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Latest Laois Sport: Agonising loss away to Wicklow halts Laois winning streak
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Latest Laois Sport: Agonising loss away to Wicklow halts Laois winning streak

Division 3B National Football League

Round 3

Wicklow 2-09 Laois 1-11

Laois should have come away with a draw from the Garden County. As it turned out Wicklow edged this evenly-matched contest late on with a flurry of scores to deny the O’ Moore women. The visitors, just like our men in 1986, won’t want to return to Aughrim any time soon. The ghosts of ’86 were revived once more as a Laois side were undone in the Wicklow GAA HQ.

At the second water break Laois were motoring well against a dogged Wicklow defence. However the final quarter saw the home side unpick the Laois kickouts with precision. In attack the final fifteen minutes also saw Laois spurn at least three goal chances to leave the door wide open for Wicklow to grab the win.

A low-scoring opening quarter saw Laois combine well up front with Sarah Ann Fitzgerald, Leah Tarpey and Aoife Kirrane shining from the off. Inspired saves from the Wicklow keeper Loretta Gilbert and poor Laois shooting kept the scoreboard operator rooted to his chair until Laois fizzed over the opening point in the seventh minute. At the other end Kealy and Lawless were both guilty of wides after good approach work each time from both Fox and Kealy. Those two Wicklow forwards, who linked up dangerously throughout, were to go on and haunt Laois throughout this tie. Fox then struck for the Wicklow equaliser after a slick ball into her from Burke.

At the far end of the field Winders pulled off a sensational block to keep Laois out. The visitors then saw Anna Healy take the ball into contact and lose possession as their ready supply of ball wasn’t converted into scores. In total contrast then Wicklow broke away and raised the first green when livewire Kealy beat Jenny McEvoy in the corner, cut inside and gave O’ Rourke no chance in the Laois goals.

Slowly but surely the Laois attack clicked into gear. Tarpey was showing well and, when the Sarfeild’s woman was fouled, Fitzgerald tapped over the resulting free. Fitzgerald then turned provider when she fed Kirrane and the St. Conleth’s clubwoman struck a lovely point from play. Laois were now pressing up on the Wicklow kick outs to good effect. The visitors were also now working the overlap for the first time. A sweeping move that started with O’ Rourke saw Moran, Fitzgerald and Tarpey combine before notching their side’s fourth point of the encounter in the lead up to the water break.

The resumption of play saw O’ Rourke pull off a miraculous save to deny Wicklow a second goal. When the ball broke upfield Tarpey and Kirrane combined well before Tarpey fired over another point. When Wicklow did attack Farrelly, Larkin and Potts stood up well to the well-worked attacks from the hosts. That pressure eventually paid dividends for the home outfit however when Kealy pointed after a searing counter-attack.

Sadly Laois began to misfire in attack again with Moran and her teammates firing wide on occasion. It took Tarpey to notch the next point. Having being put through courtesy of a clever pass from Fitzgerald Tarpey’s rasper of a shot had to be put over the bar by the excellent Gilbert in the Wicklow goals. That left Laois in a one-point lead at half-time.

Captain Laura Nerney started the second half determined to show her forwards how to get the job done in front of goal. Twice she raided forward from her centre-back berth to telling effect and on both occasions fired over great scores. Wicklow kept themselves in the tie however with Kealy and Fox proving a thorn in Laois’ side. Kealy, sharp as ever, got on the end of the next attack and fired a missile of a shot past O’ Rourke for her second goal of the game.

Roused by this Laois hit the attack and the visitors were distraught to see a shot cannon back into play off the crossbar. Luckily the referee blew for an earlier infringement and Anna Healy stroked over the free. Laois then pressed up on the Wicklow kick outs and that pressure saw Fitzgerald release Kirrane who pointed. Then Healy pointed a free to put Laois back in the lead. All in all it was a great reaction to the concession of that second goal in those minutes leading up to the water break.

The last quarter saw the momentum swing away from Laois however. For the first time Wicklow were getting on top of the Laois kick outs. Indeed O’ Rourke’s first poor kick out of the encounter resulted in Wicklow scoring from play. At the other end newly-introduced Erone Fitzpatrick, Fitzgerald and Kirrane combined sparklingly but the Wicklow keeper pulled off a fabulous save to thwart Laois. More pressure on O’ Rourke’s next kick out saw Kealy pounce and sweep over another point from play in a sparkling display from the woman.

Laois broke forward with menace however and slick interplay between Fitzpatrick, Laura Nerney and Fitzgerald saw the final goal-bound shot somehow tipped onto the post by Gilbert and then hacked clear. Fitzgerald was now taken off in favour of Mo Nerney with a little over eight minutes remaining. One would have preferred the duo together on the field linking up as they had done against Kildare and Longford.

Wicklow’s next attack saw their best point when Fox somehow swung over her shot from way out on the far wing. Dooley had to be at her sharpest at the back to repel the next Wicklow surge forward. Indeed Dooley then won a free that started the move that saw Laois fire home their goal. Dooley and Galvin linked up well at the back before Hennessy passed to Fitzpatrick who, in turn, fed Mo Nerney who fired an unstoppable shot into the Wicklow netting.

Laois’ next attack saw an adventurous Dooley raid forward but the woman was dispossessed thirty-five yards out from goal. The referee waved play on but Dooley had been clearly fouled. Laura Nerney was then called upon to stretch every centimetre of her frame to bravely nip in and stop Wicklow’s next attack. The Fox Kealy combo were not to be denied however and a pointed Kealy free was deserved reward for sparkling play from Fox. Late on Laois carved out two more chances for redemption. Alas Fitzpatrick took too much out of the ball just thirty yards out with a teammate steaming in off her left shoulder. Then the impressive Wicklow keeper pulled off another great save after great interplay between Galvin, Mo Nerney and Tarpey. At the final whistle the hosts were left celebrating their first win of the campaign when a draw would have been a fairer result.

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For the ‘Garden County’ ladies Fox and Kealy were the pick of their forwards. Gilbert was superb between the sticks for Wicklow. Indeed if she works on her kick outs she’d be one of the best in the business. For Laois Amy Potts, Sinead Farrelly, Laura Nerney and Fiona Dooley shone at the back at times against the electric duo of Fox and Kealy. Sinead O’Rourke did well in goals and stood no chance for either goal. Nerney also did well in attack as well and took her brace of points really well. Up front Leah Tarpey and Aoife Kirrane combined well and caught the eye. However the Laois People ‘Player of the Match’ award goes to Wicklow’s Marie Kealy.

LAOIS SCORERS

Scorers: Aoife Kirrane and Leah Tarpey 0-3, Mo Nerney 1-0, Sarah Anne Fitzgerald 0-2 frees, Laura Nerney 0-2, Anna Healy 0-1 free. 

Laois Team:

Sinead O’Rourke; Amy Potts, Jenny McEvoy, Kate Jacob, Sinead Farrelly, Laura Nerney, Sarah Larkin; Fiona Dooley, Anna Healy; Andrea Moran, Leah Tarpey, Orla Hennessy; Aoife Kirrane, Sarah Ann Fitzgerald, Alannah Havill. Subs: Erone Fitzpatrick for Moran (40), Aimee Kelly for Larkin (43), Rebecca Balfe for McEvoy (43), Eva Galvin for Havill (46), Mo Nerney for Fitzgerald (53), Jane Moore for Dooley (59)

WICKLOW SCORERS

Scorers: Marie Kealy 2-5 (0-2f), Clodagh Fox 0-3, Sinead McGettigan 0-1

Wicklow Team:

Loretta Gilbert; Lucy Dunne, Sarah Jane Winders, Jackie Byrne; Aoife Gillen, Paula Faulkner, Lorna Fusciardi; Niamh McGettigan, Sarah Delahunt; Amy Burke, Katie Lawless, Helena Dowling; Clodagh Fox, Marie Kealy, Ciara O’Brien. Subs: Tara Costello for Gillen (HT), Megan Heaney for Lawless (HT), Sinead McGettigan for Burke (38), Sarah Hogan for Dunne (41), Rioghna McGettigan for Delahunt (44).

Referee: Patrick Smith (Waterford)