AGB 4-6 Tinahely 1-13
AGB ladies took on Tinahely in the semi-final of the Senior Football Championship sporting their new jerseys kindly sponsored by Kenny’s of the Harbour Bar, in Annacurra on Saturday August 23rd 2014.
Having defeated Blessington and having lost by a point to Baltinglass in the earlier rounds, the Arklow girls were determined to acquit themselves well in this encounter.
Tinahely, who topped their group beating St. Pat’s and Bray, made the stronger start with three early points from the boot of Rachel Byrne in the no. 13 jersey and a fourth from Ciara Byrne, before Jessie Hurley opened the scoring for AGB with a point in the sixth minute. Annie Conroy levelled matters with a super goal in the eighth minute.
As both teams attempted to settle into their stride the hard-working Rachel Byrne pointed again for Tinahely in the tenth minute and AGB’s Áine O’Reilly restored the balance in the twelfth. Jackie Kinch scored a great long range point to put Tinahely back in front in the eighteenth minute but Áine O’Reilly got on the end of a low pass from Niamh Arthur and converted the chance to level matters for the third time.
It was nip and tuck with a battle royal between Jackie Kinch and Áine Byrne at mid-field for Tinahely and Ailbhe Carney and Sue Tyrrell for AGB. Disaster struck for AGB as Sue Tyrrell injured her knee and was unable to continue. She was replaced by Georgina Canavan who, despite being below par due to a recent illness, still managed to feed quality ball to the Arklow forward line with her trade mark accuracy.
Tinahely added two more points to stretch ahead in the twenty first and the twenty fifth minutes through Jessie Byrne and Laura Hogan. Four of the Tinahely forwards had now scored and the Arklow back line had to work extremely hard to repel the constant attacks.
Led by Jessie McElheron and with the experienced hands of Áine Byrne at full back, Arklow held firm from the twenty fifth minute to the half-time whistle. At the other end after a patient sequence of play involving Ailbhe Carney and Caitriona Byrne, Niamh Arthur powered through the Tinahely defence and scored a third goal for the Arklow side. She followed this with a point and an injury time goal from Jessie Hurley left six points between the sides at the break, with Arklow leading 3-5 to 0-8.
As you would expect from reigning county champions, Tinahely made a very determined start to the second half. Ciara Byrne, Jackie Kinch and Aoife O’Gorman tacked on three points to narrow the deficit and there followed a period of intense pressure in which the Arklow backs struggled to cope with the marauding Tinahely forwards. Such was the strength of the attacks that a penalty was conceded for what referee Anthony Nolan judged to be an unfair tackle in front of goal.
Jackie Kinch stepped up to take the kick and struck the crossbar, not once but twice, as she attempted to convert the rebound. Inspired by their good fortune at this very narrow escape AGB advanced up the field. Annie Conroy carried the ball into the danger area and gave an inch perfect pass to Caitriona Byrne in front of goal.
Byrne made no mistake and rattled the Tinahely net to restore AGB’s six point advantage in one fell swoop, and it must be said, against the run of play. The county champions refused to give in and four minutes later Loretta Gilbert scored Tinahely’s only goal of the match with a super strike that gave Linda Dempsey no chance in the Arklow goal.
Three points the margin once again in this thrilling encounter. As nerves jangled on the sidelines, the girls continued to battle on both sides. Jackie Kinch narrowed the Arklow lead to two with a point in the twenty-ninth minute but Steph Martin pointed for Arklow in the final minute of the contest. An injury time point from the boot of Tinahely’s Ciara Byrne was to be the last score of the game. The six point cushion at half time proved vital to Arklow’s success on this occasion and it is, no doubt, with a great sigh of relief that they put this one behind them and prepare for the final against Baltinglass on September 7th.
Outstanding performances were the order of the day for both teams. Jackie Kinch, Loretta Gilbert, Ciara Byrne, Rachel Byrne, Laura Hogan and Jessie Byrne were all in top form for Tinahely and great credit to Aoife Gorman for her excellent efforts on behalf of the county champions.
Ailbhe Carney, Áine Byrne, Kirsty Hughes, Caitriona Byrne, Jessie Hurley, Ciara Forde, Annie Conroy and Áine O’Reilly were outstanding for AGB. Niamh Arthur up front and Eimear O’Brien in the back line were also very much on form for the Arklow ladies. Sue Tyrrell is a worry for AGB going forward and we wish her a speedy recovery but hopes are high that the injured Christine Byrne may be fit in time for the final. This was a super effort from two hard working teams and great entertainment for the considerable number of spectators that turned out to support them. The final score was AGB 4-6 Tinahely 1-13.
AGB: Linda Dempsey, Kirsty Hughes, Áine Byrne, Katie Larkin, Ciara Forde, Eimear O’Brien, Jessie McElheron, Ailbhe Carney, Sue Tyrrell, Annie Conroy(1-0), Caitriona Byrne(1-0), Jessie Hurley(1-1), Áine O’Reilly(0-3), Niamh Arthur(1-1), Steph Martin(0-1) Subs: Georgina Canavan for Sue Tyrrell, Rachael Byrne for Katie Larkin, Orla Byrne for Georgina Canavan, Vicky O’Brien, Becky Condren, Emma Furlong, Róisín O’Reilly.
Tinahely: Louise O’Neill, Kate Hatton, Sarah Hogan, Emily Mulhall, Ciara Stokes, Sinéad Byrne, Áine O’Keeffe, Jackie Kinch (0-3), Áine Byrne, Aoife Gorman(0-1), Loretta Gilbert (1-0), Ciara Byrne(0-3), Rachael Byrne (0-4), Laura Hogan(0-1), Jessie Byrne(0-1).