Tipperary Claim Minor B Crown

This clash of Munster champions and 2014 All Ireland holders Tipperary with Ulster champions Armagh saw both sets of supporters converge on a bright and sunny but windy Kinnegad, Co Westmeath on Saturday last for this year’s All Ireland minor ladies football ‘B’ final.

Tipp v Aramgh Minor B Final 2015LGFA_010815_6761

Both teams were here on merit having won their respective provincial championships and were once again renewing rivalry having met in last year’s All Ireland semi final where Tipperary had prevailed. Tipperary, en route to today’s final had defeated Kerry, Waterford (twice) and Offaly in their semi final. The Offaly game had been a stern test for the Tipperary ladies who eventually won by a margin of three points. Armagh also had an impressive campaign scoring goals with abandon, an average of six per game. This Tipperary team included eleven of last year’s minor winners and some from the successful Tipperary under 16 winning team of 2014 also. The Armagh team included a number of ladies playing football with the Armagh senior panel so this final was at best a 50:50 encounter between two well prepared and experienced sides.

Tipperary lost the toss and were to play against the strong breeze in the first half. From the throw in Tipperary’s midfield pairing of team captain Elaine Fitzpatrick and Aishling Moloney won the first ball and with less than 30 seconds played Orla O’Dwyer had recorded Tipperary’s first point from play. Almost immediately the same player again received possession and a second point saw Tipperary with a two point lead and a dream start against the northern ladies. Armagh however now began to settle and both sets of supporters began to see the Ulster champions in full flow. In the fourth minute Tipperary were hit with the games first goal when Armagh’s number 11 Aoife Kane rattled the net. The Armagh ladies were now gathering momentum and a fine point quickly followed from the boot of senior Armagh player Aimee Mackin on nine minutes. A strong run from the Armagh number 5 Blaithin Mackin up the middle ended with the same player finishing to the Tipperary net. The Tipperary defence may have been expecting her to offload allowing her time to close in on goals. With Tipperary now 2-1 to 0-2 behind and playing against the wind Tipperary supporters had cause for concern. From the Tipperary kick out they pressed forward and when Orla O’Dwyer received possession after some fine work by Tipperary’s Roisin Howard and Kate Davey she finished to the Armagh net in some style.

The game now flowed from one end of the field to the other with the Tipperary defence foiling the Armagh forward line time and time again. Armagh answered with a fine point for Aoibhinn Henderson in the fourteenth minute and went three up before Tipperary’s Niamh Treacy used her strength turning her marker and unleashed an unstoppable shot past the Armagh keeper. Remarkably Tipperary were now back on level terms having soaked up immense Armagh pressure. This was due in no small way to the tremendous work rate by all six Tipperary defenders. Laura Morrissey, Maria Curley and Grainne Condon in the full back line and Elaine Kelly, Louise Cadell and Aoife Corcoran in the half back line were simply outstanding in dealing with the potent Armagh attacking threat. Tipperary were now enjoying a purple patch notwithstanding playing against the wind and Armagh appeared a little shell shocked. An Aishling Moloney point for Tipperary saw them take the lead once more and when a further two points for Tipperary followed from the boots of Aoibhe O’Shea on twenty minutes and Orla O’Dwyer on the twenty first minute Tipperary were ahead by three points, 2-5 to 2-2 and growing in confidence. Armagh now injected some urgency once more and when Tipperary midfielder Aishling Moloney was deemed to have tripped an Armagh attacker in front of goals she was sin binned for the remainder of the first half. Tipperary were now down to fourteen players against the wind and this could have been a match turning event such was the energy sapping pace at which the game was being played. The Tipperary girls responded immediately with every player increasing their own work rate. Tipperary’s management made some swift decisions and a number of the Tipperary forwards were now seen back assisting their midfield and defence. Top scorer Orla O’Dwyer popped up at wing back on one occasion and less than a minute later had Tipperary’s third goal scored at the other end of the field. This must have been a blow to the Armagh girls who were now behind by six points despite having the extra player and wind assistance. In their next attack Tipperary goalie Emer McCarthy made a top class save when Armagh looked certain to score. Now in added time in the first half Armagh finished with a point having been held scoreless for almost fifteen minutes.

Half time score Tipperary 3-5 Armagh 2-3

When Tipperary’s Kate Davey pointed almost immediately on the resumption many in the sizable travelling support expected Tipperary to now press on and add to their six point advantage especially with Aishling Moloney now back on board. However it was now Armagh’s turn to strike back and an Aimee Mackin goal on thirty four minutes saw Armagh once more back in contention. Tipperary were now guilty of some over carrying and intended passes began to go astray between midfield and the forward line. An Aoibhe O’Shea point and another from Aishling Moloney from play steadied the ship a little in the 37th and 38th minute but Armagh were now enjoying some quality possession and using long delivered ball up the wings in an attempt to get their dangerous forwards quality ball. Following an Armagh wide a poor Tipperary clearance was punished when the Armagh midfielder scored a beautiful point from the right hand side from far out on thirty nine minutes. Almost immediately a second clearance was again punished when Tipperary failed to win their own kick out. The game was now back to three points, 3-8 to 3-5 with Armagh growing in confidence once more. The teams now traded a further two points from Tipperary’s Orla O’Dwyer and Armagh’s best player Aimee Mackin. Tipperary’s Aoibhe O’Shea added another fine point putting Tipperary four ahead with just over ten minutes remaining. Tipperary introduced Evrena Everard for Kate Davey up front and Evrena Everard was quickly onto ball and keeping possession in the Armagh half of the field. Shania Dowling was also introduced for Laura Morrissey in defence and she too added some fresh impetus to the Tipperary defence.

Armagh now threw caution to the wind and went looking for the goals to win the game. Tipperary goalie Emer McCarthy as she has done throughout this campaign made two crucial saves from marauding Armagh forwards when they looked certain to score. An Armagh goal at this stage would have been critical one feels but Tipperary held firm and even when Armagh closed the gap to two points with five minutes remaining there was no panic. It was now a two point game but Tipperary were keeping possession up front in the Armagh half of the field and when Niamh Treacy unleashed a fine point from distance nothing but a goal would save Armagh. Eimear Loughman now replaced the hard working Caoimhe Condon in the Tipperary attack. Tipperary’s Orla O’Dwyer scored the next and final score of the game and insurance point with time up. A minute’s additional time was played but it was to be Tipperary’s year and when Mayo referee Garry McMahon blew full time Tipperary were Minor Ladies ‘B’ Champions 2015 completing a two in a row of minor titles.

Final score Tipperary 3-12 Armagh 3-8

Tipperary : Emer McCarthy, Aherlow, Laura Morrissey, Brian Borus, Maria Curley, Templemore, Grainne Condon , Aherlow, Elaine Kelly, Cappawhite, Louise Cadell, Templemore, Aoife Corcoran, Cahir, Aishling Moloney, Cahir (0-2), Elaine Fitzpatrick (Capt) Templemore, Caoimhe Condon, Brian Borus, Roisin Howard, Cahir, Aoibhe O’Shea, Mullinahone (0-3), Orla O’Dwyer, Boherlahan (2-5), Niamh Treacy, Templemore (1-1), Kate Davey, Fethard (0-1)

Subs used: Evrena Everard, Moyle Rovers for Kate Davey, Fethard (50 mins), Shania Dowling, Moyle Rovers for Laura Morrissey (52 mins), Eimear Loughman, Cappawhite for Caoimhe Condon (54 mins).

Panel: Holly O’Dwyer Thurles Sarsfields, Megan Shanahan Moyle Rovers, Aine Dunne Mullinahone, Saoirse McGeever Clonmel Commercials, Breana O’Gorman Moycarkey Borris, Aine O’Carroll Arravale Rovers, Roisin Finnane Galtee Rovers, Miriam Campion Templemore, Niamh Coffey Boherlahan, Lisa Currivan Boherlahan, Heather Phelan Sliabhnamban, Sarah Morrissey Aherlow, Orla Burke Moyle Rovers.

Management: Anthony O’Brien, Siobhan Condon, Pat Morrissey, Mary O’Shea. Physio:. Aidan Bradshaw.

Match Report by Assistant PRO, Declan O’Shea

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