2024 TG4 All-Ireland Finals tickets

Waterford Edge Roscommon in Thriller



It was an incredible All-Ireland final that ended in heartbreak for Roscommon. At MacDonagh Park, Nenagh on Wednesday evening, the county’s U-16 ladies left every last drop of their worth on the field. But yet, somehow, the outcome was tears and shattered dreams.



29 July 2015; Waterford Captain Chloe Fennell lifts the cup. All Ireland U16 B Ladies Football Championship Final, Roscommon v Waterford, McDonagh Park, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary. Picture credit: Seb Daly / SPORTSFILE
29 July 2015; Waterford Captain Chloe Fennell lifts the cup. All Ireland U16 B Ladies Football Championship Final, Roscommon v Waterford, McDonagh Park, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary. Picture credit: Seb Daly / SPORTSFILE

Teams don’t always get what they deserve, but a replay would most definitely have been a fair result. After over an hour of an outrageous rollercoaster of turns, twists and emotions, it was Waterford who emerged winners. Their physical advantage and a scorching opening ten minutes had been decisive.

They tore into Roscommon from the opening whistle in a manner that suggested they’d have things their own way for the whole game. But the character of Tommy Beirne’s side, the sklll, the determination, the defiance and the unrelenting work ethic all came to the surface as the team staged an incredible comeback that just fell agonisingly short.

Roscommon had enough chances to at least bring the game to a replay. Waterford will point to a missed penalty late on but Roscommon can point to five fairly poor misses in the first half, three in the second half, at least four-goalscoring chances, some great saves by goalkeeper Rosie Landers and the width of a crossbar, from which they only required one point.

But it wasn’t to be. Sometimes you don’t get the rub of the green. And nothing can be taken away from the winners. They faltered and were out on their feet for stages of the second half but in Kaiesha Tobin at full-forward and Abbey Dunphy at corner-forward, they had two fine players. The team’s captain, Chloe Fennell, carried the ball brilliantly at wing-forward. So too did Hannah Power at number 13.

These players wreaked havoc early on, but Roscommon responded by moving Roisin Wynne back to full-back and Shannon Dowd out to centre-back, with both players managing to significantly curb the key attackers players’ influence.

At midfield, Mikaela McHugh and Heather Payne dominated. Payne covered every blade of grass in a superb performance. Aoife Gavin and Sinead Farrell never stopped trying in the half-forward line, with Farrell delivering a fine performance. Sarah Scally proved to be the goalpoacher supreme while Niamh Shanagher kept fighting to the end, and her perseverance was rewarded with a goal.

Underage games are notorious for the momentum swaying a number of times during a game. And this was certainly the case in this final. Waterford literally looked a foot taller, much stronger and resembled a team that were a couple of years older in the opening ten minutes. They were simply devastating. Hannah Power burst through the cover for a point in the opening minute. Fennell and Dunphy combined to set up Tobin for a well-taken goal on three minutes. Dunphy and Fennell followed up with points. After five minutes Roscommon were 1-3 to 0-0 down. It looked like it was going to be one of those days.

At the other end, when Roscommon finally managed to break into their opponent’s half, chance after chance was missed, all within decent point-scoring range. The game was 17 minutes old before Roscommon got their opening score, a free from Sinead Farrell. But by then, the team was beginning to halt Waterford; they just weren’t making it count on the scoreboard. But on 21 minutes, a real sucker punch was landed. Kaiesha Tobin, who demonstrated a great ability to kick frees off the ground, attempted a point from a placed ball but her effort dropped short. It appeared to come back off the crossbar with Hannah Power pouncing to make it 2-4 to 0-1. When Fennell added a point, with Tobin scoring on the run after Rebecca Cox had denied Dunphy a goal, the game looked beyond Roscommon as they were trailing by 11 points. But their efforts were rewarded on 27 minutes Payne fed McHugh who in turn passed to Scally. She slotted a great shot into the corner of the net. Ciara Corcoran then had a shot saved moments later before Scally bagged her second. Great work by Niamh Shanagher saw the full-forward make inroads near the endline before putting the ball across the goal for Scally to run onto and finish to the net. An Abbey Dunphy point just before the break made it 2-7 to 2-1. The strong Roscommon following had team for a breather after a remarkable first half. What was to come was every bit as gripping and entertaining.

Katie Duggan Sullivan opened the scoring for Waterford and for a few moments it appeared the Munster champions were going to dominate the third quarter like they did the first. But Roscommon quickly took hold of the game. Gavin and Farrell scored frees to make it 2-8 to 2-3 by the 40th minute. Payne was ruling the roost at midfield. The running was endless from every player. Waterford had the aid of a slight breeze in the second half but their forwards were seeing less of the ball. The possession stakes at times swung to somewhere in the margin of 70:30 in Roscommon’s favour.

Payne had a goal on goal saved by Landers on 41 minutes and minutes later Farrell saw an effort come back off the crossbar. Substitute Louise Brady cut the lead to four but in a dominant period, the team saw more chances missed. A few defenders were also guilty of a couple of misplaced passes. When the team played the ball short and generally held up possession they managed to work the ball up the field with great efficiency.

It seemed Waterford couldn’t believe their opponents still had so much energy to keep attacking. Indeed such was Roscommon’s domination, after scoring in the first minute of the second half, Waterford didn’t score again until the 63rd minute, which was a free from Tobin.

With supporters literally on the edge of their seats in the final quarter, the spirit of the Roscommon players never wilted. The tackles being put in by both sides were physical but the referee wisely applied common sense in what was a game of high intensity.

After a long delay in play while Rachel Gallagher received treatment for an injury, the corner-back being stretchered off the field, the match resumed with Roscommon four behind. But on 60 minutes, an effort from Sarah Scally dropped short. The goalkeeper failed to deal with it and Shanagher pounced to force the ball over the line and set up a grandstand finish, with almost eight minutes of injury time to be played.

Tobin slotted over a free on 63 minutes and following a foul on substitute Annie Fitzgerald two minutes later, Waterford were awarded a penalty. But in what almost predictable for the evening that was in it, there was more drama. Tobin’s well-struck effort rebounded back off the butt of the post. Roscommon still had a chance. After trying to force a few goals earlier in the half instead of perhaps taking their points, Sinead Farrell opted to fire over to make it a one-point game on 66 minutes. There was still two minutes to level matters. But try as they might, Roscommon couldn’t get that all-important score.

The final whistle sounded to huge cheers from the Waterford players. Roscommon players fell to the ground. Heartbroken, distraught and exhausted, they had given it everything. In what was as good an All-Ireland final as one could expect to see, it was of little consolation to the Roscommon players that they were a credit to their clubs and county in every sense of the word.


WATERFORD: R. Landers; B. Hogan, E. Gildea, E. Curran; A. Dalton, M. K. Curran, M. Ryan; H. Power (St. Pats), S. Fitzgerald; C. Fennell (0-2, capt), K. Duggan Sullivan (0-1), K. Lynch; H. Power (1-1), K. Tobin (1-3, 2 frees), A. Dunphy (0-2). Subs: K. Corbett Barry for Fitzgerald (38 mins), L. Maher for Power (57 mins).


ROSCOMMON: R. Cox (capt); R. Gallagher, S. Dowd, A. Curley; C. O’Dowd, R. Wynne, E. McNally; M. McHugh, H. Payne; A. Gavin (0-1, a free), S. Farrell (0-3, 2 frees), C. Corcoran; S. Scally (2-0), N. Shanagher (1-0), N. Fleming. Subs: A. Reilly for Fleming (36 mins), E. McDermott for Corcoran (38 mins), L. Brady (0-1) for O’Dowd (40 mins), S. Hoare for Gallagher (54 mins, inj).

Ladies All-Ireland U-16 B Football Championship Final

Michael O’Brien at MacDonagh Park, Nenagh

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