Kildare Ladies Senior League Div3:
By Robert Cox @ Kilcock GAA
Kilcock Ladies wing forward Grace White kicked six points to help her side to a league double over neighbours Clane and also move a step closer to a much sought after league semi final @ Kilcock on Tuesday last, the 22nd of May. White who had been in fine form coming into this game, was ably assisted on the night by her fellow forwards, as together they found the accuracy that spurred their team onto a fourteen point victory. This was the home sides first outing on the newly opened haloed turf of the main pitch and they were keen to mark it with a victory but again they had to plan without the injured Linda Byrne and she was joined on the sidelines by forward Shanon Byrne, with Noelle Conlon taking her place in the full forward line. That was the only change that manager Shane Stone had to make from the side that won in Kilcullen last week, a side that is now starting to take on a settled and familiar look. Clane for their part travelled with a large squad which was in stark contrast to two weeks ago when thay struugled with the bare minimum, so Stone expected a tough encounter for his team but that would never materialise.
Clane however were the first to draw blood when the game got underway and with only one minute on the clock, midfielder Kiri Lowry fought her way at speed through a porous Kilcock defence and duly tapped over the games opening score. If this was a sign of things to come, Kilcock were to be in trouble but sadly for Clane it wasn’t. In fact it was to be only one of two scores that the girls in all-white would register in the opening period, the other been a pointed free on the 13th minute from Nicki Collins. Kilcock opened their scoring on five minutes as they began to dominate around the middle third of the field and Caoimhe Fagan settled the nerves with a fine point from twenty five yards. Almost straight from the kick out, White opened her account for the night with a hard fought point from play, where she had to battle by two defenders before slotting over from close range. The game was been played at a fast pace right from the off and in fairness to Clane they never made it easy for the hosts but they suffered a hammer blow when an effort for a point from Kilcock full forward Louise Keane dropped short and ended up in the net. Keane had worked hard in the last couple of games and kept at it even when things were not going her way, so she’ll take that slice of luck. For Clane, it was an unfortunate goal to concede and it also served as a double whammy as it spurred Kilcock on for the remainder of the half. White and Noelle Conlon added further points in between Collin’s free for Clane before Emma Robinson got her first score for the girls in green and gold with her trademark fist-pass over the bar. It was her work rate in the build up to the score that will particularly impress Stone. At this stage Kilcock were well on top and as they had opted to play with the breeze in the first half, they tried to rack up as much of a lead as they could before the break. White helped this cause as she pointed wonderfully again on twenty two minutes before Caoimhe Fagan got her second of the night with probably the score of the night, a fine individual effort from all of thirty five yards that split the posts. Conlon completed the scoring for the half with a point from fourteen yards, when a goal was at her mercy but the chance of the goal was most likely hampered by the tugging by the defender at the corner forwards jersey. To Conlon’s credit she stayed on her feet and took her point. She must not watch too much of Didier Drogba!!!
To only heap praise on the midfield and forwards would be wrong of me for when Clane did venture into Kilcock’s half they were promptly stopped by a solid rearguard, spearheaded by Paige Byrne and Fiona Campion. Goalie Eimear Kelly pulled off a top save too after ten minutes,when she dived bravely at the feet of the Clane forward to prevent a goal. Kelly is making a habit of this and made sure that for the second game in a row against Clane, she would keep a clean sheet. Kilcock play a nice style of football but at times over complicated things in the first thirty minutes, short passing around the middle when maybe a quick ball into the forwards could have been the better option but in Shona and Orla Cagney, Aisling O’Connor, Caoimhe Fagan and Sheena Byrne they have five players in a diamond that will trouble most teams. It was clear to see that Stone was the happier of the two managers at half time when the scoreboard read Kilcock 1:08 Clane 0:02
Just like the first half, the second started at a blistering pace and though Kilcock held a nine point lead, the first score was going to be crucial. Clane pushed to get it but were hit on the break and punished as Kilcock midfielder Aisling O’Connor got the score that her work deserved on thirty four minutes. Clane hit back straight away through a free kick from Collins but almost immediately White responded for Kilcock with her fourth point of the game and it was clear to see she was relishing in her left half forward position and looked a threat every time she got on the ball. The game, as a contest was put to bed a minute later, when some good old-fashioned football resulted in a goal for Emma Robinson. It was pure catch and kick and from Eimear Kelly to Robinson there was only three passes, Kelly to Shona Cagney, Cagney to Sheena Byrne and then Byrne, the centre forward and playmaker played a delightful forty yard pass into the waiting arms of Robinson, who caught the ball over the full back and blasted home her side’s second goal from close range. Robinson has a real eye for goal and that effort brought her tally to four for the season.
To their credit Clane actually kept at it after that and exchanged points with their opponents for the last twenty minutes. Stone and his selector Seamus Kane did ring the changes and emptied the bench in order for some of the younger girls to gain some valueable experience but again it was White who raised the next flag with her fifth point of the game. Lisa Redmond kicked four points in theses exchanges for Clane, one from play and three frees and looks like a decent player in her own right but in between Conlon, O’Connor and Fagan pointed for the girls from Branganstown with Conlon’s particularly special as she beat two players and nearly took the leather off the ball as she hammered it over from twenty yards. It was fitting however that White would have the last say, this time from a placed ball from close range. It was her first free of the night, a night when she shot six times, scored six times. Five from play and once from a free. To be honest she is probably still only in about third gear so defences beware.
Once again the forwards will get a lot of the praise after notching up a high score but they can thank their defence for another clean sheet and O’Connor and Fagan for their endless hard work and endeavour in midfield. Eimear Kelly was flawless as the last line of defence and showed her skill on the ball at times when called upon to come out as well as her super shot stopping. In defence Campion Byrne, Macken and Tighe were as tight as ever, with the Cagney’s engine helping them up and down the field all night. Shona Cagney especially put her body on the line at times in the first half when standing her ground at centre back and taking the hits from the hard running Clane Midfield. Caoimhe Fagan and O’Connor once again came out on top in the battle of the midfielders and showed a maturity beyond their years whilst giving their team the added bonus of having a scoring number eight and nine. In the half forward line, young Emma Maguire played a stormer,
showing no fear of any challenge and carrying the ball forward whilst looking for a player in a better position. Though centre forward Sheena Byrne didn’t get her name on the score sheet, she set up her fair share and proved once again that she is making that playmaking role her own. Scores win you games and Louise Keane, Robinson and Conlon produced an impressive return of 2:04 for the full forward line, while all working hard throughout, showing for every ball.
The aforementioned Grace White though was the star forward on the night, not only because of her six point haul but because of her skill on the ball, her awareness and her passing. On any other given night she would be my player of the game but it is testament to full back Paige Byrne and how well she defended, that she beats White to the award. This time last year Byrne was not even playing GAA and now she is one of the first names on manager Shane Stone’s team sheet. Her pace and acceleration is her key asset but that alone is no good if you haven’t got other attributes but luckily for her and Kilcock, she adds a fantastic reading of the game to that list and her ability to take a high ball out of the sky over a forward is second to none. She kept her player scoreless also so her receiving player of the match is well justified. Stone knows tougher challenges lie ahead and already has to plan without Mary Tighe who is America bound for the summer but if he can keep the bulk of this team together, he has a great chance of guiding them to a league final.
Kilcock Ladies would like to wish Mary all the best on her travels. She will be sorely missed as she had been playing some of the best football of her career this year. Good luck Mary.
Full Time Score Kilcock 2:15 Clane 0:07
Grace White 0:06 (1f)
Emma Robinson 1:01
Caoimhe Fagan 0:03
Noelle Conlon 0:03
Louise Keane 1:00
Aisling O’Connor 0:02
Lisa Redmond 0:04 (3f)
Kiri Lowry 0:01
Nicki Collins 0:02 (1f)
6:Shona Cagney (c)
Hayley White for Orla Cagney
Laura Ward for Therese Macken
Jennifer Fagan for Noelle Conlon
Eve Powderly for Louise Keane
Laura O’Neill (inj)
Wides: Kilcock (8) (5 in 1st half) (3 in 2nd half) Clane (4)
Player Of The Game: Paige Byrne