Dublin LGFA JFC ‘C’ semi-final
St Finian’s, Swords….3-5
CASTLEKNOCK ‘B’ produced the goods in both halves at Somerton Park last Wednesday to advance to the Dublin Junior ‘C’ Ladies Football Championship decider at the expense of St Finian’s, Swords.
Despite coming under severe pressure, ‘Knock found themselves four points clear (4-5 to 3-4) at the midway stage of this last-four encounter. The second period may not have been as goal-laden as the one that preceded it, but a 58th-minute finish from the excellent Aisling O’Neill ensured that the hosts came away with a convincing victory in the end.
Castleknock will now face Garda/Westmanstown Gaels in the competition’s final, following the latter’s 5-9 to 2-10 triumph over Fingallians ‘B’ on the same night.
‘Knock were coming into this game on the back of an unbeaten march through Group B of the championship – four consecutive wins helping them to secure top spot with minimal fuss. Finian’s did lose out to Garda/Westmanstown Gaels in Group A (in addition to drawing with Whitehall Colmcille), but victories against Ranelagh Gaels and Portobello were enough to book a last-four place for the Swords outfit.
Both teams were looking to make an early statement but it was Castleknock who ultimately got the ball rolling. Roughly 40 seconds were on the clock when corner-forward Ciara Murray rattled the Finian’s net at a left-hand angle.
Even though this was a set-back for the visitors, they quickly heralded their arrival in Somerton. After full-forward Emma Howe had traded points with O’Neill, a rebounded effort by wing-forward Shannon Britnell found its way past opposition netminder Emma Byrne for an eighth-minute goal.
This was swiftly followed by an Annabelle Timothy green flag finish on the turn, which offered Finian’s a stranglehold on the proceedings. However, a Murray point eased the Castleknock nerves and the dynamic attacker subsequently released her inside partner Ali Coleman for another goal on 14 minutes.
Three-pointers were quickly becoming the order of the day, with both sides once again securing the maximum reward from attacks inside the second quarter. Britnell’s second goal of the half helped Finian’s to regain the ascendancy, before Howe added an impressive 0-2 salvo to her personal tally.
Castleknock full-forward Coleman proceeded to palm home her second major of the half and while Britnell split the uprights in the 22nd-minute, Finian’s were on the back foot in the closing moments of the opening period. Niamh Kiernan and Murray combined to level matters, in advance of a speculative Orla Kindlon shot drifting into the net inside first-half stoppage-time.
Wing-back Aoife Douglas also added a fine score to offer Castleknock considerable momentum on the restart.
In stark contrast to its action-packed predecessor, the second period was much more reserved, with clear-cut opportunities coming at a premium. It took all of nine minutes for the first score of the half and it was Castleknock who extended their cushion through a Kindlon point.
Central attackers O’Neill and Coleman also kicked between the posts either side of the third-quarter mark but even though they were struggling to re-establish themselves, a final place wasn’t beyond Finian’s just yet. Claire McMenamin added a much-needed point for the River Valley women and they gained a numerical advantage when Niamh Mulroney was sin-binned on 54 minutes.
Castleknock didn’t panic in the defender’s absence, however, and placed the outcome beyond doubt with a devastating two-minute scoring blitz. The hard-working Mairead Griffin added her name to the scoresheet from a free and this was almost immediately supplemented by O’Neill’s clinical finish to the opposition net.
Murray also contributed a place-ball score as Castleknock eased themselves over the line in this penultimate phase clash.
Junior ‘D’ Championship winners at the expense of Garristown in 2018, Castleknock’s second team will now be hoping to add a higher grade title to their list of honours. The first string have also been intermediate finalists in the past two seasons and with their campaign set to get underway on August 10, it could prove to be an excellent year for ladies football in the club.
Scorers - Castleknock ‘B’: A Coleman 2-1, C Murray 1-3 (0-1f), A O’Neill 1-2, O Kindlon 1-1, M Griffen (f), A Douglas, N Kiernan 0-1 each.
St Finian’s, Swords: S Britnell 2-1, A Timothy 1-0, E Howe 0-3 (1f), C McMenamin 0-1.
CASTLEKNOCK ‘B’: E Byrne; S Brady, C Killilea, S McCarthy; N Mulroney, Z Fitmaurice, A Douglas; N Kiernan, S Nic Sheoin; M Delaney, A O’Neill, O Kindlon; M Griffin, A Coleman, C Murray.
Subs: N Hartnett, A Rafferty, H Bourke, L Ryan.
ST FINIAN’S, SWORDS: S Duignan; K Hanley, G Murray, J Crowley; L Cronin, L Cummins, A Byrne Bates; M McKeown, C McMenamin; S Britnell, B Orahoe, E Kane; A Timothy, E Howe, E Curran.
Subs: R Church, C Buchanan, S Duffy, A Gorman, A McClean, C Brooks, L Dolan, R Kenny.
MENTORS - Castleknock ‘B’: Mickey McGuigan, Lisa Heavey.
St Finian’s, Swords: Warren Hanley, Neil Comer, Paul Timothy, Niamh Walsh.
Referee: Ciara O’Brien (Garda/Westmanstown Gaels).
WIDES - Castleknock ‘B’: 7 (5+2).
St Finian’s, Swords: 6 (2+4).
CONDITIONS: Dry and bright.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH: Aisling O’Neill (Castleknock ‘B’).