And so the clocks spring forward for 2017 and that extra hour of daylight in the evening can only mean one thing; the start of the Ladies Football Season.
The St Brendan’s Senior Ladies Team Sponsored by McGowan’s of Phibsborough commenced life in Division 8 of the Ladies Adult Football League with a trip to Sean Moore Park in Ringsend and a meeting with old foes Clanna Gael Fontenoy. A team that gave the Female Dark Force much heartache in 2015, with the second of those three defeats, in the League that July, still very much talked about. The defeat almost 2 years ago was a promotion decider in which the girls came out on the wrong side of the result. The match was moved to an 8pm start under floodlights, even though the lights didn’t get switched on until shortly after throw in.
The girl’s lined out missing 7 of last year’s starting 15. Claire Hannon has relocated for love to Inverness with Sarah Doherty, much the same, moving home to Donegal. The other 5 out through injury and work commitments were Julie O’Neil, Claire Owens, Shauna Fitzpatrick, Eimear ‘Frisky’ McKenna and Karen ‘The Rooster’ O’Connell. The St Brendan’s side had as many as 5 debutants, Catherine Twomney at corner back, Katie Lavelle at midfield, Michelle Dolan and Sinead Morrissey at wing forward with Lavina McGloin at corner forward.
Following a dominant start from the girls, scores just weren’t happening. From the first attack Julie Fox took one step too many when going for a shot on goal. It was the home side opened the scoring with a point after 10 minutes. With Karen O Connell injured, Inés Rubio Alcalá-Galiano donned the goalkeeper’s gloves. A Brendan’s kick out was turned over a short time later resulting in a 2nd Clann Point.
A flowing dark force move lead to the evening’s first score for the girls, a Julie Fox long ball found Helen Lenihan, who passed to Christine Dilworth who shot for goal and had her shot saved, but corner forward Lavina McLoone retrieved and side-footed the ball into the net.
From the resulting kick out Katie Lavelle, having a dominant display with Kate Reddan in midfield, won possession, and found Fox who rattled the roof of the Clanna Gael net for a second time.
St Brendan’s were not finished, Erin Fadian won a turn-over, and passed to Morrissey (Sinead, not the ex-Smiths frontman and solo artist!) and played a diagonal ball to the edge of the square where Fox and her marker competed for the ball which broke over both heads, but Lavina McGloin pounced to palm the ball into the net for her second goal and Brendan’s third. (3-00 to 0-02).
From here Clanna Gael Fontenoy scored a brace of well worked points. Following an Anne Marie Riney turnover a move involved 5 passes ended up on the boot of Christine Dilworth who calmly slotted the ball into the net. Despite hitting a long range wide earlier in the match, Dilworth made no mistake second time round, winning a Clanna Gael kick-out the centre forward slotted over from 25 meters out for a good point. Brendan’s could have got a 5th goal but Dilworth was penalised for a throw ball to Fox when in a good position.
A trio of points from Clann saw out the half and meant that St Brendan’s held a six point advantage
Half Time Score: St Brendan’s 4-01(13) to 0-07 Clanna Gael
The home side dominated possession in the third quarter, and despite hitting a dozen wide’s managed to score four to put two points between the sides 4-01(13) to 0-11.
At this point, the author of this piece feared the nightmare of July 1st 2015 was about to strike again. But was it?
A few changes from the side-line appeared to shake things up and Helen Lenihan, who played that fateful evening two years ago, collected a cross field ball from Kate Redden, turned and ran at the Clann defence soloing 50 meters, Lenihan put the head down and got the point she deserved, but a short time later, following two seething attacks, Clann had the deficit back to two again, 4-02 to 0-13.
Following a turnover in defence Shona Daly found space, accelerated into midfield and laid it off to Katie Lavelle who at pace found Julie Fox. Fox turned and accelerated into space when she was caught late and high by the Clann corner back, the back coming off second best to the Ballylanders Bullet. The break in play was much needed for St Brendan’s with Eugene Cunningham rounding up his troops and urging them to regroup and once again reminding them of July 1st 2015. Sinead Morrissey took the free but it tailed went wide.
Andrea Curley put in a vital hand to thwart a promising Clann attack but the attack continued and the ball blazed across the face of goal and wide. Despite her miss three minutes earlier, Sinead Morrissey put daylight, under floodlights, between the sides with a crucial score.
Any thought of a Clanna Gael recovery was eased when Shona Daly won yet another kick-out, made ground and passed to Julie Fox who rattled the net with a powerful swing of her right leg. This fifth goal of the night, made it 5-03 to 0-12 with two minutes to go.
Twenty seconds to go in normal time and the three wise men of Cunningham, McGinley and Conroy relaxed as Julie Fox collected a long ball of fellow Limerick Lady Helen Lenihan before turning and striking her third and St Brendan’s sixth goal of the evening.
Despite a late Clanna Gael consolation score, Inés Rubio Alcalá-Galiano was delighted that no goals were conceded and thanked her backs for their heroic defending.
So Brendan’s Ladies Footballers begin life in LAFL8 with a victory, and a victory out of the hurt locker which will give the team a huge psychological lift going into the season ahead.
Final Score from Sean Moore Park in Ringsend: St Brendan’s 6-03(21) to 0-13 Clanna Gael Fontenoy
St Brendans: Ines Rubio Alcala-Galliano, Helen Macklin (Tracey Weldon), Ann-Marie Riney, Catherine Twomney, Andrea Curley, Erin Fadian, Shona Daly, Katie Lavelle, Kate Reddan, Michelle Dolan, Christine Dilworth (1-1), Sinead Morrissey (0-1), Lavina McGloin (2-0), Julie Fox (3-0), Helen Lenihan (0-1)