MEATH LADIES TG4 Senior Football Championship Qualifier Round 1


TG4 Senior Football Championship Qualifier Round 1

Meath v Armagh,
Kingspan Breffni Park, Co. Cavan,
Sunday 26th April
Throw-In: 6.45pm
Referee: Liam McDonagh (Sligo)

Half Time: Meath 0-13 v Armagh 0-04
Full Time: Meath 1-13 v Armagh 0-09

Meath comfortably booked their place in the next round of the TG4 Cumann Peil Gael na mBan Senior Championship with an easy win over Armagh in Breffni Park in Cavan on Sunday evening. Having been beaten by Dublin in the Leinster Semi Final three weeks ago, Meath Ladies were eager to put their Senior Championship hopes back on track. This they did, in what could be described as a game of two halves. In the first half the team were confident and played with a panache and style that has not been seen in the team in the last two years. Meath attacked well in the opening half, scoring thirteen out of their fourteen scores. They led throughout the game and took their scores with self-belief and purpose. With the commanding lead of nine points at half time, Meath could perhaps be forgiven for allowing Armagh to come back at them in the second half, but their lack of scoring chances in the second period may be a source of worry for manager Dardis. However, they were by far the better team on the day and a heavy shower which ended the match compounded Armagh’s misery as they face into a battle for relegation.

Meath made the perfect start to the game and registered four scores in the opening four minutes. Good team work from the forwards allowed Elaine Duffy, Geraldine Doherty, Aimee Bennett and Katie O’Brien register four points before some of the crowd had found their way into the stand! The style Meath were playing didn’t give Armagh a chance to get an attack in until the fifth min. Full forward for Armagh, Caitlain Malone, burst through and put the ball between the uprights to register the Orchard County’s first score. Although looking a bit unsteady at the back, Maria Kealy at corner back had a superb game and mopped up a lot of loose ball. Meath registered a further four points between the seventh and eleventh minutes. Geraldine Doherty proved she is getting back to her best form when she scored a fine point with her left boot from a tight angle on 7 mins. Good defending from Louise McKeever set up another attack for Meath and Jenny Rispin made no mistake with the finish. On the resulting kick-out Meath again dominated, with Elaine Duffy pointing and the following kick out was sent back in as quickly as it came out, with Doherty putting it back over the crossbar. Meath leading by eight points to one with 12 mins gone. Armagh then began posing some questions of their own to the Meath defence and on three occasions in three mins, Meath backs fouled the Armagh players to give them three relatively simple points, two through Armagh’s midfielder and arguably their best player on the day, Caroline O’Hanlon and one through the irrepressible Mags McAlinden.
Elaine Duffy added her third of the game on 17 mins, while a foul on Aimee Bennett on Armagh’s 21 yard line allowed Jenny Rispin to put the ball over the black spot. Grainne Nulty added her solitary point of the game with a fine effort from the right hand side on 22 mins. Jenny Rispin added a further point from a free on 27 mins when Katie O’Brien was fouled. It was Meath that ended the half in the attack when Áine Fagan was fouled, Elaine Duffy’s free on 30 mins giving an impressive score at half time, Meath nine points to the good, Meath 0-13 to Armagh’s 0-04.

Meath immediately had defending work to do as the second half resumed but Maria Kealy was in fine form and prevented an Armagh attack. Armagh pulled two points back on 34 and 36 minutes and Meath had plenty of defending to do, with Katie O’Brien and Shauna Bennett coming back to aid the defence. Claire Coffey intercepted plenty of the Armagh attack and the Na Fianna player and Walterstown’s Áine Fagan proved their worth with fine displays of defending. Unfortunately for Fagan she was sin binned for one too many fouls but Jenny Rispin came back from the forwards and was well placed to intercept Armagh’s breaks into the Meath half. Meath were awarded a penalty on 52 mins after a scuffle in the box. Elaine Duffy took it but the keeper was equal to her shot and the follow up. After a further scuffle the ball found its way to the back of the net after Grainne Nulty got the final touch to it, to add Meath’s first score of the second half and final score of the match. Indeed it was a critical score as Armagh had looked for goal and for the safe hands of Irene Munnelly, Meath might have been in trouble. Armagh got in for a further two points on the 55th and 56th minutes but by then the writing was on the wall for the Orchard County.

All in all, for the Royals it was a much more convincing performance. In the first half they were exceptional, inspirational and played with a confidence that was sorely missed against Dublin in the Leinster semi final. Best for Meath were; the St. Ultans trio of Katie O’Brien, Geraldine Doherty and Shauna Bennett, Grainne Nulty, who was awarded ‘Player of the Match’ by TG4, Maria Kealy, Claire Coffey and Áine Fagan. Manager Dardis will certainly relish the challenge of playing one of the Provincial runners up, either Kildare, Mayo, Kerry or Monaghan. Certainly a tougher challenge lies ahead and the County Board is pledging their support to the team with the club championships being postponed until after this qualifier on the 9th August. While Meath Ladies football suffered a bad year last year, it appears that it is now getting back on its feet again and with the confident display over Armagh, the future is starting to look a little brighter for Ladies football in the Royal County once again.

The draw for the next round of the qualifiers will take place during the week with the qualifiers being played on Sunday 9th August, venues and times tbc.

Meath Team & Scorers:
Irene Munnelly, Claire Coffey, Louise McKeever, Maria Kealy, Aedin Murray, Mary Sheridan, Áine Fagan, Jane Burke (capt.), Shauna Bennett, Geraldine Doherty (0-03), Grainne Nulty (1-01), Katie O’Brien (0-01), Elaine Duffy (0-04), Jenny Rispin (0-03), Aimee Bennett (0-01).
Subs: Ciara Dempsey for Murray, Orla Sheridan for Aimee Bennett. Philomena Sheridan, Ciara Daly, Eve Wardick, Rebecca Considine, Sinead McCormack, Avril Robinson, Niamh O’Sullivan, Roisin Nulty, Fiona O’Neill, Aoife Guy, Laura Mulvaney, Lisa Keenan.

Armagh Team:
Catherine McAlinden, Caoimhe Marley, Dervla Mallon, Clodagh McCann, Sinead McCleary, Maebh Moriarty, Rhona McKeever, Caroline O’Hanlon (capt), Sharon Reel, Laura Brown, Shauna O’Hagan, Maria O’Donnell, Caoimhe Murray, Caitlin Malone, Mags McAlinden.

On another bright note for Meath Ladies football the county under 16s landed themselves a place in the All Ireland Final after a nail biting clash with Munster champions Cork. Meath were a goal down at half time but came out with all guns blazing in the second half to land the coveted place in the final against Donegal who overcame Galway. The game ended in a three point victory for Meath with a scoreline of Meath 4 08 to Corks 4 05. The goal scorers for Meath were Katie Callaghan, Adrienne McCann and a brace from Bridgetta Lynch. Eamonn Murray and his back room team will no doubt be relishing the thought of this final as it has been eight years since the under 16s last lifted the All Ireland crown. This game will also be played on the weekend of August 8th or 9th at a venue to be decided.

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