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2024 TG4 All-Ireland Finals tickets

The Kildare Nationalist previews the Ladies All-Ireland Junior Final

Ladies
All-Ireland Junior Final Football Preview 

By Daragh Ó Conchúir


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on above image to go to web site


THE clash of the All-Ireland Ladies Football final
with the Kildare’s county SFC decider has caused
much angst amongst those trying to promote the
ladies game. Support for the Lady Lillies in their
previous appearances at Croke Park has been very
poor and is unlikely to be any better now as a
result of this fixture conflict. None of this,
of course, will make any difference if Kildare
can end their All-Ireland hoodoo on Sunday. It
remains to be seen whether or not those chastening
defeats at the hands of Roscommon and Donegal
in 2001 and last year have left any psychological
or emotional scars that could flare up again if
things were to go wrong on Sunday. There has been
no evidence of that, however, as the freshness
brought about by the introduction of newcomers
such as Elaine Dillon, Clodagh Flanagan and Melissa
and Edel O’Brien has been of major benefit. Stacy
Cannon and Aishling Holton are two youngsters
who have made a major impact this year, with Holton,
last year’s Leinster Young Player of the Year
holding down the centre-back position with authority,
and Cannon having scored in every game in totting
up a tally of 0-17 in the championship.

Kildare’s appetite for the battle has been tested
in some key games this year, most notably the
Division 2 League semi-final, played just five
days after the death of manager, Sean Delaney.
Donegal, who had walloped them in the 2003 All-Ireland,
provided the opposition and surely, if there had
been any brittleness, it would have been exposed
there. Not a bit of it, however. Instead, the
All Whites displayed a heartening stomach for
the fight and prevailed by a point.

Louth also put up a stern test in the decider
but a focused Kildare outfit, with former All
Star and captain, Brianne Leahy, Simone Gilabert
and Tracy Noone leading the way and sub Deirdre
Gately getting a crucial goal, earned their first
national title.

A fifth Leinster title in a row has subsequently
been annexed. This is a remarkable statistic that
is unlikely to be matched, with Leahy lifting
the trophy aloft on each occasion. It is, however,
also a statement of failure and you know that
nobody in the Kildare camp wants to be back winning
a sixth one next year. As against other years,
however, Wexford provided a good challenge in
the provincial decider, which all-action half-forward,
Earley believes will stand to her side. “They
missed a penalty and could have had another goal,
it just went for us on the day. “I think the fact
that Wexford gave us a really tough match in the
Leinster final will have helped too. Last year,
we had no real challenge until the All-Ireland.
Wexford were a regraded team who gave us the test
we needed.”

Armagh were swatted aside in wintry conditions
at Mullingar and now, the day Nuala O’Mahony’s
charges have been waiting for is nigh. Holton,
Flanagan and Aisling Lambe have been stalwarts
in defence with the Leahy sisters, Brianne and
Kate (the latter Kildare’s Footballer of the Year
in 2003, after her older sibling had one it twice)
a class pairing in the middle. The attacking unit
is very exciting. Scores could come from anywhere,
with Earley, Gilabert, Noone and Dillon deadly
when it comes to creating and converting opportunities.
Ineed between them, they have clocked up a whopping
13-70 – an average of 27 points each!

This key mixture of youthful brio and hardened
experience should prove critical when the chips
are down, and bring Kildare’s cathartic process
to an end by finally sealing a place in the senior
ranks with a well-deserved All-Ireland.

This article was kindly given to us by The Kildare
Nationalist Newspaper

 

 


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