Sunday, 29 March 2015

Regal return for Four Roads in Ruislip


Four Roads 4-5 Tara, London 0-3

Four Roads made the long trip to Ruislip on Saturday to take on the London champions Tara. Four-Roads had emerged victorious against the same opposition last year in Ballyforan but one wondered if they would pose a stiffer challenge on home soil.

Any worries that the early morning start and journey would affect Four Roads were quickly dispelled when they started brightly and within a minute had a point on the board, from the stick of corner forward Edel Treacy. Looking more assured and focussed than in the recent county final, Four Roads looked the more dangerous team.

Grainne Egan, Patricia Lennon and Niamh Coyle added three further points from play. Midfielder Caroline Kelly, who captained Galway to an All Ireland Intermediate title last year, was Tara’s best player throughout the game and she posed a constant threat. However, Donna Kelly and Catherine Rogerson worked tirelessly to curb that threat. The Four Roads half forward line of Niamh Coyle, Grainne Egan and Sinead O’Brien had the measure of their opponents in the opening period and were delivering good ball inside.

Ann Gleeson and Emer Fahy were strong in defence for Tara and a number of scoring chances were spurned by Four Roads. Tara worked their way into the game and set up a number of good attacking moves but found the Four Roads defence in mean mood. Siobhan Coyle was outstanding at centre back as she adopted a sweeping role across her backline. The crucial score came in the 26th minute when after a period of sustained pressure, Elizabeth Glennon’s 45m free found its way to the back of the Tara net. Tara responded and a goal looked a certainty but for a timely clearance off the goal line by Siobhan Coyle. This left Four Roads leading at half time, 1-4 to 0-0.

Tara had the benefit of a strong breeze in the second half and they started in determined mood. Four Roads were on the back foot for the opening minutes and it looked on a number of occasions as if a goal was imminent. However, the defence were excellent, none more so than Marie Glennon and Orla Hughes, while goalkeeper, Breda Mannion, pulled off a few crucial saves. Then just as Tara thought they were getting on top in the game, Four Roads broke quickly from defence. Niamh Coyle’s shot on target was blocked by Kathleen Noone in the Tara goal. As she attempted to clear, Edel Treacy dispossessed her, passed to Elizabeth Glennon, her shot on goal was blocked but the rebound was finished to the net by Patricia Lennon.

Within minutes, Grainne Egan added another point from play. To Tara’s credit they refused to give up and pulled back three points in as many minutes, two frees and a point from play.  At this stage Gertie Dowd, returning from injury, was introduced to provide fresh legs in defence and she did very well after her introduction. Within minutes, any hopes Tara had of making a comeback were dashed when Sinead O’Brien gathered a pass from the wing and drove the ball into the Tara net. Worse was to follow for Tara when Niamh Coyle added another goal. Four minutes into injury time the referee awarded a penalty to Tara but the goal-bound effort was saved by Gertie Dowd.

Four-Roads were good value for their win but it wasn’t as easy as the scoreline suggests. Tara were confident that this year they had the team to get them through, having acquired players from Galway and Kilkenny. Four Road’s work rate was exceptional and it was that more than anything that led to their victory. Orla Hughes kept the dangerous Denise Gilligan scoreless. Siobhan and Niamh Coyle looked back to their best. Grainne Egan had a towering game at centre forward on Tara’s captain, Bridget Grennan. Seventeen-year-old, Edel Treacy, starting her first game at this level, had a great game at corner forward. Four Roads now go through to the All Ireland semi-final against the Leinster champions. That final has yet to be played. 

Four Roads: B. Mannion, C. Glennon, O. Hughes, M. Glennon, A. Fallon, S. Coyle, B. Hughes, G. Egan 0-2, C. Rogerson, S. O’Brien (1-0), N. Coyle (1-1), P. Lennon (1-1), L. Glennon (1-0), D. Kelly, E. Treacy (0-1). Subs used: G Dowd for B Hughes 48 mins, O. Gately for S. Coyle 60 mins, N Crean for E Treacy 60 mins.

Tara: K. Noone, N. Keating, A. Gleeson, E. Fahy, A. Digan, B. Grennan, R. Cusack, C. Kelly, M. Brennan, A. Power, H. Murphy, A. Kennelly 0-3 (2 frees), N. Dolan, D. Gilligan, J. Hamilton.