A windy McCann Park greeted Longford and Kildare on Sunday last in Portarlington for the Leinster Ladies U-16 ‘B’ Football Championship decider. Longford came out on top by a comfortable margin of fourteen points in the end after a fine performance from Michael Mulvey’s charges.
Leinster Ladies U-16 ‘B’ Football Championships: 6-10 2-8
Both teams started brightly with Longford attacking right from the off but the Kildare full back Ciara Conaty was sweeping up every loose ball that came her way. The first score came just after four minutes when Longford forward and player of the match Michelle Farrell burst through the Kildare defence and rattled the back of the net.
Longford’s long kick-out was beginning to cause problems and it was now evident that the wind would play a big part in the match. Kildare began some attacking of their own and corner forward Mikaela McKenna was starting to cause problems but Longford corner back Ellie Collum was well able for McKenna and consistently broke down attack after attack.
Kildare got off the mark on ten minutes when a free from full forward Ellen Dowling caused problems for the Longford keeper Shannon Woods and ended up in the back of the net to leave the teams at a goal a piece.
Longford immediately responded with a point from corner forward Laura Healy and the intensity really began to increase in the game when Kildare got a point from Triona Duggan moments later.
Longford got their second goal on fifteen minutes when left half forward Emer Heaney was left unmarked and calmly put the ball past Kildare keeper Becky McGurk.
Just two minutes later Longford had another goal chance but a last gasp interception from Kildare’s Grainne Lyons saved them from an almost certain goal. Kildare then cleared the ball and it fell to centre half forward Michaela Nolan who burst through the heart of the Longford backline but up step full back Leanne Keegan who produced a brave block to stop the shot.
Only seconds later Keegan was called upon and once again she put her body on the line to stop the shot of Kildare forward Aoife Nolan. Laura Healy got her second point of the day on twenty-four minutes when she spun off her Kildare marker Tara Hallinan and slotted over a point with the left foot from a difficult angle.
Then began a spell of concessive turnovers for both teams. The Longford midfielders, consisting of captain Aisling Reynolds and Claire Farrell, both worked ferociously up and down the pitch but as did the Kildare duo of Niamh Tuohy and captain Eadaoin Connolly. This added to the spectacle and the crowd really began to get behind both teams.
Longford’s third goal came from full forward Keri Harmon after a long ball kicked in bounced over the Kildare backline where Harmon was waiting to pounce. Seconds later she got her second when a long shot from Michelle Farrell ricocheted off the post and found its way into the arms of Harmon who slotted it into the corner of the goal.
Michelle Farrell then again got a score with a long range effort that just got over thanks to help from the crossbar leaving the score at half time 3-05 to 1-03 in favour of Longford.
Longford knew what to expect from Kildare in the second half and just that is what they got. Longford opened the scoring with a point from a free by Emer Heaney but Kildare dominated the opening ten minutes of the second half with Shannon Doherty running riot for them as she scored two consecutive points from play.
The wind was once again playing its part and the Longford kick-outs weren’t going further then their own 45’ line. Doherty for Kildare was wreaking havoc and Longford couldn’t keep up with her pace and she was fouled just on the twenty metre line and the resulting free kick was converted by Ellen Dowling to reduce the gap to seven.
Leanne Keegan for the third time in the match then pulled off a magnificent block to deny Michaela McKenna a score. Keegan came off the worst from it but got back to her feet within a couple of minutes.
Kildare were piling on the pressure as wave after wave of attack came but the Longford girls stood strong and withheld. Keri Harmon got her hat-trick of goals forty-three minute to make the score 5-6 to 1-6.
From here on it was all Longford as they went on to score a further 1-4 with further points coming from Michelle Farrell, Aoife Darcy and Emer Heaney and with Kildare only getting a consolation goal and two more points from play while Longford ran out deserving winners on the day.
LONGFORD: Shannon Woods (Clonguish), Ellie Collum (St. Helen’s), Leanne Keegan (Mostrim), Aisling Cosgrove (Longford Slashers), Nikita Cassidy (Mostrim), Mairead Victory (Mostrim), Aedeen Mimnagh (Dromard), Claire Farrell (Longford Slashers), Aisling Reynolds (Capt, Ballymore), Aoife Darcy (Clonguish), Michelle Farrell (Colmcille), Emer Heaney (Ballymore), Rachel Cheevers (Mostrim), Keri Harmon (Slashers), Laura Healy (Clonguish).
Subs used:- Emma Farrelly (St. Helen’s), Mandy Cassidy (St. Helen’s), Fiona Beirne (Killoe), Katy Harmon (Longford Slashers), Ciri Donnelly (St. Helen’s).
KILDARE: Becky McGurk, Grainne Lyons, Ciara Conaty, Tara Hallinan, Sharon O’Connor, Briana Hoban, Brid Farrell, Niamh Tuohy, Eadaoin Connolly, Aoife Nolan, Mikaela Nolan, Triona Nolan, Danielle Clerkin, Ellen Dowling, Mikaela McKenna.
Subs used:- Danielle Clerkin, Aine Conway, Lynsey Flanagan, Chelsea Crowe, Maeve Walsh.
REFEREE: Martin Carty (Offaly).