Kildare Through To Quarter Final


Kildare Through to Quarter Final


Kildare ladies through to All-Ireland Quarter final

Kildare ladies made another bold statement on Sunday as they shattered Meath’s hopes of progressing to another All Ireland quarter final with a determined display of powerful defending and quick attacking football culminating in a dramatic second half over run of the hosts at a surprisingly dry Rathoath pitch.

As the ball was thrown in, hopes for a Meath victory were high, they were the brighter team in the opening minutes. 2006 All Star Grainne Nulty kicked the opening shot of the game straight at the Kildare keeper and the ball was worked away safely by CJ Hogan and Ashling Holton for Kildare. It was Meath that got on the scoreboard first as Jackie Shiels put the ball between the posts in the second minute. Kildare replied straight away, sharply working the ball up the field only for Hazel Mulligan to be upended for  a penalty in the fourth minute, how the offending Meath player didn’t even get a talking to is anybody’s guess. Kildare’s 2004 All-Star nominee, Simone Gilabert stepped up to take the penalty and saw Irene Munnelly go full stretch to save.

Meath had started much the brighter and at this stage were wining a lot of primary possession. Six minutes in and Grainne Nulty took a sideline kick which was well fielded by St Ultan’s Katie O’Brien who in turn passed it to club mate Elaine Duffy who split the posts to double Meath’s advantage. Indeed the Meath supporters were enjoying every kick as Duffy won the resulting kick out and shot the ball over the bar to double her tally and make it Meath 0-3 Kildare 0-0 with ten minutes gone.

Kildare’s Elaine Dillon has covered many miles for the cause during this historic season and it was she who cut in beautifully to kick the lilywhites’ opening point on thirteen minutes. Again Meath rallied as Louise McKever’s miss kick appeared to slip through Kildare keeper Catriona Dolan’s fingers and looked to be goal bound. How she managed to dive low to her right and palm the ball around the post is anybody’s guess, and proved why indeed she is Kildare’s number one. The resulting 45 was expertly converted by Nulty, 0-4 to 0-1 in favour of Meath, thirteen minutes gone.

Kildare were still a long way short of they’re best at this point but were showing glimpses of their true form. Corner backs Ashling Holton and Aisling Lambe were wining their duels as was centre back Donna Berry with some staunch defensive moves and passing well out of the defence. Ace forward, Aisling Jennings beat her marker Vicky McGinn at will as did Noelle Earley deployed at right half forward, indeed it seemed only a mater of time before the tides turned.  But Meath weren’t going down easily and Simonstown defender Sinead Dooley cut out a Kildare attack on seventeen minutes kicking a long accurate ball into full forward Jackie Shiels who’s shot was poor and trickled wide. Meath did manage to extended their lead to four points when Fiona Mahon put the ball over on seventeen minutes. But Jennings hit back to double Kildare’s a minute later score with a mazy run through the heart of Meath’s defence causing untold panic. Meath finished their scoring for the half a minute later with a point from Katie O’Brien as Kildare went on to dominate the rest of the half. Good scoring chances went a begging from Noelle Earley and Simone Gilabert before wing back Maria Moolick made a trademark powerful attacking run to kick the score of the half just before the half time whistle send Meath into the break leading seven points to three having played with the wind.

It’s anybody’s guess what was said in the Kildare dressing room at half time but the team which arrived out for the second half had a calm, steely and determined look about them. Winning the throw in Kate Leahy who had been in the fullback berth up to this game now playing a defensive midfield role threaded a beautiful pass to Aisling Jennings who was dragged down and pointed from the resulting free in the 32nd minute. A minute later Brianne Leahy dragged a pointed effort wide. On 34 minutes a move which would grace any stage saw Aisling Holton drive out’ve defence with more than one Meath player attempting to haul her back, not to be stopped the Balyna woman gave a wonderful diagonal pass into full forward Simone Gilabert who smashed the ball to the net, signaling the lilywhite return.

This levelled matters for the first time in the match but Meath replied with two quick points from Louise McKeever and Elaine Duffy. Amazingly Meath were to kick their third and final score of the half on forty minutes with Fiona Mahon slotting over.

For the remainder of this game Meath’s goalkeeper was by far their best player on the pitch, keeping their dwindling hopes alive with a string of fine saves. Kildare were not to be denied and Elaine Dillon pointed for the Lilywhites on 42 minutes which seemed to send her team up another gear to completely over run Meath.

Brianne Leahy scored a fine point to level the match and further scores from Aisling Jennings (2) and Simone Gilabert signalled the end of the Royals resistance. Meath tried everything in the closing stages of this game but  Kildare once again were the superior team. Excellent performances from Aoife Herbert, Hazel Mulligan and Aodhin McBride typified the Kildare hunger for a place in the All-Ireland quarter final for the first time in their history and was evident for all to see.

The long whistle sounded to end Meath’s misery and despite their magnificent achievement Kildare didn’t celebrate as many may have expected. There is a determination in this camp to succeed and this was evident through gritty displays from players 1 to 20, this determination will be tested to the full by Laois in the quarter final. But if Kildare can produce a similar display for 60 minutes in a fortnight’s time, don’t be surprised if this Kildare side is once again grabbing the headlines.

Kildare Team; Catriona Dolan, Aisling Holton, Celia Hogan, Aisling Lambe, Aoife Herbert, Donna Berry, Maria Moolick, Brianne Leahy, Kate Leahy, Noelle Earley, Aishling Jennings, Elaine Dillon, Aoidhin McBride, Simone Gilabert, Hazel Mulligan.

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