Liberty Insurance All Ireland Premier Junior Semi-Final
A cursory glance at the final score last Saturday would lead one to form the opinion that this was an easy win for Limerick, but that certainly was not the case. A goal and two points in injury-time at the end of the game gave the final margin a very lop-sided look and was unfair to a battling Roscommon team who just came up short in the end.
Grit, determination and will-to-win were qualities that Roscommon showed all through this match but in the end it was missed chances that cost them a place in the All-Ireland final against Kerry next month.
Having recovered from a poor start, Karol Collins’ team worked extremely hard to get to within two points by the 55th minute but some costly wides, and a failure to convert possession into scores proved a bridge too far.
Played on a day borrowed from mid-winter at Cusack Park in Ennis, with a strong wind and squally showers, the conditions were difficult for the players and it was Limerick who began best with the elements at their backs. By the 9th minute they were ahead by 0-5 to 0-1 with Shauna Fallon’s converted free in the 4th minute Roscommon’s only score.
But Rachel Fitzmaurice and Susan Spillane were getting a grip at midfield. Both were outstanding all through as they drove Roscommon forward time after time. In the 10th minute Fitzmaurice drove over a point after a surging run, and two minutes later Shauna Fallon converted a free. Then Lorraine Kenny pointed after a superb Roscommon team move and the margin was down to just one (0-5 to 0-4).
But that was to be Roscommon’s last score of the half and it was Limerick who kicked on before the break. Pressure on the Roscommon defence was yielding frees, and Rebecca Noonan converted three placed balls before the break to leave the half-time score Limerick 0-8 Roscommon 0-4.
Roscommon opened the second-half scoring in the 32nd minute with a Shauna Fallon free but the Shannonsiders were looking dangerous in attack and Roscommon had reason to be thankful to their goalkeeper twice in the space of two minutes as she kept her side in the game. First Geri Mai O’Kelly sent a blistering drive goalwards in the 36th minute but Michaela Fallon tipped it over for a point and then Ella Whelan was through only for Fallon to make another superb save.
Rebecca Noonan converted another free for Limerick in the 44th minute to push the margin out to five but Roscommon responded well, and with Spillane and Fitzmaurice in the engine room, the revival came with Roscommon knocking over three points in a row. Shauna Fallon pointed two frees and Susan Spillane pointed from play. With 55 minutes on the clock it was Limerick 0-10 Roscommon 0-8.
But that was as good as it got for Roscommon and as the game slipped into injury-time Limerick came with a decisive burst of scoring. Noonan pointed a free in the 61st minute and two minutes later Noelle Curtin cut in from the right flank to shoot another point. Then in the 63rd minute sub Shauna Darcy supplied the moment of the game when she burst through the Roscommon defence and blasted home for a superb goal.
Limerick probably deserved to win it on overall play although Roscommon will point to several missed chances including a few frees that went astray especially in the second half. But it’s a young Roscommon team and under impressive manager Karol Collins they have plenty to look forward to.
Limerick: Leah O’Carroll; Kate Herbert, Anne Tangney, Evan Butler; Sarah Shanahan, Yvonne Lee, Sinead McElligott; Orlaith Kelleher, Ann Kennedy; Rebecca Noonan (0-6, 5 frees), Gery Mai O’Kelly (0-2), Noelle Curtin (0-1); Ella Whelan, Grace Lee, Michelle Curtin (0-3).
Subs: Leah Browne for Kennedy (32), Shauna Darcy (1-0), for Curtin (61), Katie Carroll for Whelan (63).
Roscommon: Michaela Fallon; Aisling McDermott, Maebh Tiernan, Chloe Whyte-Lennon; Aine O’Meara, Emer McNally, Joanne Beattie; Susan Spillane (0-1), Rachel Fitzmaurice (0-1); Alisha Lenehan, Kathy Jones, Shauna Fallon (0-5 frees); Lorraine Kenny (0-1), Fiona Connell, Lisa Dolan.
Subs: Kate Doyle for Dolan (37), Ella Killion for Kenny (47).
Referee: Paul Ryan (Kildare)