Kildare Ladies Senior League Div3 Round 5:
By Robert Cox
The Kilcock ladies senior team surrendered their unbeaten run in division three of the league to a more physical and determined Suncroft side on Tuesday night last, 8th May at Kilcock GAA. Having already defeated Kilcullen, Na Fianna and Clane, Kilcock manager Shane Stone and his team knew that this would be their toughest test to date and the visitors from the Curragh didn’t disappoint in that regard. The home side had to do plan without their regular full back Linda Byrne, who suffered a broken finger in last week’s encounter with Clane and without midfielder Aisling O’Connor due to illness but they did welcome back captain Shona Cagney and Caoimhe Fagan fresh from her success with the county minors at the weekend in which she picked up a Leinster medal against Laois. Stone never has the luxury of fielding the same starting fifteen two weeks in a row and again this week he had to re-shuffle the pack somewhat, with young Hayley White drafted in at corner back for her first competitive senior start.
When the game got underway, it was quite obvious from the start that it was going to be a fast, physical game, though conditions underfoot were not ideal and it did take both sides some time to realise that the ball was not going to bounce on the muddy surface. But credit to Kilcock, it was only seven days previous that the same pitch fell foul to the weather as this sides fixture v Robert Emmets was postponed. The home side were faster out of the blocks and when Grace White rattled the back of the net after only five minutes the signs looked ominous for Suncroft. White had been played through one on one by Louise Keane who had caught a long ball in and quickly laid the ball off to the on running wing forward, who calmly slotted the ball past the visiting keeper. This was followed up almost immediately by a point from corner forward Laura O’Neill and though she raised the white flag, credit must also go to Emma Maguire and Shanon Byrne for their play in the lead up to O’Neills point.
Suncroft were not the type of side that were just going to lie down though and hit back with three points in a row, without response, the first a well taken solo effort from Ellen Dowling, who beat at least three Kilcock defenders before slotting over from twenty yards. Triona Duggan added a second before Emma Hanlon got her first and only point of the night. Hanlon could have goaled though had it not been for the heroics of Eimear Kelly between the sticks for Kilcock. With Hanlon clean through, she blasted the ball at the goals only for Kelly to get a fingertip to it and tap the ball over the bar. That save was the be the first of many for Kelly and had it not been for her, Suncroft could have been out of sight by half time. That was to be Suncroft’s last score of the half, though they were guilty of too many wides and they did have an in-form Kelly to deal with.
The last ten minutes of the opening period belonged to Kilcock after Suncroft had their purple patch but the girls from Branganstown will be disappointed they didn’t get more from this spell than the three points. Shanon Byrne pointed well after some hard work from Shona Cagney to get the first of the three. Midfielder Caoimhe Fagan added another soon after from thirty yards and Grace White completed the treble from a placed ball. Kilcock just about shaded the opening exchanges with Shona Cagney and Mary White to thank for shoring up the defence while Orla Cagney’s engine was immense as she got up and down the field throughout. One negative from the half for the home side was the loss of full forward Emma Robinson to a hamstring injury.
Half time score: Kilcock 1:04 Suncroft 0:03
The second half took on a similar pattern to the first with the game ebbing and flowing from end to end and while both sides were creating chances, they weren’t converting them. In fact it was ten minutes into the second half before there was a score and it was worth the wait. Kilcock centre forward Sheena Byrne got hold of a loose ball, found some space and split the posts from all of thirty yards. This score seemed to settle Kilcock and when Grace White pointed again from a free they looked to push on from there. Louise Keane was fouled for that White free as Suncroft’s frustration began to grow and she was the victim of a pretty heavy tackle, it was not the only such tackle on the night and a lot of the crowd in attendance felt that referee Garryowen McMahon was wrong in not producing a single yellow card for the sin-bin throughout the sixty minutes. Kilcock’s next two scores were out of the top drawer and two real team efforts. Substitute Noelle Conlon pointed after some great build up play right from the training ground, involving Shona and Orla Cagney. Caoimhe Fagan curled one beautifully over with her trusted right boot after great work from Byrne, White and Fagan herself. That score put Kilcock eight points clear and almost out of sight with fifteen minutes remaining but amazingly it was to be their last score of the game.
I am not quite sure if Kilcock just switched off after that or if Suncroft really turned it on but quickly, something changed and Suncroft began to claw their way back into a match they had looked dead and buried in. Just before the comeback started, Kilcock could have went further ahead had Noelle Conlon been given a penalty when she was clearly been pulled at. Mcmahon waved play on when I am sure Conlon would have prefered the penalty and subsequently, she shot wide from a bad angle. Kilcock then kicked two further wides and that seemed to affect them, they went into their shell, their half forwards started getting dragged back up the pitch and they lost all shape. In fairness to Suncroft they have a forward line as good as any in the county and their constant running at pace would cause the best of sides problems.
Their revival started when corner forward Rebecca Coogan pointed with her left foot and then almost immediately Coogan tested Kelly, who again was unsurprisingly up to the task as she got down low to her left to tap the ball around the post for a ’45’. Kelly was in inspired form and had it not been for her Suncroft could have had five or six goals on the night but she will be unhappy with herself for what happened from the resulting ’45’. Suncroft’s Amy Dunne sent in a high placed kick which took everyone by surprise including Kelly and her full back line as the ball soared over them all and into the back of the net. For all of Suncroft’s pressure, they were going to need a slice of luck to reel in an eight point deficit and that was it. It left only four points between the teams with less than ten minutes remaining and Triona Duggan made that three a minute later. With Kilcock on the ropes and unable to fight back, Suncroft struck another sucker punch when Rebecca Coogan blasted the ball to the back of the net to leave the teams level. It was an unfortunate goal for Kilcock to concede as Coogan seemed to be inside the square when the ball fell to her. This meant that the girls in green and gold were on the wrong end of a square ball decision for the second week in a row, which once again makes me question the point of the existence of this rule. At this stage their was to be only one winner and the visitors, with their tails up, grabbed the lead through centre back Paula Browne before Coogan put the game beyond any doubt with her second point. Suncroft could have had a third goal late on, only for sub Laura Ward to make an amazing intercepting tackle for Kilcock.
The visitors celebrated when McMahon blew the final whistle and no one can begrudge them that as they had just turned an eight point loss into a two point win. Kilcock and stone were visibly upset but they are a young side who will hopefully learn from nights such as tonight. Best for them were Kelly in goal who had it not been for, Suncroft could have had five or six goals. She was served well in defence by Mary Tighe, Hayley White and Shona Cagney. In midfield, the new look partnership of Caoimhe Fagan and Orla Cagney did well both individually and collectively. In the forwards, Kilcock performed admirably when on top in the first half with Sheena Byrne pulling the strings well from centre forward but it was in the second half when the pressure came on that they tended to lose their shape a little and were guilty of not finishing Suncroft off when eight points clear. This is a forward line that put up high scores in previous rounds though so they are bound to bounce back.
For the winners, Muireann Fagan and Paula Browne were to the fore at the back, while Rebecca Coogan, Ellen Dowling and Amy Dunne were a constant thorn in the side of the Kilcock defence. These sides must meet again in the return fixture in a few weeks time and few would bet against them meeting a third time, down the line, with something bigger at stake!
Full Time Score: Kilcock 1:08 Suncroft 2:07
Grace White 1:02
Caoimhe Fagan 0:02
Noelle Conlon 0:01
Sheena Byrne 0:01
Laura O’Neill 0:01
Shanon Byrne 0:01
Rebecca Coogan 1:02
Amy Dunne 1:00
Triona Duggan 0:02
Paula Browne 0:01
Emma Hanlon 0:01
Ellen Dowling 0:01
6:Shona Cagney (c)
Laura Ward for Therese Macken
Noelle Conlon for Emma Robinson (inj)
Aoife Divily, Jennifer Fagan, Eve Powderly, Laura Hodgins, Clare King.
Wide Count: Kilcock (6) Suncroft (12)
Player Of The Game: Eimear Kelly (Kilcock’s goalie)