Ladies National Football League Division 2 Final
by Thomas Keane
Almost thirty years ago a glorious chapter in the history of Waterford Ladies Football began when Michael Ryan’s all conquering side beat Kerry to win a first Munster Senior Ladies Football Final for the Déise County in 1991. Over the following decade numerous Munster and National League titles followed for the side coached by the Ballymacarbry man as did five All-Ireland Final titles between 1991 and 1998.
On Sunday last the current Waterford senior Ladies Football team recorded another big win over Kerry in major final when Ciaran Curran’s side had an eight-point margin to spare at the end of the hour in this year’s Division Two National League Final at Parnell Park in Dublin.
While there is no guarantee that the current panel of players will ever achieve what the great team of the 90’s achieved mostly because of the greater number of players competing at the top there were signs to be seen in this game to suggest that further honours could come these players way in the coming years.
Waterford went in front inside the opening minute of the game starting as Maria Delahunty pointed after she was picked out by Aileen Wall and on three minutes the Waterford attack gave Kerry a taste of what was to come for the remainder of the half as Roisin Tobin and Katie Murray combined to set up hat-trick here from their semi-final win over Cavan Michelle Ryan for the Déise sides first green flag of the afternoon.
The industrious Louise Ni Mhuircheartaigh pointed at the other end before Chloe Fennell pointed for Waterford before Kelly Ann Hogan scored a fine goal where she done much of the hard work herself on seven minutes to give Waterford a seven-point lead.
Hannah O’Donoghue and Maria Delahunty swapped scores before Miriam O’Keefe and Amanda Brosnan hit points for the side from the Kingdom but it was not enough to see them end the first quarter trailing 2-3 to 0-4.
Waterford over the next six minutes played some of their best football in this game. Róisín Tobin and Maria Delahunty slotted points before Róisín Tobin hit her second of the game and it was Maria Delahunty who scored next a decisive third goal for Waterford after Aileen Wall had done some good work in the build up, and when Katie Murray followed up with a point on 22 minutes Waterford had a 3-7 to 0-4 lead.
Kerry throughout the league this year made changes for the second half but they were forced to make changes before the break here. After Miriam O’Keeffe pointed for Kerry with six minutes of the first half remaining, the Kerry selectors sent on Sophie Lynch for Sarah Murphy in defence and also replaced goalkeeper Robyn White with Kayleigh Cronin after the keeper picked up a hamstring injury.
Kerry did come more into the game after this. Michelle Ryan pointed with five minutes to go and when the ball went up the other end the crossbar came to Waterford’s rescue from a Louise Ni Mhuircheartaigh effort and when the ball fell back to her Caoimhe McGrath took the ball off the line and cleared the danger.
Louise Ni Mhuircheartaigh did point with Kerry’s next attack from a free but within seconds Waterford had the ball in the Kerry net for a fourth time when Aileen Wall played in Eimear Fennell who was unmarked in front of the Kerry goal.
Louise Ni Mhuircheartaigh and Sarah Houlihan added late first half scores for the side from the Kingdom but it was not enough to stop them turning around trailing Ciaran Curran’s side 4-8 to 0-8. Waterford goalkeeper Rosie Landers made an excellent save from Hannah O’Donoghue and when Katie Murray and Maria Delahunty followed up with points things were looking extremely good for Waterford. But Kerry did make
Waterford work hard for this win. Sarah Houlihan and Eimear Fennell swapped points before Hannah O’Donoghue and Aileen Wall did likewise. Karen McGrath took an effort from Hannah O’Donoghue off the Waterford goal line on 41 minutes which was followed with white flags from Louise Ni Mhuircheartaigh and Sarah Houlihan on 44 minutes. Waterford’s fifth goal came at the three quarter way mark in this game when Eimear Fennell crashed the size 4 off the crossbar with Kelly Cronin beating it fell nicely to Aileen Wall who slotted home from just inside the small box to give Waterford a 5-12 to 0-12 lead. Fiadhna Tagney and Sarah Houlihan from a free pulled points back for Kerry before substitute Aisling Mullaney hit Waterford’s last score of the game on 51 minutes.
Kerry finished strong and while they scored a goal on 51 minutes when Lorraine Scanlon won a contest against Rosie Landers and Louise Ni Mhuircheartaigh and Sarah Houlihan hit further minor scores for Kerry, Waterford held on for an excellent win and will now compete in Division one of next year’s league.
Waterford: Rosie Landers; Rebecca Casey, Caoimhe McGrath, Megan Dunford; Róisín Tobin, Karen McGrath, Kate McGrath; Michelle Ryan, Kelly Ann Hogan; Emma Murray, Katie Murray, Maria Delahunty; Eimear Fennell, Chloe Fennell, Aileen Wall.
Subs: Aisling Mullaney for Megan Dunford (36), Shauna Dunphy for Eimear Fennell (60), Caragh McCarthy for Róisín Tobin (63).
Scorers: M Delahunty 1-04 (0-01f), M Ryan, E Fennell, A Wall 1-01 each, KA Hogan 1-00, R Tobin, K Murray 0-02 each, C Fennell, A Mullaney 0-01 each.
Kerry: Robyn White; Tara Breen, Aislinn Desmond, Ciara O’Brien; Sarah Murphy, Aisling O’Connell, Anna Galvin; Lorraine Scanlon, Amanda Brosnan; Ciara Murphy, Hannah O’Donoghue, Niamh Carmody; Sarah Houlihan, Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh, Miriam O’Keeffe.
Subs: Kayleigh Cronin for Robyn White (26), Sophie Lynch for Sarah Murphy (26), Fiafhna Tangney for Miriam O’Keeffe (34), Emma Dineen for Anna Galvin (45), Eilis Lynch for Aislinn Desmond (60).
Referee: Gus Chapman (Sligo).