TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football Intermediate Semi-Final
It wasn’t supposed to end this way. The dreams of Roscommon Ladies footballers playing in an All-Ireland final in Croke Park on Sunday September 16th were shattered in no uncertain terms by a rampant Meath team who came to the home of Roscommon football and showed a clean pair of heels to the hosts in what was a one-sided semi-final played in perfect weather conditions on Saturday last.
Having put up big scoring totals in all of their championship games thus far and having beaten Meath in both league and championship, hopes were high that Roscommon would be able to use home advantage to help them qualify for a decider against Tyrone. But from the opening exchanges it was clear that Meath were in no mood to be turned over for a third time by the Rossies this year and they turned in a power-packed performance with which the home side were simply not able to cope.
Michael Finneran’s charges had a decent share of possession in the opening quarter but time after time Roscommon players had shots blocked down and the ball was turned over. It sucked the life out of their challenge early on as Meath flourished. Even more worrying was that the Roscommon defence was struggling to cope with the Meath attack and the twin threats of Vikki Wall and Stacey Grimes in particular. The powerfully built Wall caused consternation every time she got the ball and Grimes helped herself to 1-7 over the course of the game.
For Roscommon only Jenny Higgins and Amanda McLoone could have been happy with their performances as too many of the home players simply did not play up to the standard that we had seen all year. Roscommon didn’t manage a single point from play in the opening half and when they went into the break 11 points down it was all over as a contest even at that stage. Roscommon to their credit, kept going, but in truth Meath had booked their place at Croke Park a long time before the final whistle.
It was a real pity given the magnitude of the occasion but it should not take away from the progress that the team has made this year. There is plenty to build on for next year and the old maxim of “you have to lose one to win one” can certainly be applied here.
Michael Finneran has done a marvellous job with this Roscommon team and there is a bunch of dedicated and determined players there who will certainly succeed given time. This was a painful lesson for them but they will learn from it for sure. Let’s hope that management team stays together. Stability is needed.
There are days for every team that it just does not happen on the day and that’s what happened here. It is just such a pity that on their own home soil they were not able to do it, but sport is cruel. There can only be one winner. When the pain of this defeat eases and the Roscommon players look back on 2018 they will deem it a success. Promotion in the league and another tilt at the Intermediate championship should be the aims for 2019.
Meath: Monica McGuirk; Orlaith Duff, Orlagh Lally, Katie Newe; Aoibhinn Cleary, Shauna Ennis, Megan Thynne; Marie O’Shaughnessy, Kate Byrne; Noreen Gallogly (0-1), Vikki Wall (0-2), Stacey Grimes (1-7, 1-0 pen, 4 frees); Marion Farrelly (1-1), Niamh O’Sullivan (0-3, 1 free), Fiona O’Neill (1-3). Subs: Aoibheann Leahy for Byrne (43), Emma White (0-1) for O’Neill (47), Blaithnid Keogh for Ennis (51), Siofra Cleary for Gallogly (57), Orla Byrne for Farrelly (57).
Roscommon: Helena Cummins; Honor Ennis, Amanda McLoone, Megan Kelly; Sorcha Bruen, Aisling McAuliffe, Sinead Kenny; Joanne Cregg, Jenny Higgins; Alice Kelly (1-0), Roisin Wynne, Laura Fleming (1-0); Sheila Brady, Rebecca Finan (0-4, 2 frees), Niamh Feeney. Subs: Jenny Downey (0-1) for Brady (27), Rochelle Mullaney for Bruen (38), Feena Beirne for Ennis (50), Louise Brady for Finan (50), Rachel Brady for Kelly (54).
Referee: Gus Chapman (Sligo)