Kildare Ladies Senior League Division3 Round6:
By Robert Cox
The Kilcock Senior Ladies team completed the double over their great rivals of recent years, Kilcullen, with a fourteen point victory in Kilcullen on Tuesday night last, the 15th May. This game was not as plain sailing for Shane Stone’s side as the eventual winning margin might suggest, largely due to Kilcock’s failure to hit the target on many occasions and Kilcullen’s never say die attitude throughout. Stone and his selector Seamus Kane were happy to welcome back defender Paige Byrne from injury, while the influential Aisling O’Connor also returned to the side in midfield but they still had to plan without regular full back Linda Byrne who faces a few weeks on the sideline with a broken finger sustained against Clane in round three. Kilcullen or ”The Ragettes” as they are known by the locals had the bare minimum on the night, with only one substitute to call upon if needed yet they looked a professional outfit in the warm up and their management team must be praised for their organisation and persistance with a side struggling at the wrong end of the table at the half way stage of this division three league campaign.
Kilcock flew out of the traps right from the off and dominated around the middle of the field but their failure to hit the target (which would turn out to be a problem all night) was evident in the first five minutes. In fact it took eight minutes before midfielder Caoimhe Fagan showed the forwards how it was done and raised the white flag from twenty yards after a strong run through the middle. Fagan doubled her and Kilcock’s tally one minute later when she once again finished off a great individual score before Kayleigh Coogan hit one back almost immediately for the home side and just like Fagan, she too had to create and finish the score, with a strong solo effort from midfield finished off with a right-footed shot over the bar. Kilcock were aware of Coogan’s strong running before the game and also well aware that in Jayne Peacock, Kilcullen had one of the best finishers in the county and though Peacock would eventually end up having a quite night, thanks mainly in part to Paige Byrne’s tight marking, the dangerous full forward levelled matters up on ten minutes with a fine left footed effort. That was as good as it would get for the hosts though on the night and when Sheena Byrne pointed for Kilcock soon after, the North Kildare side would never look back. In fact this game could have been over at half time had Kilcock’s conversion rate been higher but alas it wasn’t and that is what made it a tight contest up until the break. Kilcock were creating the chances though and full forward Emma Robinson had a goal dis-allowed soon after when her effort at a fisted point dropped short and into the net. Forwards Louise Keane and Grace White opened their accounts with a fine point from thirty yards and a free respectively while Peacock kept Kilcullen within touching distance with a placed kick of her own.
For all of Kilcock’s dominance they could have went in at the break trailing had it not of been for the heroics of goalkeeper Eimear Kelly. With Kilcullen pressing forward late in the half, Kelly pulled off an excellent point-blank save from Coogan before jumping at the feet of an incoming forward to deny any chance of a rebound. Kelly is making a habit of such saves and Kilcock can count themselves lucky to have a goalkeeper with the quality she possesses. Kilcock were only just the better side in the opening period but the favourites tag beforehand seemed to weigh heavily around their necks, especially in the forward line. In defence they were a solid unit, with all six backs protecting Kelly stoutly except for that one occasion. This side has progressed in recent years and it was clearly visible they and the management were unhappy with the inaccuracy in the first half.
Half Time Score: Kilcullen 0:03 Kilcock 0:05
The start of the second half took on a similar pattern to the start of the first and it looked like it was going to be a close encounter to the end but as they say ‘a goal changes a game’ and that is exactly what substitute Noelle Conlon’s goal did to this contest. Conlon was quickest to react when a Caoimhe Fagan effort for a point came back off the bar and she used her height to her advantage and duly palmed the ball to the back of the net. At this stage Kilcock were well on top in the possession statistics and all of Kilcullen’s effort labouring to contain the green and gold attacks were starting to have an affect on their defence and midfield and they tired quickly. With that Kilcock began to push on with Grace White getting her second of the night before Sheena Byrne pointed after some hard work from Aisling O’Connor. Fagan added another and young Emma Maguire got one of the scores of the night as she finished off a great team score. Though they were beginning to pull away, the Achilles heel that affected Kilcock in the first half, kicking the ball wide from very scoreable angles, was still there in the second. This is something Stone may work on in the coming weeks. At least they did get some shooting practice in as Kilcullen’s challenge faltered and in fairness to score fifteen points in any game is nothing to be sneezed, two of them came from Fagan once again and Conlon in the 47th and 50th minute. Aisling O’Connor got the point her hard work deserved on the 54th minute just before she was subbed for Laura O’Neill. This was one of many changes as Stone emptied the bench to give some girls much needed game time. White, Sheena Byrne and Conlon rounded off proceedings for the visitors while Kilcullen got a consolation point right at the death, their only score of the second half.
In fairness to Kilcullen they were not as bad as the scoreboard suggested and were unlucky to come up against a resolute Kilcock defence, for whom Mary Tighe, Paige Byrne, Therese Macken, Orla and Shona Cgney didn’t give their player an inch on the night. O’Connor and Fagan dominated in midfield and seem to improve with every game and on a night some of the forwards would rather forget, Sheena Byrne was a constant threat and sub Noelle Conlon had a big impact off the bench with a goal and a brace of points. Credit must also go to Shanon Byrne who was substituted early on when any one of her fellow forwards could have suffered the same faith but when called upon in the second half to play wing forward, Byrne obliged and put in a fine last twenty minutes in running at the Kilcullen defence and laying the ball off for a couple of scores. For Kilcullen Karen Bell worked hard all night at full back while Kayleigh Coogan was a constant threat upfront. Speaking to Kilcock Selector Seamus Kane after the game, he was first to admit that it was far from a vintage performance from Kilcock but was quick to point out that that Kilcullen was always a hard place to come to and they were happy to come away with maximum points.
Full Time Score: Kilcullen 0:04 Kicock 1:15
Noelle Conlon 1:02
Caoimhe Fagan 0:04
Grace White 0:03 (1f)
Sheena Byrne 0:03
Louise Keane 0:01
Emma Maguire 0:01
Aisling O’Connor 0:01
Jayne Peacock 0:02 (1f)
Kayleigh Coogan 0:01
6:Shona Cagney (c)
Noelle Conlon for Shanon Byrne
Shanon Byrne for Louise Keane
Hayley White for Orla Cagney (inj)
Laura O’Neill for Aisling O’Connor
Jennifer Fagan for Emma Maguire
Eve Powderly for Laura O’Neill (inj)
Laura Hodgins for Mary Tighe
Laura Ward for Therese Macken (inj)
Wide Count: Kilcullen (1) Kilcock (14) (6 in 1st half) (8 in 2nd half)
Player Of The Game: Caoimhe Fagan (Kilcock)