Down v Westmeath
Sunday 16 February – Tesco HomeGrown NFL Div.2 Rd.3
Down 2-10 Westmeath 5-13
Down Ladies footballers had a big ask against an in-form Westmeath in Mayobridge at the weekend and it was the Midlanders who came out victors writes Barry McConville
Down held their own in the first half and although the final score would suggest Down were well beaten. It looked so different in the first half. Sinead Brannigan was instrumental in keeping Down in the game when Westmeath were awarded a penalty. This appeared like the worst possible start for Down. However, Brannigan held her nerve, saved the penalty shot, then saved the rebound and finally pushed a third shot on goal in the mêlée in the square, over the bar and Westmeath salvaged a point from the penalty.
Down were soon back in shape and showed some great football prowess. When Orla Boyle was fouled in the back line, a free was quickly taken and Clara Fitzpatrick found Lauren Cunningham who spotted Orla Fegan on a run through the Westmeath backs. Fegan knew exactly where she was going and buried the ball in the back of the net and Down looked to have the measure of Westmeath.
Well taken frees from Grainne McClean and Aileen Pyres and a good score from play from Pyres, all helped Down to stay within a score of Westmeath for the majority of the first half. However, at the end of the first half with over 5 minutes of time added on, Westmeath stepped it up a gear and scored another goal and 3 points before going in at the half.
Disaster from a Down perspective who were only 2 points down at the 30 minute mark and looked to be getting the majority of possession. It was the closing minutes though in time added on of the first half that did the damage.
Down made a few changes in the second half with Cara Cunningham, Hannah Murray and Megan Doherty making second half appearances. Down were finding the going difficult in the second half, with points from play from Lauren Cunningham, Kyla Trainor and Aileen Pyres, while late in the second half Pyres also got Down’s second goal. It was a case of too little too late for Down and the deficit was just too much for the home team, who battled to the last, but to no avail.
Down have played three of the strongest teams in the league in their first foray in Div 2 this year and they can hold their heads up high. There is no doubt the step up from Div.3 to Div.2 was always going to be a challenge for Down but it’s a challenge the Down girls are relishing and they most certainly look like a team with a lot more to give. Currently on a par with Cavan with both teams having won one game each, Cavan are going to be another difficult task for Down in a fortnight’s time.
Down will be going into the game as the underdogs while Cavan are the current Intermediate All-Ireland Champions and will be looking to cement their position in Div.2 with a win over Down. Cavan are no strangers to Down having met last year in the Ulster Semi-final where Down come out the victors, only to meet them again in the All-Ireland Semi-Final on Cavan’s home turf, Breffini Park. Cavan won on that occasion and then went on to win the All-Ireland. It’ll be an interesting encounter between the two Ulster sides, and could prove to be a crucial game come the end of the league campaign.
Cora Mc Kibbin
Niamh Mc Gowan
Grainne Mc Clean
Sinead Mac Namee
Claire O Neill
Manager: Mark Copeland
Coaches: Ryan McShane, Diane O’Hora, Loughlin Leneghan.
Selector: Kevin Leneghan
Physio: Niamh Canavan
1. Sarah Keegan – Tyrellspass
2. Aileen Martin – St Loman’s (Capt)
3. Lorraine Duncan – Garrycastle
4. Triona Durkin – Killbeggan Shamrocks
5.Kelly Boyce Jordon – Milltown
6.Aimee Giles – Coralstown/Kinnegad
7. Laura Brennan – Garrycastle
8. Ruth Kearney – Milltown
9. Maud Annie Foley – Coralstown/Kinnegad
10. Karen McDermott – Rochfortbridge
11. Ciara Blundell – St Loman’s
12 Johanna Maher – Tyrelllspass
13. Chloe Kelly – Clann Gaels
14. Fiona Leavy – Killucan
15. Karen Hegarty – Mullingar Shamrocks
16. Niamh Mulligan – Milltown
17. Nicola Judge – Rochfortbridge
18. Bronagh Beglan – Milltown
19. Rebecca Dunne – St Loman’s
21. Jenny Rogers – Milltown
22. Laura Kiernan – Milltown
23. Aimee Duncan – Garrycastle
24. Katie Somers – Milltown
25. Lauren Kennedy – Garrycastle
26. Catie Heslin – St Loman’s
27. Donna Kiernan – Coralstown/Kinnegad
28.Bridget Heslin – St Loman’s
29. Elaine Finn – Killucan
30. Fiona Coyle – Rochfortbridge
31. Joye Kearney – Milltown
32. Michaela Brady – Rochfortbridge
Management: Martin Flanagan, Mark Staunton, Jack Cooney
Team Liason Officer: Clare Brady
Team Physio: Derek Mitchell