Kildare Ladies Junior A Championship: Semi Final
By Robert Cox @Kilcock GAA
The Kilcock Ladies senior football team reached their third championship final in three years at the expense of a dogged and determined Carbury side at Kilcock GAA on Saturday evening last, the 15th of September. A Grace White penalty midway through the second half was the crucial turning point in a game that ebbed and flowed from start to finish as Carbury let slip a five point lead in a second half that saw their hosts score 2:05 without reply to advance to a final meeting with Naas on Saturday next. Kilcock, who are looking for back to back success having won last year’s Junior B championship will have to plan without influential forward Noelle Conlon for the final and the foreseeable future after she suffered a serious knee injury midway through the opening half. It has been a busy year in the treatment room for the North Kildare side as Conlon’s injury comes after county minor Caoimhe Fagan was also ruled out during the league with a cruciate ligament injury but on the plus side the return to action of Emma Hoare has been a major boost for Stone and his team. Before I write on I would like to wish Conlon and Fagan a speedy, hassle free recovery from their respective injuries. Kilcock’s team sheet for Saturday night saw two changes from the side that defeated Naas seven days previously, with Orla Cagney replacing Shanon Byrne and Grace White coming in for Paige Byrne, while Andrea McGrath who had made her full debut against Naas maintained her place on the half forward line. Carbury for their part welcomed back former county star Catherine O’Malley at full forward. There was some doubt all week as to whether or not there would be enough daylight to complete this game with the throw in time put back to 6:45 upon a request from the visitors but thankfully that was not a problem on the night.
Kilcock started the game like a team on a mission and with every player winning their personal duels, they dominated the first ten minutes and shot into a three point lead thanks to points from play from Emma Hoare, Grace White and Noelle Conlon on two, four and six minutes respectively. That was as good as it got though in the first half for the girls in green and gold who would only score one more point in the remaining twenty minutes. A repeat of that will not be good enough to see off a fancied Naas side. Carbury shot to life when corner forward Emily Kelly tapped the ball home to an empty net after Eimear Kelly had saved brilliantly from Catherine O’Malley only to see the ball fall at the feet of the unmarked Kelly, who drew the sides level with her three pointer. The large crowd were stunned to silence and disbelief but at the same time the question of ‘where was the marking’? could be heard around the ground. This was a hammer blow to the home side and it also helped Carbury push on and add five points to the goal before the half’s end with Shona Cagney adding a solitary point for her team as she tried to lead by example. O’Malley put her dangerous left foot to good use as she kicked three out of the five, while centre forward Shauna O’Brien and corner forward Karen (twiggy) Cummins also raised the white flag with a point a piece. The stoppage in play to allow attention on for Noelle Conlon did nothing to help Kilcock who were clearly saddened to lose a player of Conlon’s ability while at the same time having to deal with losing corner back Hayley White to a shoulder injury. They just couldn’t get into their usual stride in the opening period and changes had to be made at half time if Kilcock were to progress. Stone and his selectors knew this and reacted well by putting Grace White wing forward, Shona Cagney to midfield and Sheena Byrne to centre forward. Kilcock would not look back!!
Half Time Score: Kilcock 0:04 Carbury 1:05
Right from the throw in for the second half it was clear to see that Kilcock meant business and when Grace White won and pointed her own free to leave three between the teams the crowd could sense that they might have a game on their hands again but Carbury are made of tough stuff and O’Malley replied almost instantly with two fine left-footed points from play to extend her sides lead to five points. That was it though as far were Carbury were concerned as they went onto mimic what their opponents did in the first half and not score for the remainder of the game. Kilcock had a huge part to play in this as they began to pile forward at will in a bid to get back into the game. Five minutes after O’Malley pointed for the last time, the games pivotal moment came when Sheena Byrne stormed into the Carbury penalty area, dinked around a few players and just as she was about to pull the trigger she was hauled to the ground. PENALTY!! Now while everyone around her could hardly bare to look, Grace White remained the coolest person inside the grounds as she placed the ball away to the keeper’s left and into the top corner. It was a pressure cooker situation but you couldn’t ask for a better player to be in that position. Game On. White added a free three minutes later to leave the minimum between the teams before Emma Robinson got the point her hard work deserved to level matters on ’52’. Robinson was in complete command of her full forward berth all night as she won ball at will before laying it off to her team mates in a better position if the score was not on for herself. Getting good early ball into her will be key if Kilcock are to have any joy in the final. White kicked the all important point from a free that put the hosts into the lead a minute later. White once again pointed, this time from play with what was a fine individual score before Sheena Byrne put the tie beyond doubt with a fine strike to the top corner of Hannah Gilligan’s net with only a few minutes remaining. This seemed to suck the life out of Carbury who were unable to mount a comeback and it was fitting that the last score of the night went to White, once again from a placed ball as she pointed to give her side a six point victory. When the referee blew the final whistle there were jubilant scenes amongst both players and supporters at Branganstown and the daylight had long faded before the last of them had left the pitch. Stone and his side are streetwise enough by now to realise that no medals were handed out Saturday night and will quickly turn their attentions to Naas.
Kilcock’s fitness was key as they blew their opponents out of the water in the second half but with injuries to deal with and only a week to prepare before the final, Stone and his backroom team will have it all to do to have their panel in tip top shape for Naas but these girls are made of stern stuff and if anyone can do it they can. Best for Kilcock were Orla Cagney and Emma Maguire at the back while Shona Cagney had a stormer of a game when moved to midfield as she helped push her side forward in their pursuit of destiny. Grace White kicked 1:06 with 1:04 of that coming from frees and a penalty but her all round play has to be admired also while Emma Robinson, Andrea McGrath and Sheena Byrne also had a big impact on proceedings. But Emma Hoare gets the nod for player of the game for her all round play on the night. Hoare left no stone unturned as she she played her roaming role to full affect and when the chips were down she along with Cagney drove her side on and was at the forefront of every home attack. Best for Carbury on the night were Catherine O’Malley, Claire Sullivan and Shauna O’Brien. For Carbury their year is over and it’s back to the drawing board but for Kilcock the biggest night of their footballing lives awaits on Saturday night in Leixlip when they bid to beat Naas and claim the Junior A Championship. Best of luck girls. I believe in you!!
Full Time Score: Kilcock 2:10 Carbury 1:07
Grace White 1:06 (1p) (4f)
Sheena Byrne 1:00
Emma Robinson 0:01
Shona Cagney 0:01
Noelle Conlon 0:01
Emma Hoare 0:01
Catherine O’Malley 0:05 (1f)
Emily Kelly 1:00
Karen Cummins 0:01
Shauna O’Brien 0:01
6:Shona Cagney (c)
Shanon Byrne for Hayley White (inj)
Laura O’Neill for Noelle Conlon (inj)
Paige Byrne for Louise Keane
Wides: Kilcock (7) Carbury (4)
Frees Conceded: Kilcock (23) Carbury (29)
Player Of The Game: Emma Hoare (Kilcock) Emma Hoare gets the nod for player of the game for her all round play on the night. Hoare left no stone unturned as she played her roaming role to full affect and when the chips were down she along with Cagney drove her side on and was at the fore front of every home attack. Hoare coming out of retirement has been one of the key moments of the year for Kilcock.