Wicklow senior ladies manager James Kelly has praised the ‘outstanding work-rate and performance’ of his team following their victory over Kildare on Saturday afternoon.
Kelly’s side came away with their second win in three league games when they beat Kildare in a dramatic and tense clash in Dunlavin, with Laura Hogan bagging a last-minute goal to seal the points.
Reflecting on the game, Kelly said that their second-half performance — during which Meadbh Deeney and captain Niamh McGettigan were sin-binned — was a testament to the hard-work that his side had put in both on-and-off the field so far this season.
“We knew Kildare were going to hit us hard. They hit us with everything, but we stood the test of time with it,” Kelly told WicklowNews.
“The sin-bins didn’t help but we’re the kind of team that, when our backs are against the wall, we kick the wall in. The workrate and the performance was outstanding. There are a few things we have to work on after the game. We have a week until Sligo, and that is the primary focus right now.”
Despite being reduced to 13 players following the two sin-bins, Kelly said that desperation never threatened to set in for his side, rather that the composure that they approached the final stages of the game with was exhibited by the final goal.
“The kind of girls we have on the field are very composed. You saw at the very end with the goal from Laura Hogan. That takes composure, skill, and a quick-thinking football brain. She’s got that. That’s what happens when you give Laura Hogan the ball that close in with the goalkeeper rushing out, she just lifts the ball over her head.
“We knew we had to make a few changes [following the sin-bins]. It was great to have Jackie back out on the field, but we have other girls like Áine Byrne, Tara Costello, just to name a few. We have 26 girls chomping at the bit for starting places. We have excellent strength in depth in the squad.”
Kelly reserved special praise for his team’s defence, which had to be solid to keep Kildare from scoring a potentially fatal goal in the closing stages.
“It was outstanding. We have leaked goals. I think we have leaked seven goals in two games so it was one point we wanted to set right today, and that was to keep a clean sheet.
“The girls stepped up to the challenge. They were tested, tested, and tested, and didn’t cave. I think that is a great testament to the work that they are doing, both on the field and away from the field,” he said.
The Wicklow senior lady footballers’ next game comes next Sunday, the 3rd of March, when they travel to a Sligo side that claimed their first win of the season away to Down this past Saturday.