LGFA President Mícheál Naughton presenting the player of the match award in the All-Ireland Minor 'B' final to Longford midfielder Sián Gallagher Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
In what was a brilliant advertisement for ladies football, Longford let the All-Ireland Minor ‘B’ Championship title slip from their grasp in a truly amazing match at the Donaghmore Ashbourne GAA grounds, Co Meath on Wednesday evening.
Monaghan . . . 7-16 Longford . . . 2-19 (AET)
Full-time score in normal time: Longford 2-15 Monaghan 4-9
Powered by outstanding midfielder and player of the match award winner Sian Gallagher who scored a couple of cracking goals, Longford were looking good when they held what appeared to be a comfortable seven points lead midway through the second half, 2-12 to 2-5.
It was a familiar scenario for Monaghan who came storming back to beat Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final and it was the same story on this occasion as they somehow managed to salvage the situation.
Longford faded in the final quarter (conceding 2-4) as gritty Monaghan, down to 14 players following a sin bin for Niamh Flanagan in the 48th minute, gradually closed the gap.
When substitute Laura Grimes struck to score the fourth goal for the Ulster champions in the 57th minute the sides were remarkably on level terms in this thrilling roller coaster.
While Monaghan then took the lead when full-forward Eabha Sherry fired over a free, Longford kept their All-Ireland hopes alive when Kate Shannon converted a free for the equalising score in the second minute of stoppage time, 2-15 to 4-9.
Key players Sarah Tierney (Monaghan) and Ella O’Reilly (Longford) received yellow cards in the frantic finish but returned to the so exciting action during the course of extra-time after serving the ten minutes in the sin-bin.
Monaghan were completely dominant during the additional period in registering a further three goals to settle the issue, a brace from influential substitute Ulrika McMahon.
Monaghan utilised their stronger bench to excellent effect to outscore Longford 3-7 to 0-4 in extra-time and it was hard to believe that the wide margin of 12 points separated the sides in the end.
While the County U-18 girls suffered the bitter disappointment of such an agonising defeat when they should have won the game in normal time, it was a fantastic achievement to get so far and the future is certainly bright for Longford ladies football.
LONGFORD: Louise Tierney (Dromard); Leah Shannon (Carrickedmond), Grace Kenny (Longford Slashers), Rachel Fallon (Ardagh St Brigid’s); Funmi Talabi (Mostrim), Caoimhe McCormack (captain, Carrickedmond), Ella Duggan (Clonguish); Ella O’Reilly (Mullinalaghta, 0-1), Sian Gallagher (Ardagh St Brigid’s, 2-1); Megan Glennon (Clonguish, 0-5, one free), Kate McEntire (Dromard), Sarah Macken (Colmcille, 0-1); Kate Shannon (Longford Slashers, 0-8, six frees), Elle Lynn (Mostrim), Anna Hayden (Ardagh St. Brigid’s, 0-1).
Subs:- Kate O’Connor (Dromard) for R Fallon (19 mins); Siobhan Egan (Carrickedmond, 0-1) for E Lynn (injured, 37 mins); Mia Shannon (Killoe, 0-1) for S Macken (45 mins); Tessa Tiernan (Grattans) for A Hayden (51 mins).
Subs used in extra-time:- R Fallon for E O’Reilly (sin bin); Tamara Cosgrove (Dromard), Ciara Heaney (Ballymore) and Caoilainn Morgan (Longford Slashers).
Ella O’Reilly back on in the 10th minute of extra-time.
MONAGHAN: Orna Kelly; Roisin Lennon, Tara Renaghan, Tara McArdle; Abi Carolan, Leah Connolly, Hannah Haughey; KerrieAnne Walsh (0-1), Laura McGeown; Holly McQuaid (0-3), Niamh Flanagan (0-1), Sarah Tierney (2-1); Shannon Murphy (0-1), Eabha Sherry (1-4, two frees), Aine McQuaid (1-2).
Subs:- Laura Grimes (1-1) for L Connolly (44 mins); Megan Byrne for H Haughey (45 mins).
Subs used in extra-time:- Ulrika McMahon (2-2) for S Tierney (sin bin); Bronagh McPhillips, Grace Hanratty and Aoife Maguire.
Sarah Tierney back on at half-time in extra-time.
Referee: Lorraine O’Sullivan (Donegal).
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