Roscommon Intermediate Ladies tasted their first defeat in the Bord Gais Energy National Football League against a much fitter and sharper Westmeath in floodlit Coralstown/Kinnegad on Sunday evening last.
With a number of players out Sinead Cooney and Clionadh McHugh sick and Niamh Ward injured, Benny Morris and his management team had to make last minute changes to their starting fifteen. The home side won the toss and opted to play with the very strong wind blowing into the town end goal. Westmeath were six points to no score up after ten minutes.
Emer Casey got Roscommon’s first point of the evening in the twelfth minute after a steal in the half back line by Laura Sharkey and a move involving Natalie McHugh and Jenny Higgins. From the kick-out Jenny Conlon won a breaking ball and cut through the Westmeath defence and found Jenny Higgins, but Higgins’ shot on goal skimmed of the upright and wide.
Roscommon were matching Westmeath in all areas of the field with the back lines working particularly hard, and began to dominate for the next ten minutes. In the fourteenth minute Joanne Maher was disposed by Louise Tully and a move involving Natalie McHugh saw Roscommon register their second score from the boot of Jenny Higgins. Westmeath had an instant response.
Roscommon created another goal chance in the seventeenth minute after a run by Marla Candon who was having a good game around the middle, found Emer Casey inside with a sublime pass but Casey’s shot on goal was blocked by Kelly Boyce and went out for a forty five. Despite a Westmeath point, Roscommon kept battling and in the twenty second minute a great move involving Marla Candon and Claire Grehan found Jenny Conlon free inside, but her shot on goal was saved by the Keeper Christine Warburton.
From the kick out a high catch by Natalie McHugh saw her get Roscommon’s third score. Westmeath were reduced to fourteen players on the stroke of half time with Michelle Malone sin binned after a high tackle on Natalie McHugh. Westmeath’s Maud Foley got the last score of the half in the second minute of injury time. Half-time score Westmeath 0-09 Roscommon 0-03.
With the wind in their favour and Westmeath down to fourteen players, Roscommon supporters hoped for better things in the opening ten minutes of the second half, but Westmeath were first to score after a line ball taken quickly by Kelly Boyce to Emma Morris who landed her fourth point into the strong wind in the thirty third minute. In the thirty fifth minute a high ball in by Jenny Higgins found Jenny Conlon inside, again Roscommon were to be denied a goal by the upright. Two minutes later a foul on Maud Foley saw the same player get her second point of the evening from the resulting free kick.
In the thirty seventh minute Roscommon had a chance to narrow the gap after a great run by Jenny Higgins through the centre and her shot for a point hit the upright and wide. Westmeath hit four unanswered points between the thirty eight and the fifty minute mark. The Roscommon management made changes and introduced Niamh Ward for Casey and Aine O’Brien for Conlon. In the fiftieth minute a Westmeath attack broke down after Louise Tully made a great interception and moved the ball to Natalie McHugh who scored a fine point on the run. Minutes later a long ball in from Natalie McHugh to Niamh Ward out on the right wing drew the Westmeath full back Triona Durcan who had been very solid all evening, and offloaded to the unmarked Sarah Finerty who blasted to the back of the net. Two minutes later Roscommon had rattled the back of the Westmeath net for the second time when another long ball in this time by Jenny Higgins to Aine O’Brien and the substitute slipped passed the advancing keeper. Roscommon finished strong with two points from midfielder Marla Candon. Full-time score Roscommon 2-6 Westmeath 0-17.
Roscommon: Bridgetta Menton, Claire Kelly, Aishling Egan, Maria Keenehan, Laura Sharkey, Michelle Walshe, Louise Tully, Sharon Ryan, Marla Candon (2), Claire Grehan, Natalie McHugh (2), Jenny Conlon, Jenny Downey, Jenny Higgins (1), Emer Casey (1). Subs used: Sarah Finerty (G) for J Downey Niamh Ward for E Casey, Aine O’Brien (G) for J Conlon, Suzie Keenehan for M. Keenehan. Round 6: Roscommon v Antrim on Sunday March 27th. Roscommon venue: TBC.