCourt 2 Claire Drummy 3 Eliza Downey 4 Eilis McConville 5 Patricia McKirben 6 Aine Keary 7 Orla O’Rourke 8 Aoibheann Downey 9 Marianna Devlin 10 Jolene Rea (0-1) 11 Lisa Morgan (0-7) 12 Kyla Trainor (0-1) 13 Jenna Connell (1-0) 14 Michaela Downey (0-2) 15 Geraldine Campbell
Subs Used Aveen McEvoy for E. McConville(17 mins) Davina Craven for E. McCourt (inj)(31 mins) Emma O’Reilly for G. Campbell(31 mins) Karen McKeown for O. O’Rourke(31 mins)

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