AN AOIFE Gorey goal saw the Kilkenny ladies Gaelic footballers claim their first points of the National Football League in a thriller in Tinryland.
The game opened at a frantic pace, with Kilkenny going on the attack in the early minutes, but it was the hosts who began the scoring through Sinead Ruth’s opening point. Undeterred, Kilkenny were in front by the fourth minute thanks to a well-taken goal from Miriam Maher.
Awarded a free for a foul on Sara Hennessy, Yvonne McGrath launched the ball into the danger area. As Carlow attempted to repel the attack Maher pounced on the loose ball, rattling the net to give Kilkenny a two-point lead.
It didn’t take Carlow long to bounce back. Leah Mullins, who was proving a handful up front, converted a tenth minute free before Sinead Ruth levelled matters with a well-taken point from 30 metres.
Kilkenny upped the tempo and, putting Carlow under severe pressure, went back in front courtesy of an Yvonne McGrath free midway through the half. McGrath increased the lead even further when, via another free, she unleashed a sweet shot that curled to the top left corner of the Carlow net (2-1 to 0-3).
Kilkenny were on a roll now, and added to their advantage when McGrath pointed another free. Carlow needed a score badly, but Kilkenny netminder Aine Sheehy frustrated the hosts when she stopped Sinead Doyle’s pile-driver from 14 metres, then cleared her lines again after Leah Mullins dropped a long range free into a crowded goalmouth.
Doyle, Mullins and Sinead Ruth looked dangerous in attack for Carlow but met stern resistance in Jamie O’Sullivan, Sally Teehan and Emer Roantree in the Kilkenny full-back line. Staying solid at the back Kilkenny began to create more scoring chances. A foul on the marauding Martina Maher gave Yvonne McGrath the chance to convert another free, before Alice Farrell’s late point ensured Kilkenny had a healty seven-point lead at the break (2-4 to 0-3).
Carlow were full of fire after the restart, and quickly began blitzing the Cats. They got off the mark thanks to points from Sinead Doyle and Leah Mullins (free) before Mullins fired a low shot to the net to bring Carlow back into contention (2-4 to 1-5).
The loss of Niamh Butler to injury forced Kilkenny to make positional changes, allowing Carlow to pin the visitors in their own half for long periods. Leah Mullins reduced the deficit to the bare minimum in the 45th minute before Elaine Ware levelled matters five minutes later.
When Edel Hayden and Pam Dowling added points in the closing minutes it looked like Carlow had pulled victory from the fire, but Kilkenny weren’t done for yet. Some late pressure paid off when Kilkenny were awarded a free on the 14 metre line in the dying seconds.
As the Carlow defence were organising themselves, Aoife Gorey stood over the free. Spotting an opening to the right, she slotted the ball low into the corner of the net to give Kilkenny a last gasp one point lead. There was no time left for Carlow to launch a final attack and as Deirdre Kearney sounded the whistle the cats had snatched a 3-4 to 1-9 win.
Having beaten Carlow, Kilkenny picked up even more League points when Derry conceded their game to the Cats. They will be in action again on March 27 when they travel to face Offaly.
Kilkenny - Aine Sheehy, Jamie O’Sullivan, Sally Teehan, Emer Roantree, Lydia Phelan, Grainne Daly, Martina Maher, Niamh Butler, Sara Hennessy, Miriam O’Keeffe, Miriam Maher (1-0), Eileen Fitzpatrick, Alice Farrell (0-1), Yvonne McGrath (1-3, frees), Aoife Gorey (1-0 free). Subs: Vivienne Forristal for Butler, Laurena Murphy for M. Maher, Niamh Whelan for Roantree, Orla McCormack for McGrath, Niamh Maher for Farrell, Lisa Carey for Hennessy.
Carlow - Tanala Kehoe, Karen Doyle, Aine Kinsella, Tierna Kehoe, Edel Hayden (0-1), Grainne Cowman, Amy Doyle, Tara Wilson, Ciara Mullins, Deirdre Tomlinson, Leah Mullins (1-3, frees), Maire Griffith, Miriam Hayden, Sinead Ruth (0-2), Sinead Doyle (0-1). Subs: Pam Dowling (0-1), Elaine Ware (0-1), Grainne Tomlinson, Caoimhe Whelan.
Referee - Deirdre Kearney (Offaly)
Forty girls have been attending under-13 and under-14 training over the past few weeks. Training continues on Sunday at St James’s Park, Kilkenny at 10.30am. All newcomers are welcome.
The Ladies Football Co Board would also welcome parents who are available to assist at underage training on Saturdays or Sundays.
County under-16 and under-18 training will be held in the Loreto on Friday (time to be confirmed). The under-16s will also have a challenge match against Wicklow on Sunday morning.