Meath U14's Clinch Leinster Final Spot

It has been a testing few weeks for Ladies Football in Meath following their relegation in Division 2 of the Lidl NFL; however, the Under 14 team have helped to shine a ray of sunlight on the county. Passion, determination, sportsmanship, encouragement were evident – and that was just the supporters on the sideline! With flair, hard work and teamwork, the Meath U14s reminded us all that there is pride still in the green and gold of Meath and they booked their place in the Leinster Final on May 28th while doing so, quite the night’s work! Meath were comfortably ahead at half time and despite a determined, well drilled and tough Laois outfit and fight back in the second half, the Meath squad stood resilient and booked their place in the Final.

Action from the Leinster U14 Semi Final where Meath overcame Laois

It was the Royals that got the scoring underway, Emma Duggan converting a free in the opening minute after Aoibhín Bracken won possession from the the throw in. Meath goalkeeper, Aoibheann Corcoran responded brilliantly to two early Laois efforts, superbly saving and dispatching each one to safety. Duggan doubled Meath’s lead on 6 mins when fellow club mate Aideen Jones hit a perfectly timed pass. Ali Sherlock, Mollie Browne and Aoibhe Monaghan kept the Royal defence solid but couldn’t stop Julie Cahill’s brace of scores on 10 and 14 mins to level the game. As both sides battled hard, Meath facing into the wind, it was Royal Gaels’ Maebhdh Byrne that broke the deadlock, the quick footed forward burying the ball into the Laois net for the Royals’ first goal of the game on 15 mins. This opened the floodgates as Meath dominated the second quarter hitting a further 2-03 without reply. Alice McGrath found the back of the Laois net on 16 mins from a narrow angle while Emma Duggan netted for goal number three, Byrne the provider. Meath Captain, Aisling McCabe marshalled the midfield area, restricting and overturning Laois possession while the wing backs Tia Nulty and Caoimhe McPeake were doing Trojan work in keeping out the Laois attacks. Meath were unlucky to lose Olivia Gore to the sin bin, but it was the Royals who increased the scoreboard before half time, Duggan pointing a free on 27 mins. At half time, Meath were much the happier, taking a twelve point lead into the break.

Half Time: Meath 3-05, Laois 0-02

While it was Laois that got on the scoreboard first in the second half, Meath stretched their lead further, Byrne grabbing Meath’s fourth goal on 32 mins. The teams traded scores on 34 and 35 mins respectively with Duggan converting a free for the Royals. Aoibhe Monaghan was once again to the Royal rescue as a key block stopped the Laois attack mid step. Meath were once again reduced to 14 players when Tia Nulty was sin binned, the home side also awarded a penalty that was duly converted by Ava O’Brien on 38 mins. A superb block by Meath goalkeeper Aoibheann Corcoran was deemed a foul and Julie Cahill converted the resulting free on 41 mins. Duggan converted her fourth free of the contest on 44 mins while Caoimhe McPeake stemmed the Laois attack. Lisa Keane pointed for the home side on 44 mins and The Heath footballer was a dangerous prospect every time she ran at the Royal defence. Laois were also to be reduced to 14 players when Aoibhinn Maher was sin binned on 45 mins. Meath were awarded a penalty of their own after Duggan’s shot was footblocked. Substitute Rebecca King was unlucky to see her penalty effort drag just wide of the post. With a little over ten minutes to go, Laois threw everything they had at the Royal rearguard, a goal mouth scramble on 50 mins was key as the Royals came out with the ball, great credit must go to Orla Conlon, Ali Sherlock, Aoibhe Monaghan – the Meath full back line who refused to let Laois get the goal they needed to get back into the game. Instead they limited it to one final score – a point on 53 mins as Meath turned up the heat for the remaining seven mins. Duggan grabbed her second goal of the game on 56 mins. Substitute Tegan Gordon wasted no time in getting stuck in and certainly gave the Meath management reason to consider her for a starting role the next day. Deep into injury time, the Royals added 1-01 to ensure a solid win. Aideen Jones converted Meath’s sixth goal while Duggan converted a point on 62 mins with referee Ciaran Groome blowing for full time on the resumption.

Full Time: Meath 6-08, Laois 1-07

This was a committed and whole hearted performance from the young Royals. Their pace, awareness on the pitch and team ethic will prove hard to beat. A rock solid defence, that had everything thrown at it this evening stood resolute, while in attack Meath performed with flair and took the chances when they were on. They now have just over three weeks to prepare for their Leinster Final on May 28th where they will face the purple and gold of Wexford after they accounted for Louth in the other semi-final on Sunday afternoon by 3-16 to 5-04. Meath will not rest on their laurels however and will know they will have to work hard over the coming weeks to prepare for the Final.

Meath Team & Scorers: Aoibheann Corcoran, Orla Conlon, Ali Sherlock, Aoibhe Monaghan, Tia Nulty, Mollie Browne, Caoimhe McPeake, Aoibhin Bracken, Aisling McCabe (C), Olivia Gore, Maebhdh Byrne (2-00), Eimear Fay (0-01), Alice McGrath (1-00), Emma Duggan (2-07, 5f), Aideen Jones (1-0).

Subs: Ellen Grant for Bracken (42 mins), Keri Martin for Gore (46 mins), Rebecca King for McGrath (48 mins), Tegan Gordon for Byrne (55 mins), Hannah Dardis, Holly Kealy, Saoirse O’Kane, Lauren Donnelly, Lauren McCarthy, Maeve Reilly, Caoimhe Leddy, Alannah Boland, Orla Finnegan, Orla Hayes, Katie Carragher, Meghan Corish, Grace Gavigan, Niamh Mulvihill, Caragh Monaghan, Zoe Matthews.

Laois: Jasmine Burke, Sarah Fleming, Shifra Havill, Ava O’Brien, Leah Kelly, Ciara Byrne, Rebecca Reddin, Julie Cahill, Sarah Larkin, Orla Hennessy, Lisa Keane, Aoibhinn Maher, Orla Knowles, Jenny Murphy, Grainne O’Reilly.

Referee: Ciarán Groome (Offaly)

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