Limerick Ladies Delight as they Retain U14C Title

In a classic final, that demonstrated all that is good about Ladies Gaelic Football, Limerick won only their second ever All Ireland title, at underage level, when they retained their U 14C All Ireland title in Ballymahon on Saturday, 4 July. The large Limerick support witnessed a competitive game between two sides that were evenly matched, fully committed, and well prepared. The game was played in near perfect conditions.

4 July 2015;  Limerick captain, Laura Nash, right, celebrates with player of the match Iris Kennelly. All Ireland Ladies Football U14 'C' Championship, Derry v Limerick. Ballymahon, Co. Longford. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
4 July 2015; Limerick captain, Laura Nash, right, celebrates with player of the match Iris Kennelly. All Ireland Ladies Football U14 ‘C’ Championship, Derry v Limerick. Ballymahon, Co. Longford. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Limerick lost the toss and played against a slight breeze in the first half, but got off to a bright start by winning the throw in, to mount an attack that led to the Derry defence conceding a free which was duly put over by player of the match Iris Kennelly. But it wasn’t long before the Derry girls showed their intent by levelling matters. Derry were now using their physical strength to dominate exchanges which gave them some scoring chances and they scored a fine goal to lead by 3 points at the end of the first quarter. Two further attacks by Derry saw them score 2 points and Limerick were now scrapping for everything and putting Derry under pressure anytime they had  possession. Their defence held strong and the forward line was posing a threat which caused Derry to concede 2 frees in quick succession which Noelle Curtin accurately despatched. During this period both sides hit the woodwork. With Iris Kennelly becoming a real thorn in Derry’s side, Limerick mounted several attacks to ensure that the physically stronger Derry girls knew that the All Ireland title would not be given up easily by Limerick. In the closing minutes of the first half both sides exchanged points to leave it 1-4 to 0-4 at the half time whistle. Limerick were still very much in the game as they had a slight wind advantage in the second half.


This Limerick team had come from behind in the Munster Final and All Ireland Semi Final to reach the All Ireland final, so a big second half performance was expected. They were not to disappoint as the half time talk seemed to galvanise them. Again winning the throw in, Limerick mounted an attack and scored a point through Iris Kennelly. This was quickly followed up by a long range shot which dipped under the cross bar to put Limerick ahead by a point. In typically determined fashion Limerick won the kick out, Aoife Hickey fed the ball to Emer O’Keeffe who despatched the ball to the Derry net. However, Derry were not in the mind to throw in the towel and were mounting frequent attacks. It was as a result of blocking a goal bound shot that Limerick suffered a setback when Sophie Hennessy was sin binned for 10 minutes and a penalty was awarded which Goalkeeper Ailbhe Larkin nearly saved. This left Derry ahead by 3 points. Shortly afterwards Derry had a sin bin to leave both sides with 14 players for the sin bin period. However, the Limerick half back line of Robyn Leahy , Kerrie Guinea and Ella Whelan were gaining dominance and gave a platform to their forwards. Limerick scored points in quick succession through Iris Kennelly and Noelle Curtin. Noelle Curtin converted another free and Iris Kennelly scored a goal from another long range effort. But this game ebbed and flowed in the final quarter leaving the large Limerick support on the edge of their seats as Derry scored a goal at the other end. With girls now tiring Limerick made shrewd substitutions to ensure that they maintained the momentum in the final quarter. Limerick were back in the lead when Blaithin Leahy scored a point and quickly followed it up with a goal. It was only at this point, with 2 minutes of injury time left and a six point lead that the large and vociferous Limerick support could relax in the knowledge that the All Ireland title had been retained.


While this was a great team performance, a special word of congratulations to Iris Kennelly who gave an exhibition of skill using both left and right feet, hard work and athleticism to deservedly earn the player of the match award. Time and time again, she popped up in the right place to take responsibility for driving on Limerick. She was very ably supported by Chloe Cleary, the hard working midfield of Laura Nash and Aoife Rowsome. The forward line was well led by Blaithin Leahy and Emer O’Keeffe.


In the final analysis, it was the battling performance of the Limerick girls, and not allowing a fine Derry team any time on the ball, that allowed Limerick to get out on top in this cracking encounter.  Other teams might have wilted but these girls do not accept defeat easily. It was that resolve and their hard work since December that ensured that they were capable of ensuring that Limerick retained their All Ireland title. The joyous scenes and pure emotion evident at the final whistle demonstrated how much this meant to the Limerick girls and their supporters.  Captain Laura Nash accepted the cup on behalf of the entire panel of 29 players and congratulated Derry on their performance. With several players underage again next year, the signs are positive for Limerick ladies gaelic football.


Limerick Panel: Aoife Hickey (Adare), Sive O’Halloran (Adare), Clare Carmody (Athea), Michelle Curtin (Athea), Noelle Curtin (Athea), Ava Mullane (Drom/Broadford), Chloe Cleary (Galtee Gaels), Eileen Scanlan (Gerald Griffins), Maura Shine (Gerald Griffins), Anna Shine (Gerald Griffins), Blaithin Leahy (Knockainey), Ciara Hyes (Knockainey), Aoife Corbert (Monagea), Ella Whelan (Monagea), Rachel O’Dell (Monaleen), Kerrie Guinea (Mungret/St Paul’s), Kerrie Guinea (Mungret/St Paul’s), Emer O’Keeffe (Mungret/St Pauls), Ailbhe Larkin (Mungret/St Paul’s), Lauren Beirne (Murroe Boher), Sophie Hennessy (Old Mill), Iris Kennelly (Old Mill), Kathleen Bradshaw (Oola), Caroline Brennan (Shamrock Gaels), Lucy Costello (Shamrock Gaels), Sinead McElligott (St Ailbes), Robyn Leahy (St Ailbes), Laura Nash Captain (St Ailbes), Aoife Rowsome (St Ailbes), Shannon McCarthy (St Brigids) and Jemma Duhig (St Patrick’s).


Derry Panel: Rachel McCloskey (Claudy), Orlaith Marie McCloskey (Dungiven), Clare McCartney (Ballymaguigan), Hannah Mullan (Dungiven), Deabhona McElhinney (Dungiven), Leah McGonagle (Steelstown), Nicole Nugent (Ballymaguigan), Lauren Crozier (Ballymaguigan), Erin Kerrigan Capt. (Claudy), Leoni McIlroy (Limavady), Erin O’Neil (Ballymaguigan), Eve Diamond (Moneymore), Aoife Collins (Steelstown), Catherine McGuigan (Steelstown), Saoirse Hasson (Limavady), Molly Canning (Limavady), Naoise Kennedy (Coleraine), Niamh Hannon (Moneymore), Kayla Letters (Ballymaguigan), Olivia Mullan (Coleraine), Eve Lundy (Coleraine), Cara White (Claudy), Niamh Gilmore (Steelstown), Caoimhe Higgins (Ballerin), Anna Bonner (Limavady)


Management Team: Barry O’Halloran, Ken Beirne, Breda Corbett, Ray O’Dell, John Hickey and Dan Larkin and Ann Rowsome.

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