Friday 18 October 2019

Gallant Sligo fall short in semi final

All-Ireland Intermediate Ladies Football Championship Semi Final: Tipperary 3-15 Sligo 3-5

Daire Walsh

They produced a gallant second half display at Nowlan Park, Kilkenny on Saturday afternoon, but Sligo ultimately fell short to an impressive Tipperary in the All-Ireland Intermediate Ladies Football Championship semi-final.

Trailing 3-9 to 0-2 with just 22 minutes gone on the clock, the Yeats County proceeded to outscore their Munster counterparts for the remainder of the contest.

While it eventually resulted in a fourth consecutive exit at the last-four stage, Sligo can take great heart and encouragement from the way they responded to a problematic opening.

Despite being on the receiving end of a 3-12 to 2-9 reversal at the hands of Roscommon in this year's Connacht decider, Sligo bounced back to reach the knockout rounds of the All-Ireland series.

They subsequently edged out the challenge of Offaly, setting up a meeting with Tipperary at the penultimate phase of the competition.

It was always going to be an arduous task against Shane Ronayne's charges, who were champions at this grade as recently as 2017.

Since retaining their Division One league status in the spring time, the Premier had recorded seven champions win on the bounce.

This made them firm favourites to prevail on the day and they stormed in front with a plethora of unanswered scores.

Aishling Moloney, full-back Maria Curley, Caoimhe Condon and Angela McGuigan all found the target for the rampant southerners.

Sligo eventually hit back through Sarah Reynolds - the centre-forward pointing at the end of an incisive run.

However, this only provided Ted Maloney's side with a temporary respite.

Squeezed in between a brace of Moloney points, Condon rattled the net off a precise McGuigan pass. This propelled Tipperary into an eight-point cushion and the signs were already quite ominous for Sligo.

They registered a series of wides in succession during the first-quarter and Eoghan Rua's Sinead Naughton was forced to work hard for a 13th-minute score.

Tipperary were much more efficient with the chances that came their way and maintained a safe distance between themselves and Sligo.

Aisling McCarthy and Roisín Daly raised white flags for the two-time winners - in advance of a clinical McGuigan major on 18 minutes.

After Condon added another point via Moloney's excellent approach play, the Brian Borus attacker beat St Nathy's netminder Noelle Gormley for a second time.

Sligo were searching for something to inject fresh life into their play and Ciara Gorman produced it in the 24th-minute.

When presented with a one-on-one opportunity, she delivered a composed finish beyond the reach of Lauren Fitzpatrick.

Nevertheless, a Moloney free ensured Tipperary brought a seemingly unassailable 3-10 to 1-2 cushion into the break.

Sligo had introduced Lauren Boles, Stephanie O'Reilly and Michelle McNamara prior to the interval, and they all made a significant difference.

Following traded frees by Elaine O'Reilly and Moloney, the energetic Stephanie O'Reilly unleashed an unstoppable strike to the roof of the Tipperary net.

Another McCarthy point looked set to keep their rivals on track, but Sligo simply wouldn't relent.

On the third-quarter mark, Tipp custodian Fitzpatrick was no match for Boles's brilliantly right-footed effort. This reduced the gap to nine points and even though a dramatic fightback was never going to materialise, it was clear Sligo were ready to die with their boots on. McCarthy and Katie Cunningham split the uprights in quick succession for Tipperary, only for Boles and Gorman to do likewise at the far end.

Player of the match Moloney's sixth point of the tie eased Tipp over the line, but Sligo have left them with enough to ponder ahead of their final showdown against Meath on September 15.

Scorers - Tipperary: Caoimhe Condon 2-2, Aishling Moloney 0-6 (4f), Angela McGuigan 1-1, Aisling McCarthy 0-3, Maria Curley, Roisin Daly, Katie Cunningham 0-1 each. Sligo: Ciara Gorman (0-1f), Lauren Boles 1-1 each, Stephanie O'Reilly 1-0, Elaine O'Reilly (f), Sarah Reynolds, Sinead Naughton 0-1 each.

Tipperary: Lauren Fitzpatrick; Lucy Spillane, Maria Curley; Emma Cronin; Brid Condon, Samantha Lambert, Caitlin Kennedy; Aisling McCarthy, Anna Rose Kennedy; Roisin Daly, Aishling Moloney, Niamh Lonergan; Caoimhe Condon, Angela McGuigan, Laura Dillon. Subs: Ava Fennessy for Lonergan, Katie Cunningham for Dillon (both 39), Anna Carey for McGuigan (45), Emma Morrissey for Daly (50).

Sligo: Noelle Gormley; Clare Dunne, Grainne O'Loughlin, Jacqui Mulligan; Bernice Byrne, Ruth Goodwin, Ann Marie Coleman; Sinead Regan, Laura-Ann Laffey; Sarah Reynolds, Sinead McTiernan, Sinead Naughton; Elaine O'Reilly, Ciara Gorman, Lisa Casey.

Subs: Lauren Boles for McTiernan, Stephanie O'Reilly for Casey (both 23), Michelle McNamara for Coleman (28), Rachel Monaghan for E O'Reilly (50).

Referee: Kevin Phelan (Laois).

Sligo Champion