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2024 TG4 All-Ireland Finals tickets

Wicklow ladies score a comprehensive victory

Ladies score comprehensive victory

Wicklow 5-7 Westmeath 2-4

The Wicklow ladies football team started the year on a winning
note with an impressive victory over Westmeath in Rochfortbridge
on Sunday. Having dropped two points to Offaly in the first
round of the Suzuki National League in November, Wicklow
knew that only a win would be of any use, and this performance
was exactly what was needed. Westmeath were something of
an unknown quantity, having been regraded to junior after
shipping some heavy defeats last year. However, any nerves
in the Wicklow side were soon banished as it was clear from
the throw in that Westmeath could not cope with Wicklow’s
strong direct running. The garden county led from start
to finish, and although they took the foot off the pedal
in the second half the result was never in doubt.

From the throw in Debbie Green played a long ball into the
full forward line, where good interplay between Anne McGillicuddy
and Jean Duffy put Éadaoine Lenihan through on goal. With
only the keeper to beat she hit the base of the post, but
made no mistake with the rebound – firing past the stranded
goalkeeper. She followed this up moments later with a point,
and the next few minutes were all Wicklow pressure without
yielding a score. Westmeath showed some brief sprit with
a well taken point from their impressive wing forward Laura
Halligan, but that was to be their only score of the half.
Wicklow were on top in every sector of the field. A confident
Nikki Donahue foray out of corner back set up McGillicuddy,
and when her pile driver was tipped onto the bar Duffy was
on hand to slot over the rebound. Wicklow were cruising,
and two further points from McGillicuddy were followed by
a Deirdre O’Riordain goal after she found herself in acres
of space in the box. Wicklow’s two-man full forward line
strategy was paying dividends, with O’Riordain free to ramble
and pick up free ball all over the field. As the half drew
to a close she followed her own long ball in past the 21,
picked up the return pass and fisted over the top to Leah
Horan. The Eire Óg player finished calmly from a tight angle.
Westmeath didn’t have many scoring chances in the half,
and those which did come their way were wasted. Late in
the half Wicklow full back Aisling O’hAnnaidh was harshly
booked for an innocuous challenge on the 21, but the resultant
free was blazed wide, leaving the half time score 3-5 to
0-1 in Wicklow’s favour.

Westmeath played better in the second half; with the wind
attheir backs they took advantage of Wicklow’s leniency
to rack up a score of 2-3. However, a comeback was never
on the cards, as any time they seemed to be edging back
into it Wicklow worked the ball up the field for an answering
score. Eimear Miley in the Wicklow goal had had little to
do but pulled off a fantastic save when called upon, tipping
a fierce drive from full forward Celeste Dermody onto the
bar. The highlight of the match was a sweeping move late
in the half. Replacement goalkeeper Tracey Doyle made a
fine save and cleared the ball to O’hAnnaidh. She found
Eithne Byrne on the wing, who in turn played a fine ball
to the roaming O’Riordain on the Westmeath 45. The Kilbride
girl carried the ball through the defence before flicking
it into McGillicuddy on the edge of the square. The point
was on, but she saw Leah Horan lurking on the left and put
her through with a clever pass. Continuing the quality of
the move, Horan confidently lobbed the keeper for a fantastic
score. A well deserved win was achieved with a weakened
side, giving great optimism for the rest of the league campaign.
Debutantes Nikki Donahue and Tracey Doyle gave assured performances,
and despite the winter lay off the team looked sharp and
strong.

Team: Emer Miley (Blessington) (1-0), Mide Ni Shuilleabhain
(Eire Óg), Aisling O’hAnnaidh (Bray Emmets), Nicola Donahue
(Kilbride), Lisa Brady (Bray Emmets), Orla Donahue (Kilbride),
Aoife Heffernan (Bray Emmets), Debbie Green (Valleymount),
Eithne Byrne (Kilcoole), Liz Cullen (Clara), Éadaoine Lenihan
(Bray Emmets) (1-3), Jean Duffy (Kilbride) (0-2), Leah Horan
(Eire Óg) (2-0), Anne McGillicuddy (An Tochar) (0-2), Deirdre
O’Riordain (Kilbride) (1-0). Sub: Tracey Doyle (Kilbride)
for E. Miley.

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