Meaths qualification hopes hit stumbling block

Meaths hopes of qualification hit stumbling block

Bord Gáis Energy National Ladies Football League Division 2
Round 3
Meath v Donegal
Páirc Tailteann, Navan
4th April 2010. Throw in 2pm

Half Time: Meath 1-08 v Donegal 2-06
Full Time: Meath 1-11 v Donegal 3-11

Meath’s hopes of qualifying for the semi finals of the National Ladies League hit a stumbling block with defeat to Donegal in Páirc Tailteann today. Victory would have ensured a place in the semis and Meath went into the game all guns blazing. This fixture was re-fixed as the weather had called it off previously, it had been fixed for the 18th April, but had then been brought forward to 4th April to complete the round matches before the last stage of the round robin series next Sunday 11th April. This hindered the Meath team as had to field without the influential Elaine Duffy due to holidays. Despite this, a determined Meath team took the field and it took them twenty seconds to score the opener, possibly the fastest goal scored in the league! Winning the throw in, Meath sent a long ball into Samantha Martin, and the Dee Ranger’s player needed no second chance to find the back of the net! Catching the Donegal defenders cold, Meath were immediately in the driving seat.

Donegal opened their scoring for the afternoon on 3 mins but this was immediately cancelled out after Roisin Nulty was fouled and Geraldine Doherty converted the resulting free on five mins. Despite great defending from Clare Coffey and Ciara Dempsey, Donegal quickly found their scoring boots and shot over 1-02 without reply through Yvonne McMonagle and Niamh Hegarty. Donegal’s centre back Karen Guthrie was in fine form and provided the Donegal attack with plenty of ball to use.
Clare Coffey was once again to the fore, denying her player on every occasion, much to the delight of the Meath supporters who had turned up to cheer their team on. On 14 mins, Ciara Dempsey played a long ball into Mary Sheridan who ran it into the corner before finding Geraldine Doherty in space and the Ultans player had just a simple tap over to pull a point back for the Royals. This was cancelled out a moment later through McMonagle although the Royals were starting to dominate proceedings and a 45′ taken by Jenny Rispin on 16 minutes was aimed into the box and Oldcastle’s Bridgetta Lynch was the lucky player to get her hands to the ball placed it between the posts to leave the Royals trailing by a solitary point, Meath 1-03, Donegal 1-04. The teams traded points on 20 mins with Doherty again on target for the Royals. A goal by Hegarty on 21 mins allowed Donegal pull into the lead firmly once more, but good work from Jenny Rispin and Geraldine Doherty allowed Doherty to point twice on 23 and 24 mins. On 25 mins Hegarty pointed once more for the Donegal side but it was the Royals who finished the half the stronger pointing twice on 27 and 31 mins through Rispin and Doherty to recover from conceding the second goal. At half time it ended with the Royals trailing by one point, Meath 1-08 to Donegal’s 2-06.

After the restart, Meath looked a shadow of their first half selves and Donegal came out as strong as ever. Meath conceded a penalty on 34 mins, but this was blasted over the bar by McMonagle. A minute later Donegal put three points between the sides with a well taken point from Ailish Ward. On 38 mins Donegal found the back of the net for the third time with the irrevocable McMonagle who was causing havoc in the Meath back line. Fine shooting from Doherty was keeping Meath in contention with a fine point on 41 mins. This was cancelled out by McMonagle on 44 mins. A stunning shot by Orla Sheridan rebounded off the crossbar and in the resulting scuffle, substitute Vivienne McCormack was fouled and Jenny Rispin converted the resulting free on the 13m line. Further pressure from Donegal on 47 mins became lucky for the Royals when it was flagged wide. On 50 mins Rispin added her third of the afternoon from a free, cancelled out on the resumption by Deirdre Foley. In the last few minutes Meath threw everything at the Donegal defence but couldn’t find a way through. Meath goalkeeper Monica McGuirk saved Royal blushes with a terrific save on 56 mins. Donegal had the last say in the game with Guthrie getting the point she deserved on 60 mins. Despite Donegal being six points clear Meath continued to try and good defending from Jenny Rispin, Shauna Bennett and Lynch right at the end made Royals hope that there is more to come from this team with the Championship season creeping ever closer. It ended in Páirc Tailteann with Donegal victorious 3-11 to Meath’s 1-11.

Meath’s first half display encapsulated Royal desire, players committing themselves to tackles and playing confidently. However Donegal were always able to increase pressure wherever necessary. Meath played a fast game in the first half but seemed to run short on steam in the second. Manager Brendan Dardis will surely be looking to improve on this ahead of the visit of Down next weekend. Best for Meath today was Monica McGuirk, Clare Coffey, Ciara Dempsey, Jenny Rispin and Geraldine Doherty.

Meath take on Down next weekend in the last round of the league. Victory is essential for Meath to proceed on to the semi finals of the league. The two teams have had two different experiences in the league. Meath are hoping to make the knock out stages of the league while the Mourne County are trying to avoid relegation. However the Mourne side were victorious last year when Meath played them in the All Ireland Qualifiers. Meath’s chances will be boosted with the return of Elaine Duffy to the side. Venue and time is yet to be confirmed but the stage is now set for the final clash to finalise the group stages.

Meath Team & Scorers: M.McGuirk, C. Coffey, P. Sheridan (capt.), M. Kealy, C. Dempsey, A. Murray, E. Wardick, M. Sheridan, J. Rispin (0-03), G. Doherty (0-07), S. Bennett, R. Nulty, O. Sheridan, B. Lynch (0-01), S. Martin (1-00). Subs: S. Byrne for Kealy (22 mins), V. McCormack for Nulty (39 mins), T. Ryan for Martin (39 mins), R. Considine for Wardick (40 mins), A. Leavy for P. Sheridan (45 mins).

Donegal Team: K. Keeney, D. Toner, M. Herron, K. Wilson, C. Hegarty, K. Guthrie, G. Houston, M. Devenney, A. McDonald, A. Ward, Y. McMonagle, D. Foley, R. Friel, N. Hegarty, M. O’Donnell.

Referee: Tony Lennon (Dublin)

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