O’Dwyers crowned champions after victory in all-Fingal finalDublin People 08 Sep 2022
GO AHEAD DUBLIN JUNIOR ‘A’ LADIES FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL
O’DWYERS 2-9 RAHENY 2-6
By Daire Walsh
Goals in either half from Katie McCabe and Shannon Richardson were crucial at Lawless Park yesterday evening as O’Dwyers secured the Go Ahead Dublin Junior ‘A’ Ladies Football Championship title at the expense of Raheny.
Despite initially taking their time to settle into the contest, O’Dwyers eventually got to grips with the task at hand and never looked back after hitting the front in the second-quarter.
The aforementioned duo of McCabe and Richardson registered a combined haul of 2-5, while Alana Kelly also chipped in with three pivotal points.
To their credit, Raheny persevered with their challenge and a second goal courtesy of Cliodhna McHugh sparked a mini revival in the closing moments.
Yet their opponents had that bit extra in reserve to ultimately claim the silverware on offer.
Both of these sides had met at the beginning of the competition on August 10 when O’Dwyers edged a thrilling Group A encounter at St Anne’s Park on a score of 3-13 to 3-11.
The Balbriggan side went on to earn further victories at the expense of Scoil Ui Chonaill and St Peregrine’s, before getting the better of 2021 runners-up Clontarf ‘B’ in last week’s semi-final.
Raheny recovered from that opening day defeat at the hands of O’Dwyers by recording convincing wins over Peregrine’s (6-9 to 2-14) and Scoil Ui Chonaill (9-13 to 3-10).
This put them face-to-face with Group B winners Templeogue Synge Street in the penultimate round at Dolphin Park, where the northsiders pulled out all the stops to secure a 1-12 to 1-10 triumph.
Buoyed by this success, Raheny raced into a five-point lead with as many minutes gone on the clock in this showpiece.
There was less than 30 seconds played when Anna Murphy gathered a high delivery and bore down on the O’Dwyers goal.
Niamh Kirby produced a fine save from the corner-forward, but Murphy quickly kicked the ball across the square, where McHugh was on hand to scramble home from close-range.
This was an ideal opening for Raheny and it was made even better when Carla Fitzsimons (free) and Ciara McDunphy knocked over points in quick succession.
The O’Dwyers faithful were still waiting for their side to make an attacking impact, but they raised a cheer when McCabe converted a ninth-minute free.
Kelly also bagged a dead-ball score from a distance of 35 metres as O’Dwyers started to flex their muscles inside the Raheny half.
Although they weren’t always accurate in front of the posts, a powerful blitz towards the end of the opening period propelled them into the driving seat.
After getting her hands to Erica Byrne’s ’45’ on 23 minutes, McCabe turned smartly and drilled an unstoppable strike to the opposition net.
This was the spark that O’Dwyers were looking for and they subsequently added to this major with unanswered points via the boots of Kelly, Richardson and McCabe.
Having trailed for the vast majority of the action up until that juncture, they suddenly found themselves 1-5 to 1-2 in front at the interval.
Raheny remained in contention for top honours, but the concession of early second half points to Elsa Kearney and Kelly (free) did present them with an uphill task.
Following traded scores between Chloe Monahan and Richardson, O’Dwyers lost defender Eimear Joyce to the sin-bin and were hit with an additional set-back on 44 minutes.
From a tight right-hand angle, a speculative Richardson effort deceived Chanice Dolan and wound up in the back of the net.
Reduced to 14 players for a lengthy period and facing into an eight-point deficit (2-8 to 1-3), the signs were becoming increasingly ominous for Raheny.
However, McHugh sparked them back into life with an outstanding three-point finish at the end of a fast-paced move in the 45th-minute. In a similar vein to McCabe’s goal for O’Dwyers, this offered Raheny fresh impetus.
Despite their numerical deficiency, the gap was narrowed as a result of McHugh and Fitzsimons splitting the uprights in consecutive fashion.
Either side of Joyce’s return to the fray, O’Dwyers lost Lara Marry and Carla Munson to yellow and red cards respectively.
This left O’Dwyers with just 13 players for much of a tense finale – played in front of a healthy crowd at the Swords venue – and a pointed free from Dublin senior footballer Siobhan Woods at the end of normal time significantly ramped up the pressure on their defence.
Woods was to pick up a yellow card of her own, though, moments before Marry resumed her on-field duties.
Richardson had broken forward to kick an outstanding point in advance of these incidents and that was enough to get O’Dwyers over the line in the end.
The Balbriggan women now progress to the quarter-final stages of the Leinster Junior Football Championship on October 22, where their opponents will be the winners of an earlier round affair featuring the Carlow and Wexford champions.
Given St Jude’s went on to be crowned both provincial and All-Ireland winners following their junior county success in 2021, O’Dwyers will feel there is more to come from them in the current season.
Scorers – O’Dwyers: Shannon Richardson 1-3, Katie McCabe 1-2 (0-1f), Alana Kelly 0-3 (2f), Elsa Kearney 0-1. Raheny: Cliodhna McHugh 2-1, Carla Fitzsimons 0-2 (1f), Siobhan Woods (f), Chloe Monahan, Ciara McDunphy 0-1 each.
O’DWYERS: Niamh Kirby; Aoife Breathnach, Lara Marry, Izzy McClean; Amy Gibbons, Aoife Curran, Holly O’Rourke; Erica Byrne, Elsa Kearney; Chloe Johnston, Alana Kelly, Katie McCabe; Jane Kehoe, Shannon Richardson, Leah Brady. Subs: Carla Munson for Brady (34).
RAHENY: Chanice Dolan; Aideen Filan, Bronagh Fagan, Jane O’Dwyer; Eimear Joyce, Laura O’Hare, Claire Fitzgerald; Aoibhin McCarthy, Siobhan Woods; Chloe Monahan, Carla Fitzsimons, Ciara McDunphy; Rosie Maguire, Cliodhna McHugh, Anna Murphy. Subs: Orlaith Walsh for Murphy (30+3), Aisling Brassil for Filan (57).
Referee: Paul Meaney (Na Fianna).