Meath Ladies Division 2b Round 2

Meath Ladies Division 2b Round 2
Bord Gais Energy Ladies National Football League 2009
Meath v Longford,
Trim G.A.A.,
Sunday 15th February
Throw-In: 1pmHalf Time: Meath 0-05 v Longford 0-03
Full Time: Meath 1-11 v Longford 1-09

Meath opened their National League account for 2009 with a hard fought win at the expense of Longford in the superb new facilities of Trim G.A.A centre. Relegated from Division One last year, this was Meath’s first outing in Division Two since they had actually beaten Longford in the 1998 League Final. If anyone was doubtful over the commitment of the Meath team this year, their doubts were surely put to rest today. Meath battled hard to the very end and never gave up. Although conceding a penalty in the first half and having a player sin binned in the second, Meath didn’t get their rub of the green, and with so many players sidelined due to injury, manager Brendan Dardis was delighted to get the win.

Although Longford had an early shot to put themselves on the scoreboard, it was Meath that opened the scoring with a well-taken point from Gillian Bennett. Mary Sheridan found Eve Wardick in space and the Simonstown player found Bennett, who finished the move superbly in the third minute. Meath at the back though seemed to stand off their players and this allowed Longford in, but they couldn’t convert their chances. Áine Fagan and Aoife O’Rourke were prominent in the backs, both players looking to make a good impression with minor manager, Geraldine Sheridan watching on the sideline.
In the eighth minute Longford equalised through full forward, Denise Murtagh. A minute later Longford were ahead as Meath’s loose defence allowed them point from close range. Scores were level on ten minutes when Wardick was fouled inside the Longford 45′ and Bennett duly stepped up and put the ball between the posts.
On twelve minutes Meath’s defence was again called into question when Longford got into the parallelogram, Aoife O’Rourke was unlucky to catch the Longford player and brought her down. A penalty was the outcome, but 2007 All Star nominee goalkeeper, Irene Munnelly wasn’t going to be beaten.
This should have given the Meath team a boost but they still allowed Longford time and space on the ball. It was to their misfortune that they didn’t convert their chances. On 14 mins, Longford went one ahead through wing forward, Fiona Farrell, making the score three points to two.

It was the Royal County that were to be the happier at half time, Gillian Bennett was again to the fore, a long aimed shot in the 21st min was unlucky to fall just short into the box, but her next effort on 22 mins from a free had no such problems, bringing the scoreboard level once more. Shauna Bennett added a fourth for Meath on 24 mins. Áine Fagan put faith back into the Meath defence as she cleared the lines twice in succession. On the second occasion a clever ball into Mary Sheridan, allowed her to find Shauna Bennett who ran at the defence, found Gillian Bennett and the St. Michaels player increased her personal tally to four points on 27 mins. Philomena Sheridan had the last say of the half, but was unlucky to see her shot go narrowly wide. At half time, it was anyone’s game, but the Royal County had just the edge, leading five points to three.

Whatever was said to the Longford team at half time worked a treat as they come out with all guns blazing. Although they had finished two points adrift in the opening half, they were back on terms and were three points ahead after eight minutes. Katherine Lynch pulled a point back on 33 mins. A minute later, Edel Quinn sailed through the Meath defence and found the back of the net with a well aimed kick towards Munnelly’s goal. On 37 mins, Longford went a further point ahead, making the score
1-05 to 0-05. On 38 mins, a tackle by Brid Guy was deemed too tough by referee Tony Lennon and the Boardsmill player was sin binned for ten minutes. This awoke something within the other 14 players on the field as they worked tirelessly at reeling in Longford’s lead. A penalty shout on 40 minutes was denied although Shauna Bennett appeared to be tripped in the small parallelogram. Longford went one more ahead through Murtagh again, but with encouragement from the sideline Meath got back into the game, picking off their scores one by one. Gillian Bennett had certainly brought her shooting boots, scoring four in succession, with Longford scoring one more. This left the score at Longford 1-08, Meath 0-09.

However, on 22 mins, Áine Fagan got there ahead of her marker, and got the ball to substitute Niamh O’Sullivan. Niamh tried the long ball option, the first time it had really been tried in the game by Meath and it worked as Jenny Rispin gathered it in, and set off on a run, which ended in the back of the net. This gave the Royals a huge lift, and belief that all was not lost. On 55 mins, Longford midfielder Lizzie Brady levelled the game again, at 1-09 a piece. It seemed as though the game would be shared, but neither team wished for the outcome. Mary Sheridan was sublime in the air, winning a difficult kick out, and was fouled. Gillian Bennett stepped up to take the free, and quite incredibly, from 50 yards pointed her ninth score of the game. Longford had time for one more attack on goal, but substitute Sinead McCormack was on hand to block the shot, to the relief of the supporters on the sideline. The ball was brought back down the field and found the goal scorer Jenny Rispin. With a kick Cristiano Ronaldo would have been proud of, her back to goal, she kicked the ball over her head, it unbelievably went over the bar to ensure a two point win for the home team. The game ended with Meath two points to the good, 1-11 to Longford’s 1-09.

All in all, it was a gritty determined performance from the Meath team. Their first league win since 2007 will surely give them a boost ahead of a difficult encounter next weekend away against Fermanagh. Brendan Dardis was forced to put out a new enough side with so many out injured, but will be relieved the game turned out okay in the end. Meath were best represented by Áine Fagan, Jenny Rispin, Eve Wardick, Philomena Sheridan and Gillian Bennett and will be hoping for a repeat victory nest Saturday night under lights in Kinawley, Co. Fermanagh when they take on Fermanagh in the third round of the league. Throw in is at 7.30pm.

I. Munnelly, C. Coffey, B. Guy, A. Fagan, C. Daly, J. Rispin (1-01), A. O’Rourke, C. Dempsey, E. Wardick, F. Nevin, P. Sheridan, A. Bennett, G. Bennett (0-09), M. Sheridan, S. Bennett (0-01).
Subs: S. McCormack for Rispin (20 mins), A. Guy for Nevin (30 mins), N. O’Sullivan for O’Rourke (39 mins), Rispin for S. Bennett (44 mins), L. McKeever for Daly (50 mins), M. Kealy for Dempsey (53 mins). O. McLaughlin, A. Robinson, B. Brennan, R. Considine.
Referee: Tony Lennon (Dublin)

Next Friday night, the 20th, Meath Ladies County Board are running their opening fundraiser of the year in the Palace, Navan. Gladiator School, doors open at 8pm. Contact for more information or check out the Meath Ladies website

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