The Blacks are final bound! Meath LGFA Junior A Football Championship final that is. Walterstown disposed of Clann na nGael at the penultimate stage in Simonstown on Saturday evening and march on to face Moynalvey in the decider in two weeks time.
Kepak Meath LGFA Junior A Football Championship Semi Final
Clann na nGael: 0-12
They had five points to spare over their counterparts from Athboy and after both an impressive and a battling performance, were fully deserving of the victory and a place in the decider.
The Blacks showed two changes to team from their quarter final meeting with Moylagh the week previous. Dual star Isabel O’Connor returned to the middle of the field and gave an absolute stunning performance, while county minor star Sarah-Jane Lyons also returned to the starting XV.
In addition to O’Connor’s top notch showing in the middle of the field, the Blacks’ two corner backs, Rosie O’Neill and Antonia Brady were in inspiring form, along with Zoe Harte, while in attack Lisa O’Neill was on song and bagged herself 1-5 over the course of the 60 plus minutes.
In all though Walterstown’s cohesiveness as a unit shone through in what physical and tough encounter in Simonstown.
Joey Farrelly’s charges took time to settle in to this semi final fixture and it was Clann na nGael who started the bright but in an attacking and in a defensive sense. They registered the game’s opening two scores courtesy of the impressive Louise O’Connor and Tessa Fleming.
Walterstown got off the mark in the seventh minute when Lisa O’Neill halved the deficit when she send over a free. At the midway point of the half she levelled up proceedings, once again from a free, after Ella Farrelly was impeded.
As the old saying goes, goals win game and the three put on the board by Walterstown proved crucial to them advancing to the final. The first of the three came in the 16th minute and actually came from the kick out after O’Neill’s free that restored parity. Jennifer Lynch rose highest and claimed possession from the kick out and offloaded it quickly to Kate McCarthy. Her quick pass to Sarah-Jane Lyons worked a treat as the latter stylishly planted the ball in the net to give her side a 1-2 to 0-2 advantage. And it was an advantage that the Blacks never let go of thereafter.
Walterstown, however, were dealt a blow soon after when Niamh McGuinness Óg, on one of her trademark penetrating runs down the wing, pulled up with a nasty hamstring injury. She was replaced by Edel O’Leary and her experience proved invaluable in the heat of championship semi final action.
Clann na nGael did manage to reduce the deficit thanks to a point from O’Connor but it was cancelled out by one down the other end from wing forward Lucy Reynolds. O’Neill popped over a free in the 28th minute and Walterstown led 1-4 to 0-3.
And then came goal number two and what an effort it was. Isabel O’Connor provided a super pass for Leticia Sheridan-Seery and her rasping shot burst passed Niamh Collins in the Clann na nGael goal and left the Blacks 2-4 to 0-4 to the good as the opening half drew to a close.
The Athboy outfit did manage to pull one back before the break but Walterstown led by five (2-4 to 0-5) at the interlude.
Clann na nGael were in need of a good start to the second half if they were to save their championship hopes, but it was Walterstown who picked up where they left off in the first. A fantastic point from Lisa O’Neill opened their second half account before Edel O’Leary turned over possession in defence before finding Lucy Reynolds and the latter split the posts to push Walterstown 2-6 to 0-5 ahead.
A converted free from Blathnaid Keogh kept Clann na nGael somewhat in touch but two minutes later the lights effectively went out for them.
When Kate McCarthy was fouled, Lisa O’Neill, as always, stepped forward to take the free kick from 30 metres out. Her strike deceived both the Clann na nGael defenders and ‘keeper and floated in to the net and meant Walterstown held a nine point lead just nine minutes in to the second half.
Full credit to Clann na nGael as they came full throttle at the Blacks thereafter, while Mollie Browne was forced to sit out ten minutes having picked up a yellow card just before the end of the third quarter.
The girls from Athboy hit five point without response to reduce the deficit to four but Walterstown settled after the purple patch and a point from Sarah-Jane Lyons in the 53rd minute steadied the proverbial ship.
A great pass from substitute Julie Donnellan was the catalyst for the Blacks’ next score. That pass found Sheridan-Seery, who off loaded to Lisa O’Neill and she tapped the ball over to leave Walterstown 3-8 to 0-11 ahead.
With seven minutes of injury time Clann na nGael pushed hard but Walterstown were not for breaking down. Indeed the Blacks’ rearguard was in defiant mood. They weathered the storm and only conceded a point from a free and grabbed their place in the final against Moynalvey on Sunday week in Simonstown.
SCORERS: Walterstown – Lisa O’Neill 1-5 (3f), Sarah-Jane Lyons 1-1, Leticia Sheridan-Seery 1-0, Lucy Reynolds 0-2.
Clann na nGael – Louise O’Connor 0-7 (5f), Holly Macken 0-2, Tessa Fleming 0-1, Blathnaid Keogh 0-1 (1f), Ali Sherlock 0-1.
WALTERSTOWN: Méabh McCarrick; Antonia Brady, Sophia Gillooly, Rosie O’Neill; Niamh McGuinness ÓG, Mollie Browne, Zoe Harte; Isabel O’Connor, Ella Farrelly; Leticia Sheridan-Seery, Sarah-Jane Lyons, Lucy Reynolds; Jennifer Lynch, Kate McCarthy, Lisa O’Neill. Subs: Edel O’Leary replaced Niamh McGuinness ÓG 19 mins, Julie Donnellan replaced J Lynch 50 mins, Abbie Farrelly replaced SJ Lyons 62 mins, Niamh McGuinness replaced L Sheridan-Seery 62 mins, Áine Downes replaced Lisa O’Neill 64 mins.
CLANN NA nGAEL: Niamh Collins; Áine Castles, Keelan O’Connor, Niamh Brogan; Holly Macken, Shauna Tully, Libby Kelly; Cailin McDonagh, Ali Sherlock; Ella Thompson, Blathnaid Keogh, Laura Gilsenan; Tessa Fleming, Louise O’Connor, Ella O’Toole.
REFEREE: Tom Lorton.