Laois Overcome Royals for 1st Win

Three first half goals sealed a Valentine’s Day win for the O’Moore County in the third round of today’s Lidl National Football League in a cold but bright Mountmellick. Meath were well in contention throughout and battled hard but as the old adage goes, goals win games and Laois picked up their first points of the campaign at the Royals expense this afternoon.

Shelly Melia in possession for Meath against Laois

It was the Royals who raced into an early two point lead – Stacey Grimes opening up Meath’s account on two minutes after a fluid team move which began in Meath’s half back line after Vikki Wall recovered possession. A minute later, Meath were two in front, with Kate Byrne splitting the posts. Mo Nerney pulled one back for the home side on four mins. With Shauna Ennis impressing in defence, Meath were unlucky not to go further ahead when Aoibheann Leahy’s efforts fell short into Ciamh Dollard’s arms. Nerney levelled matters for Laois from a free on 7 mins after Laura Marie Maher was fouled. Laois first goal came on 12 mins with Caoimhe Simms running straight through the heart of the Royal defence and hitting the back of Louise Dunne’s net. Meath recovered well and reacted well to a loose kickout, Stacey Grimes pointing on 13 mins. Laois upped the pressure in the second quarter and despite a super save from Louise Dunne, the home side grabbed goal number two through the boot of Noirín Kirwan on 18 mins. Patient build up from the Royals led to Meath’s fourth score of the half, a well-crafted point from Julie Donnellan on 20 mins. Kirwan grabbed Laois’ third point of the half on 22 mins. A fine run from Niamh Gallogly saw her effort fall into Dollard’s hands a minute later before Laura Nerney grabbed Laois’ third goal on 24 mins. Meath’s response was instant, a second point from Kate Byrne after Paula Dunne kicked in a high ball to the Duleek-Bellewstown player. The home side could have been further in front at half time, a double save off the line, first Dunne’s save was followed by Laois Captain Laura Marie Maher’s shot, but this too was saved off the line by Orla Byrne. At half time, all was still very much to play for, with the home side seven points ahead.


Half Time: Meath 0-05, Laois 3-03.


The second half opened brightly for the Royals, with Blackhall Gaels’ Paula Dunne splitting the posts on 32 mins. Dunne was again to the fore a minute later, saving Simms shot before the Laois side grabbed their opening score of the half on 34 mins. Consistent Laois pressure in the early stages of the half yielded little result for the home side as the Royal defence stood strong. Kirwan converted a free on 40 mins to edge Laois ahead a little more but defensive pressure forced multiple wides, Hannah Heskin, Stacey Grimes and Síofra Cleary all on top. This spurred on the Royals and they were unlucky to see several shots go wide. Vikki Wall converted a free on 49 mins and while Alex Goodman was unlucky to see her shot go just left of the post, Laois’ Fiona Dooley added to her side’s tally with a point on 54 mins. A foul on Wall a minute later saw her take a free to Grimes who found Goodman in space and she split the posts for her first point of the 2016 campaign. Kirwan and Maher combined on 58 mins to split the posts for Laois’ final point of the contest but it was the Royals who had the final say, Vikki Wall converting after receiving the ball from a Jenny Rispin free deep into injury time. It ended in Mountmellick with the home side sealing their first three points of the campaign.

Full Time: Meath 0-09, Laois 3-08.


Meath and Laois last met in the 2015 Leinster Senior Championship and Laois were convincing winners on that day in Walterstown, winning on a 5-10 to 0-08 scoreline, or 15 scores to 8. Today, Laois were victors, but the battle was far closer – 11 scores to 9. If Meath had converted their chances into goals there may have been a different end result. Meath are a hungry, determined and focused side and with Meath manager Eoin Hennessy still finding his feet and settling his players into a routine, there is every reason for optimism in the Royal camp. They have two weeks now to prepare for the visit of Donegal to the Royal County and undoubtedly they will be ready for the challenge.



Meath Team & Scorers: Louise Dunne, Aideen Guy, Orla Byrne, Hannah Heskin, Shauna Ennis, Bláthnaid Keogh, Síofra Cleary, Vikki Wall (0-02), Paula Dunne (0-01), Ailbhe McHugh, Kate Byrne (C, 0-02), Niamh Gallogly, Stacey Grimes (0-02), Aoibheann Leahy, Julie Donnellan (0-01).

Subs: Shelly Melia for Leahy (21 mins), Máire O’Shaughnessy for Orla Byrne (41 mins), Alex Goodman for Kate Byrne (46 mins), Leah Kelly for Keogh (48 mins), Kate Lawless for Ennis (48 mins), Jenny Rispin for McHugh (52 mins), Caitríona Keogan for Guy (56 mins), Aisling Sheridan for Donnellan (58 mins).


Laois: Ciamh Dollard, Martha Kirwan, Jane Moore, Amy Loughman, Laura Nerney, Joyce Dunne, Anna Moore, Maggie Murphy, Fiona Dooley, Clare Conlon, Noirin Kirwan, Anna Healy, Mo Nerney, Laura-Marie Maher (C), Caoimhe Simms.


Referee: James Flood (Wexford)

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