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Wicklow get 2nd bite of the cherry

Wicklow ladies get 2nd bite of cherry

Wicklow 2-3 Louth 1-6

Wicklow ladies will have a second bite at the cherry, after they drew with Louth on Sunday last in Dr. Cullen Park, and although Louth’s Orlaith Kirk received the player of the match award, Wicklow’s Emer Miley run the Louth player a close second, Wicklow’s number one pulled off a number of excellent saves through out the game including a penalty save to keep the Garden county in contention to retain their title.
The sides were deadlocked on three occasions, and it never looked as if either side would open a substantial gap to win the game, the Wicklow side put in one of their better performances this season, after suffering a heavy defeat to the Wee county only seven days ago in the TG4 all Ireland series, the Wicklow side showed a greater hunger on Sunday last, even when they were reduced to fourteen players in the final quarter, with the Louth side going for the jugular the Wicklow ladies held out for a well deserved draw.
Louth were with out the influential Gillian McDonnell, McDonnell notched up three accurate points against Wicklow in the first round of the TG4 all Ireland championship.
This was a hard fought game, but a factor that must be of concern for both sets of mentors is how low the scoring was, Wicklow  notched up two goals and three points, two of those points coming from frees, with at least seven other efforts going wide, while the Louth forwards were off target on at least eight occasions, four of those in the final quarter when Wicklow were down to fourteen; had just one of those raised a white flag, the scales could have been tilted in Louths favour, however it was not to be and both sides must battle it out once again to decide whose name will be etched on the TG4 Leinster Junior championship cup.
Louths Rosanna Heaney was first to light up the electronic score board in Dr. Cullen Pk., when she tapped over her first free of the game, Caoilfhionn Deeney cancelled out Heaney’s score two minute later.
Full forward Geraldine Norton opened a two point gap in Wicklow’s favour when she fired the ball to the roof of Caoimhe Breen’s net, Caoilfhionn Deeney back in her favourite position of midfield followed up with two quick points  to open a four point gap (1-2 to 0-1) in Wicklow’s favour with nine minute remaining in the first period.
but the Wee county hit back with four points in as many minutes, one apiece from Sharon Callan, Catherine Page, Rosanna Heaney and Edel McKeon  to draw the sides level at the break (1-2 to 0-5).
As in the first half, Louth’s Rosanna Heaney were first to register a point early in the third  quarter to give them a one point lead, but for the next eleven minutes the sides were deadlocked, Wicklow called Monica Lynch and Lizzie Brophy off the bench to replace Norton and Shelley in the fourteenth minute, and a minute later Wicklow were thrown a life line when Referee Tony Lennon awarded Wicklow a penalty, the third of the game, the first in Wicklows favour, Laurie Ahern stepped up to dispatch the ball, low to Caoimhe Breen right to give the Garden County a two point lead (2-2 to 0-6), going into the final quarter.

Louth’s Orlaith Kirk received the Player of the match from Leinster President Sean McMullin. While Dublin had a convincing eleven point  win over Kildare in the TG4 Leinster senior final 5-8 to 0-12.
Wicklow scorers: Caoilfhionn Deeney 0-2f, Geraldine Norton 1-0, Amie Byrne 0-1, Laurie Ahern 1-0 (penalty).
Louth scorers: Orlaith Kirk 0-1, Sandra Lynch 0-1,Edel McKeon Sloane 0-1, Catherine Page 0-1, Laura O’Neill 1-0 (penalty),  Rosanna Heaney 0-2f.

Wicklow: Emer Miley (Blessington), Janet Miley (Valleymount), Caitriona McKeon (Capt) Kilbride), Aoife Heffernan (Bray Emmets),    Lorna Fuisciardi (Eire Og), Caitriona Byrne (AGB), Niamh Kelly (Eire Og), Aisling O’hAnnaidh (Bray Emmets), Caoilfhionn Deeney (Eire Og), Amie Byrne (An Tochar), Mikaela Shelly (Bray Emmets), Niamh Carroll(Blessington), Chrissie Shortt (An Tochar), (Baltinglass), Laurie Ahern (Eire Og).
Subs:   Lisa Brady (Bray Emmets) for Niamh Kelly, Monica Lynch (An Tochar) for Geraldine Norton, Lizzie Brophy (Valleymount) for Mikaela Shelley, Jill Heatley (Blessington) for Aisling O’hAnnaidh. Orla Redmond (St. Pats) for Laurie Ahern.
Louth: Caoimhe Breen, Emma Byrne, Sara Quinn, Ciara Rafferty, Edel McKeown Sloane ( Capt) , Grace Lynch, Ann Marie Lynch, Orlaith Kirk , Sandra Lynch, Niamh Reid , Catherine Page , Grainne Macken, Susan Byrne, Rosanna Heaney , Laura O’Neill,

Referee: Tony Lennon (Dublin).

Wicklow playing with a slight breeze were quickest out of the blocks, with Mikaela Shelley rattling the Louth cross bar in the first minute of the game, Geraldine Norton and Laurie Ahern tested the Louth keeper Caoimhe Breen in the fourth and seventh minutes respectively. Thirty seconds later the large group of Wicklow supporter gave a sigh of relief as Sandra Lynch fired her penalty kick to the right of Emer Mileys post.
Both sides battled hard in search of an opportunity to break the stalemate, with Wicklow’s half forward line of Amie Byrne, Mikaela Shelley and Niamh Carroll working as a unit to find a gap in the Louth defence, and in the eighteenth minute their hard work paid off, with corner forward Laurie Ahern finding Shelley in space, Shelley quickly off loaded to Every thing was looking very rosy in the Garden after Emer Miley denied Louth’s Rosanna Heaney a certain goal from the penalty spot in the twenty third minute, Lisa Brady was called into the fray, to add her vast experience to the Wicklow back line, but as Brady stepped on to the pitch, Niamh Carroll stepped off, after she was yellow carded and dispatched to the sin-bin, Wicklow with a two point lead were now down to fourteen players with thirteen minute of normal time remaining on the clock.
The big question among the Wicklow supporters was, how long could they hold on to their narrow lead, and unfortunately for Wicklow the answer came two minute later when the referee awarded Louth their third penalty of the match, and although Miley dived in the right direction she was unable to stop Laura O’Neill’s accurate spot kick from nestling in the corner of the Wicklow net.
Probably Wicklow most important score came from the boot of Amie Byrne in the twenty first minute, the An Tochar club player pointing to draw the sides level for the last time. In fairness to Louth they had five golden chances to seal victory in the final six minutes, but the football Gods were wearing the Wicklow colours this weekend, and the Wicklow ladies survive to battle it out with Louth for the Leinster title another day, which has to be decided. Log onto www.wicklowladiesfootball.com for further details.

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