Lidl National League winner Duggan shines as Meath claim Leinster Minor A crown

Leinster Minor A Championship Final

Meath 3-13
Kildare 3-11

By Aisling Clery in Coralstown Kinnegad

A 1-10 haul from Emma Duggan paved the way for the Royals to secure their first Minor A title in 17 years in front of a large crowd on Monday afternoon in Coralstown Kinnegad. The game was hotly contested between Meath and Kildare with the Royals overturning a five point deficit at half time to secure an historic victory.

The sides were level on several occasions throughout a frenzied opening half, but it was the Lillies that hit the ground quicker registering 1-02 in the opening minutes. Gillian Wheeler hit the net for the first of her two goals before Orlaith Sullivan and Aoife Rattigan raised white flags. However, their lead didn’t last long as the Royals quickly levelled matters; a superb team move gave Susie O’Rourke the space for the final flourish to the net.

A brace of Emma Duggan points and the sides were level at 1-02 each. A further brace of Duggan points sandwiched a Sally Murphy point and after 12 minutes, the Royals held the slenderest of leads. While both sides saw efforts go wide, it was the steely Duggan whose reliable boot converted frees to push the Royals further ahead.

Sally Murphy and Orlaith Sullivan tagged on two points and the sides were once again level midway through the half. The game was end to end and a terrific team move from the Lillies ended with Sullivan grabbing her third point. On the resumption, Sullivan was unlucky to see her shot come back off the Meath upright but the ball fell kindly for Sarah Rose Merrick and the Maynooth footballer made no mistake with the finish.

Meath captain Orlagh Lally receives the cup from Leinster LGFA President, Dominic Leech

Emily Birch added a point and all of a sudden the Lillies held a five point lead, a lead they kept at the half time break thanks to goalkeeper Ciara Farrell. An enthralling opening half gave advantage to the Lillies at the half time whistle; 2-07 to 1-05.

The teams traded scores early in the second half, but it was Olivia Gore’s goal in the 35th minute that ignited the Royal attack. Sally Murphy pointed her third point of the game but the Royals upped the ante and fine running from Sarah Wall, Petra Reilly and the industrious Seona Lynch put pressure on the Lillies defence.

A brace of Emma Duggan frees put the minimum between the teams, when substitute Sorcha Gough’s initial shot rebounded it was Emma Duggan that was on hand to ensure the ball crossed the line. A fine run and finish gave Hazel McLoughlin a point and with 53 minutes on the clock there was just a single score between them. The Royals were to finish the stronger – a pair of Duggan frees gave the Royals a three point cushion and they did not look back with Susie O’Rourke, Olivia Gore and Captain Orlagh Lally all raising white flags.

The Lillies refused to admit defeat and Sarah Doyle made it a five point game as time ticked away. Gillian Wheeler grabbed her second goal deep into injury time, but it was just not enough as the full time whistle went. An engaging contest with the Royals coming out on top, winning by two.

The game bookends a super weekend for the Royals who sealed their first National Football League title in twenty-five years on Saturday by annexing the Division Three League title against Sligo. They have now completed a clean sweep of Leinster titles at u14, u16 and Minor – an historic season for the Royal ladies.

Scorers: Meath- Emma Duggan (1-10, 5f), Susie O’Rourke and Olivia Gore (1-01 each), Orlagh Lally (0-01)

Kildare: Gillian Wheeler (2-01), Sally Murphy (0-03), Orlaith Sullivan (0-03, 1f), Sarah Rose Merrick (1-00), Emily Birch, Hazel McLoughlin, Aoife Rattigan and Sarah Doyle (0-01 each).

Meath: EJ White, S O’Kane, MK Lynch, O Smith, K McCarthy, S Wall, A Farrell, O Lally (C), P Reilly, O Gore, E Duggan, S Lynch, M Byrne, S O’Rourke, M Peters.

Subs: A McCabe for McCarthy, S Gough for Lynch, A Sherlock for O’Rourke, L Devine for Reilly.

Kildare: C Farrell, L Murtagh, L Lenehan, E Birch, H McLoughlin, E Kehoe, E Carroll, SR Merrick, G Wheeler, M Dagg, S Murphy, H McCormack, M Aspell (C), O Sullivan, A Rattigan.

Subs: M Doherty for McCormack, S Doyle for Dagg, E Turley for Birch.

Ref: Stephen McNulty (Wicklow)


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