Lidl National Football League Division 3 Round 1
By Denis J. Croke
LAOIS looked assured to be on the way to victory in this their opening game in this year’s Lidl National Football League. They really should have won and new manager Donie Brennan will be concerned at the way a nine point lead was coughed up in the second half.
Even with that statistic it looked like Laois would hang on to get their Division 3 campaign off to a winning start but as it emerged in the end they were lucky to come away with the draw.
Wicklow had sparked a major revival in the second half and drew level with five minutes of normal time remaining. They were going all out for the winner but were caught as the game entered injury time and Lais’s ace scorer Mo Nerney landed the leading point.
But this Wicklow side were determined not to go home from the LOETB Centre of Excellence pointless and were rewarded when
Wicklow took an early lead through Meadhbh Deeney but Laois with a Kate Whelan. Point. Fiona Dooley gave Laois the lead and with Whelan and Mo Nerney converting free Laois looked in control
But Wicklow hit back with points from Laura Griffin and Laura Hogan to leave the gap at the minimum 13 minutes into the game.
During this period Laois goalkeeper Sinead O’Rourke denying Wicklow twice with point blank saves. At the other end a brace of Mo Nerney frees had Laois back in the driving seat. Further points from the impressive Erone Fitzpatrick and Kate Whelan (free) gave Laois a five lead with seven minutes remaining in the half.
But instead of kicking on it was Wicklow who now rose to the challenge.
Aoife Gorman kicked a point before Sinead O’Rourke was finally beaten, this time by Laura Hogan after O’Rourke had made the initial save. Laois did not panic and recorded the last two points of the half, Nerney and Whelan on target to leave Laois leading 0-10 to 1-4 at the break.
Mo Nerney and Aimee Maher swapped points on the restart before Laois got their first goal. A sweeping move ended with Kate Whelan neatly send the ball from right to the bottom left hand corner of the net.
Niamh Cullen pointed for Wicklow but Laois were on a flow that saw Mo Nerney score a point and then a goal from the Wicklow kick out when he blazed to the net.
It was now double scores with Laois holding a nine point advantage after only six minutes of the new half.
But Wicklow were to come back with a vengeance and narrow the gap to just three points over a five minute spell. Sarah Miley found the top corner of the net for a great goal. They then hit three points on the trot.
Laois settled, never panicking and hit back with three points from Kate Whelan, Mo Nerney and Emma Lawlor and surely putting Laois on the toad to victory.
But again Wicklow hit back with two Laura Hogan frees sandwiching a Niamh Cullen point from play to leave three in it. Still Laois were in the driving seat, that is until Meadhbh Deeney hit Wicklow’s third goal in the 55th minute.
Both sides now went in search of a winner and it looked like Laois had achieved that when Mo Nerney split the uprights after a determined run by Erone Fitzpatrick.
But just when it looked like victory was going to the home side Wicklow substitute Sinead McGettigan raised a white flag almost immediately to ensure the points were shared.
LAOIS: Sinead O’Rourke (St Paul’s); Ciara Hughes (Sarsfields), Laura Nerney (Foxrock-Cabinteely), Rebecca Balfe (St Paul’s); Casey Conroy (Sarsfields), Emily Mulhall (Ballyroan), Amy Potts (St Brigid’s); Fiona Dooley (0-1 Portlaoise), Eva Galvin (St Conleth’s); Caoimhe Simms (St Brigid’s), Mo Nerney (1-8; 0-6f Timahoe), Alice Walsh (Shanahoe); Kate Whelan (1-5; 0-3f Ballyroan), Erone Fitzpatrick (0-1 Park/Ratheniska), Emma Lawlor (0-1 St Paul’s).
Subs: Meaghan Dunne (Sarsfields) for Walsh (h/t), Rebecca Reddin (Portlaoise) for Mulhall (38m), Rachel Fitzgerald for Whelan (51m)
WICKLOW: Kim Connors; Emily Mulhall, Sarah Jane Winders, Jessica Nolan Byrne; Lorna Fusciadi, Niamh McGettigan, Aimee Maher (0-1); Jackie Kinch, Aoife Gorman (0-1); Amy Murphy (0-1), Laura Griffin (0-1), Sarah Miley (1-0); Laura Hogan (1-4; 0-3f), Meadhbh Deeney (1-2), Clodagh Fox.
Subs: Niamh Cullen (0-2) for Griffin (h/t), Sinead McGettigan (0-1) for Murphy (47m), Sarah Byrne for Miley (54m)
Referee: John Devlin (Galway)