Title wins in Dublin for Cuala & Ballinteer St Johns




By Daire Walsh

Martha Byrne landed a superb stoppage-time point at Lawless Memorial Park on Saturday to give Cuala a dramatic win in a nail-biting Dublin Intermediate Ladies Football Championship final showdown with Castleknock.

Having lost narrowly to Clanna Gael Fontenoy in the 2019 decider, the Dalkey side looked set for similar heartache when an Aoife Whelan goal edged Castleknock in front with just three minutes of normal time remaining. However, there was a steely determination in the Cuala ranks and they rose to the occasion in a nail-biting conclusion.

After Jennifer Dunne had brought them back on level terms, her inter-county colleague Byrne stepped forward to split the posts in clinical fashion. Castleknock had played their part in an enthralling spectacle and were desperately unfortunate to finish on the wrong side of the result.

Nevertheless, considering they were junior county champions as recently as 2018, the westside club have reason to be positive about the road ahead. Whelan and Hannah Hanlon impressed throughout in attack, while centre-back Sinead Comerford also led by example in a powerful Castleknock effort.

This wasn’t the first meeting of these two sides in this year’s competition. Having already confirmed their respective spots in the knockout phase with previous successes against Skerries Harps and Man-O-War, they subsequently clashed in the final round of Group One on August 12.

In a compelling contest at Hyde Road, Cuala had three points (4-11 to 3-11) to spare over Castleknock. This was only a minor speed bump for the latter and following an 0-16 to 1-5 triumph at the expense of 2017 champions Naomh Maur seven days later, the Somerton Park outfit advanced to this showpiece encounter.

On the same evening, Cuala overcame Parnell’s on a final scoreline of 6-8 to 1-7. John McKeown’s charges were agonisingly close to securing senior status last year and were hell-bent on avoiding a second straight final defeat at the home of Fingallians.

They couldn’t have dreamt of a better start to the action as Molly Basquille – first cousin to Byrne – had the ball in the Castleknock net with just 40 seconds gone on the clock. The corner-forward fired home at the end of a surging run by Dunne and this was a feature of Cuala’s play in the opening quarter.

The two-time All-Ireland winner put through Dublin camogie star Sinead Wylde in the sixth-minute, only for Castleknock netminder Amy Mahony to turn away her resulting strike. Jess Tobin operated as a sweeper for the duration of the proceedings, offering vital protection to Byrne and her defensive team-mates.

A sister of Dublin men’s senior footballer Michael, Gráinne Fitzsimons lined out in the full-back line alongside Anna Moran – daughter of Irish Times GAA correspondent Sean Moran. Dunne and Wylde were developing a telepathic understanding at the opposite end, with the latter kicking a fine point on the stroke of 10 minutes.

Directly preceding the first water break of the game, Hanlon converted a free to open the Castleknock account. Molly Lewis later responded with a point of her own for Cuala, before ‘Knock came roaring back into contention

On 20 minutes, Eimear Griffin picked up possession deep inside the opposition ’45’. Clodagh Sheehan got her fingertips to the inside forward’s high shot, but it ultimately trickled over the line.

Despite seeing their advantage reduced to the bare minimum, Cuala quickly reinforced their authority. The tireless Wylde discovered a gap through the heart of the Castleknock rearguard and unleashed a left-footed drive into the bottom right-hand corner.

Though Cuala were once again in a commanding position, they were placed under sustained pressure for the remainder of the half. Hanlon (free), Caitlin Coffey and midfielder Lauren O’Neill raised white flags in quick succession to leave Castleknock a single point adrift (2-2 to 1-4) at the interval.

While Cuala remained in the ascendancy, there was no doubt that the challenge of their opponents (jointly managed by Ciaran Barry and Kevin Finney) was beginning to rise. A Hanlon free brought Castleknock back on level terms and the same player was on hand to move her side in front for the very first time seven minutes after the restart.

The longer the tie wore on, the more comfortable they were becoming in defence. After generating a series of goal chances in the opening period, Cuala were now finding space was at a premium in attack.

The Caitriona Murphy-led side didn’t panic, though, and substitute Jennifer Sheeran halted their lengthy scoring drought with a point on 40 minutes. Cuala had benefited from Dunne’s excellent approach work up to this juncture and the dynamic centre-fielder finally added her name to the scoresheet with a routine close-range free.

A daughter of team selector Derek Dunne, she went on to contribute two frees in the space of 60 seconds at the tail end of the third-quarter. Cuala were back in the driving seat but, with Aisling O’Donnell and Hanlon posting points either side of the second half water break, Castleknock were firmly in the reckoning heading towards the home stretch.

Mahony came to the rescue of her side once more in the 52nd-minute, tipping over Dunne’s goal bound shot. A goal here could well have placed the outcome beyond all doubt.

Instead, Castleknock turned the tables on their southside counterparts with a second goal five minutes later. A camogie compatriot of Wylde at inter-county level, Whelan rattled the opposing net with a low finish at a right-hand angle.

The gauntlet had been thrown down to Cuala, but they delivered in spades during a frantic finale. Dunne wiped out their deficit with a trademark score and after Wylde’s effort rebounded off the woodwork, Castleknock had substitute Jess Comerford sin-binned on the hour mark.

Cuala fully utilised their numerical supremacy in the remaining minutes and when the opportunity arose for Byrne to dissect the uprights, she did so with both style and aplomb. Castleknock fought until the end, but Cuala held firm to secure their maiden title at this grade.

Scorers – Cuala: Jennifer Dunne 0-5 (3f), Sinead Wylde 1-1, Molly Basquille 1-0, Martha Byrne, Molly Lewis, Jennifer Sheeran 0-1 each. Castleknock: Hannah Hanlon 0-5 (5f), Aoife Whelan, Eimear Griffin 1-0 each, Lauren O’Neill, Caitlin Coffey, Aisling O’Donnell 0-1 each.

CUALA: Clodagh Sheehan; Gráinne Fitzsimons, Sinead Murphy, Anna Moran; Cliodhna Kelly, Martha Byrne, Emma Ryan; Jennifer Dunne, Caitriona Murphy; Cathy Brock, Grainne O’Driscoll, Molly Lewis; Jess Tobin, Sinead Wylde, Molly Basquille.

Subs: Ellen Deegan, Blaithin Lane, Roisin O’Toole, Rena Mullally, Ciara McKeown, Jennifer Sheeran, Ciara O’Shea, Ciara Byrne, Kate Kirkwood, Rachael Hartnett, Orlaith O’Sullivan, Cara Sullivan, Alison Hickey, Laura Dunne, Leanne Doyle.

CASTLEKNOCK: Amy Mahony; Laura O’Hare, Jenny Hickey, Louise Mahony; Nicola Fagan, Sinead Comerford, Denise Convery; Lauren O’Neill, Laura Carolan; Aoife Whelan, Aisling O’Connor, Caitlin Coffey; Hannah Hanlon, Aisling O’Donnell, Eimear Griffin.

Subs: Ciara Murray, Orlaith Higgins, Jess Comerford, Aoife Douglas, Emma Finney, Sinead Cremin, Sophie King, Cara Feeney, Lelia Ryan, Mired Griffin, Tara King, Claire Nulty.

Player of the Match: Amy Mahony (Castleknock)

Referee: Gavin Donegan (Trinity Gaels).


Dublin LGFA Junior Club Championship Final


ST JUDES  1-07

By Nigel McCarthy

Orlagh Nolan put in a Player of the Match display to lead Ballinteer St Johns to the Dublin LGFA Junior A title on Friday nightin St Margarets GAA club against St Judes.

The midfield star gave an all action display and must have covered every blade of grass at the north Dublin venue, Nolan’s ball winning ability, incisive runs, intelligent passing and scoring prowess which seen her finishing as top scorer on the night with a tally of 1-04 was a joy to behold.

Nolan though wasn’t the only Ballinteer player to shine in the final, the powerful running of Niamh Sweeney opened up the St Judes defence on a number of occasions, Grace Dent was a constant thorn in the side for the Judes defence with her movement and ability to evade her marker and take scores and half-back sisters Michelle and Niamh Carey were outstanding throughout, rock solid in their defensive duties and broke forward at every opportunity using their pace and guile to keep Ballinteer on the front foot.

For St Judes dual player Aoife Walsh despite being under constant pressure from a relentless Ballinteer side was excellent at full back putting in numerous blocks and interceptions throughout the game.

Cliona Nicoletti had the unenvious task of marking Orlagh Nolan and did a fine job against a player in inspired form with Nicoletti her constant shadow throughout. Hannah Hegarty another dual player and captain of the Dublin Senior Camogie team worked her socks off in the St Judes midfield engine room that was under immense pressure throughout and made some timely interceptions and used her cultured passing to try and stem the tide.

Up front Deirdre O’Shea and Niamh Kerr although feeding off scraps for most of the game were dangerous on the ball and took their chances when they came with O’Shea who hails from Laois finishing as St Judes top scorer on the night with 1-03 and Monaghan native Kerr chipping in with 0-02.

The game started with a flurry of action, St Judes won the throw-in and broke forward, the ball was fed into Emily Burke who’s effort just went wide. The Tymon North side were then grateful to keeper Aoife McAuliffe who pulled off two saves from goal bound shots from Grace Dent the second of which went out for a 45’ which was dispatched by Orlagh Nolan for the opening score of the final in the sixth minute.

A minute later and Ballinteer intercepted a ball in their own half, the ball was worked to Niamh Sweeney just inside the Judes half and the Dublin senior panel member went on a penetrating run and was then fouled, up stepped Nolan also a member of the Dublin senior panel to swing the ball over the bar.

Judes finally got on the scoreboard in the ninth minute with a point from Deirdre O’ Shea after some good build up play. Grace Dent grabbed her first point of the evening after a good run down the right she cut inside to split the posts.

Ballinteer extended their lead to three moments later with Niamh Carey joining the attack from her half-back position and she was in the right place to finish off the move with a fine point.

At this stage it was one way traffic with Judes were struggling to get out of their own half and on sixteen minutes a quick exchange of passes between Orlagh Nolan and Grace Dent put Nolan in at the back post to finish to the net.

A point from Sadhbh Nic Uileagoid pushed Ballinteer further ahead and Judes desperately needed a response at the other end to stop their opponents from disappearing into the distance and Niamh Kerr obliged with a sublime point.

A point from Grace Dent was quickly cancelled out with an excellent point from Deirdre O’Shea after some determined work from Aisling Gannon to win possession.

But Ballinteer went straight back down the other end and Orlagh Nolan cut in along the end line and split the sticks from a tight angle.

With four minutes to the break Nolan won the resultant kick-out, drove forward and hit a pinpoint pass to Niamh Sweeney to the left of the goal and she drove a low hard shot into the bottom right hand corner of the net to leave the score 2-07 to 0-03.

Another point from Grace Dent in the 27th minute put eleven points between the teams and Judes faced an uphill battle to get back into the game.

Ballinteer though suffered a blow when Shauna Garvin was forced off with an injury and was replaced by Caoimhe Brennan.

An excellent move involving Ellie Young, Aoife Keyes, Lisa Morris and Niamh Kerr finished with an excellent point from Kerr for St Judes to reduce the deficit.

Ballinteer hit back with a point from Sweeney and just before the half time whistle Lisa Morris popped over a point for Judes to leave the score at the break 2-09 to 0-05 in Ballinteer’s favour.

Judes needed to start on the front foot in the second half but it was Ballinteer who drew first blood with a stunning point from Niamh Carey who ran through the centre of the Judes defence and hit a beauty between the posts.

St Judes gathered a bit of momentum and hit two points in a row, the first a free from Ellie Young and the second another accurate effort from Deirdre O’Shea.

But again Judes were thankful to their keeper McAuliffe who pulled off an excellent save to deny Grace Dent a goal after good build up play involving Niamh Sweeney and Roisin Nic Uileagoid.

A converted free from Orlagh Nolan in the 42nd minute and a point two minutes later from Niamh Casy put eleven points between the sides with the score 2-12 to 0-07.

In fairness to St Judes they never dropped their heads and battled right to the end but they just couldn’t break down a resolute Ballinteer defence.

Grace Dent who impressed throughout the contest grabbed her fourth point of the final with nine minutes left on the clock and in the final minute of normal time Orlagh Nolan hit a free to unmarked substitute Belon Swords in between the Judes full-back and half-back line and Belon swung the ball over the bar.

There was still time for some late drama, Judes won a free deep in the Ballinteer half and up stepped Deirdre O’Shea to take it, she took a quick look at the goal and hit a looping shot into the top centre of the net despite a number of Ballinteer players on the goal line.

In the final attack of the game Ballinteer swept up field and Belon Swords put late substitute and team captain Caitriona O’Brien in on goal, but she was denied by another excellent save from St Judes keeper Aoife McAuliffe.

Seconds later the full-time whistle sounded and the celebrations began for Ballinteer St Johns who were deservedly crowned the 2020 Dublin LGFA Junior A club champions with the final score 2-14 to 1-07.

Ballinteer St Johns Scorers: Orlagh Nolan 1-04 (1F, 1 45’), Niamh Sweeney 1-01, Grace Dent 0-04, Sadhbh Nic Uileagoid 0-01, Niamh Casey 0-01, Michelle Carey 0-01, Niamh Carey 0-01, Belen Swords 0-01.

St Judes Scorers: Deirdre O’Shea 1-03, Niamh Kerr 0-02, Ellie Young 0-01 (1F), Lisa Morris 0-01.

Ballinteer St Johns Substitutions:

20. Caoimhe Brennan for 14. Shauna Garvin (30th Min), 24. Belen Swords for 13. Roisin Nic Uileagoid (50th Min), 23. Caitriona O’Brien for 11. Niamh Sweeney (52nd Min).

St Judes Substitutions:

16. Aoife Rockett for 9. Aoife Keyes (42 Min), 17. Caoimhe O’Brien for 14. Niamh Kerr (54th Min).

Ballinteer St Johns

1. Roisin Kiernan, 2. Elaine Egan, 3. Eile Keenan, 4. Niamh Leahy, 5. Michelle Carey, 6. Niamh Carey, 7. Laoise Tully, 8. Orlagh Nolan, 9. Kate Barr, 10. Niamh Casey, 11. Niamh Sweeney, 12. Sadhbh Nic Uileagoid, 13. Roisin Nic Uileagoid, 14. Shauna Garvin, 15 Grace Dent.

Ballinteer St Johns Panel:

16: Emily Naughton, 18: Ruth Nolan, 19: Naoise Mooney, 20: Caoimhe Brennan, 21: Rachel Kavanagh, 22: Eavan Fitzgerald, 23: Caitriona O’Brien (C), 24: Belen Swords, 25: Grace McLoughlin, 26: Eleanor Aherne, 27: Deirbhle Nolan.

Ballinteer St Johns Management:

Eamonn Naughton (Manager), Alan Garvin (Mentor), Paul Leahy (Covid Officer), Clare Egan (FLO), Kelly Keane (Physio).

St Judes

25. Aoife McAuliffe, 2. Laura Doherty, 3. Aoife Walsh, 4. Emily Browne, 19. Clare Gannon, 6. Niamh Doherty, 7. Cliona Nicoletti, 8. Hannah Hegarty, 9. Aoife Keyes (C), 10. Ellie Young, 11. Deirdre O’Shea, 12. Aisling Gannon, 13. Lisa Morris, 14. Niamh Kerr, 15. Emily Burke.

St Judes Panel:

1: Sarah Thomas, 5: Roisin Connolly, 16: Aoife Rockett, 17: Caoimhe O’Brien, 18: Sophie Dunworth, 19: Clare Gannon, 20: Caitriona Devlin, 21: Jessie Collins, 22: Micah Collins, 23: Leisha Kennedy, 24: Lisa Fallon, 26: Ava Lewis, 27: Laura Martina, 28: Lauren Kearney, 29: Una Nerney, 30: Leah Butler.

St Judes Management:

Jeff Kane, Trevor Dunworth, Mick Nerney, Pauline Doherty, John Conlon, Clara McGann, Tom Murray.

Player of the Match: Orlagh Nolan (Ballinteer St Johns)


IMAGES CREDIT http://gaapics.com/

Sign up to our email newsletter


Partners & Supporters





See all LGFAClubs