TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Championship Quarter-Final
Twelve months after their Croke Park aspirations were crushed by Meath at Dr. Hyde Park, Roscommon will have the chance to make amends after a comfortable victory over Kildare last Sunday set Michael Finneran’s on a collision course with the Royal County.
That game is set for Saturday week (August 17th) at Nowlan Park in Kilkenny and on the form Roscommon showed last weekend in Kinnegad, they’ll feel that they have every chance of upsetting the odds and securing a Croke Park appearance for themselves.
Defensively there are still some issues to be ironed out – Kildare full-forward Molly Price enjoyed a very productive afternoon and there were far too many occasions when it looked as if the Lilywhites were able to carve open opportunities by running straight down the middle of the field – but up front Roscommon are moving very well, breaking tackles and creating overlaps in doing so.
A superb team move that started with a stunning block down from Siobhán Tully ended with Rebecca Finan bursting past two defenders and setting up Aimee O’Connor for the game’s opening goal after 13 minutes, and Finneran would have been the much happier manager coming up to half time as his side kept their noses in front, despite playing into a strong breeze.
That all changed in the 25th minute when Price set up Ellen Dowling for a Kildare goal, and from the restart teenage centre forward Neasa Dooley collected possession and rifled the ball into the roof of the net for a second green flag.
Roscommon’s response was exemplary however, as they settled into their work and got back on level terms by half-time. Good angles of running and support play around the middle third was key and with captain Sinéad Kenny doing a lot of the hard defensive work, that freed up Laura Fleming to drive at the Kildare defence and create some good openings. Fleming, Róisín Wynne and Finan (twice) all pointed to draw the sides level at half time, 2-5 1-8, and with the wind set to favour them, Roscommon were well-set to drive on and win.
It took them some time to open up a gap, but points from Siobhán Tully, Finan and Jenny Higgins, not long after her introduction, put some daylight between the sides. Kildare continued to try and run the ball through the Roscommon back line and they carved out occasional chances, with Lauren Murtagh and Molly Price both on the scoresheet at various stages, but their trump card in the first half was their ability to pin Roscommon deep into their own half on the kick-out. Now that Helena Cummins was able to get a bit more distance on her restarts, Roscommon were better able to use the full width of the pitch and create space, and they enjoyed a far greater share of possession.
Still, it wasn’t until the 55th minute that their ticket into the last four of the TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Championship was stamped. Laura Fleming set the move in motion by winning a Kildare kick-out on the right wing, Siobhán Tully took two defenders out of the game with a jinking run and her handpass across the goal was at a perfect height for Jenny Higgins to leap off the ground over her marker and touch it into the far corner of the net.
Late scores from Finan and Tully added further flourish to the scoreboard, and proved that while it’s been a comparatively easy run to the last four for the team, they certainly won’t lack for form or confidence when they step up in class against Meath in nine days’ time.
Roscommon: Helena Cummins; Honor Ennis, Amanda McLoone, Niamh Feeney; Joanne Cregg, Alice Kelly, Sorcha Bruen; Sinéad Kenny, Laura Fleming (0-2); Natalie McHugh (0-1), Róisín Wynne (0-2), Siobhán Tully (0-1); Rebecca Finan (0-9, 6 frees), Aimee O’Connor (1-1), Rachel Fitzmaurice (0-1).
Subs: Alannah Hanmore for Fitzmaurice (half-time), Jenny Higgins (1-1) for O’Connor (37), R. Brady for Tully (60), Katie Daly for McHugh (60)
Kildare: Dervla McGinn; Shauna Kendrick, Trina Duggan, Rachel Cribbin; Claire Sullivan, Sarah Munnelly, Lauren Murtagh (0-1); Siobhán O’Sullivan (0-1), Grace Clifford; Lara Curran, Neasa Dooley (1-1), Aoife Rattigan; Orlaith Sullivan (0-4, 1 free), Molly Price (0-2), Ellen Dowling (1-1).
Subs: Emma Carroll for Murtagh (43), Emily Birch for Rattigan (47), Sally Murphy for Dowling (54), Mikaela McKenna for Curran (60), Rachel Corrigan for Sullivan (60).
Referee: Mel Kenny (Mayo)