THE ‘perfect performance’ was the only way to describe Kilkenny’s display as the county’s under-14 girls’ team ran riot against Louth in the Leinster league/championship.
The Kittens hit the ground running in Thomastown on Saturday, racking up 3-3 inside 10 minutes through Ria Lawson, Ciara Delaney and Becky Walsh to leave the girls from the Wee County shellshocked.
The hosts played a smart game, making use of the wind to play the ball long to a forward line who took their chances. Caoimhe O’Shea hit the net twice in quick succession while Danielle Morrissey and Allie O’Keeffe followed suit to put the game beyond Louth by the 20th minute. A string of points followed from Ciara Delaney, Becky Walsh, Aoife Cantwell and Caoimhe O’Shea followed before backs Aobha O’Gorman and Lauren Valentine added their names to the scoresheet.
Niamh Deely and Michelle Teehan pulled the strings at midfield, setting up several scores for the sharp-shooting forwards. Louth battled throughout, but could not breach a solid Kilkenny defence.
Despite an insurmountable margin the visitors kept the tempo up in the second half. They had three great goal attempts, but saves from Niamh Sheehy only added to Louth’s misery. Ailish O’Shea and Sophie O’Dwyer got their names to the scoresheet while Ciara Delaney’s pointed free bought her tally to 2-7.
With Offaly on maximum points from four games the Midlanders should face Westmeath in the A final. Kilkenny were unlucky to lose by a single point to Westmeath, but wins over Longford and Louth sees the Cats in third spot, a place they will retain if they beat Carlow in the final qualifying game on April 28. A win against Carlow will guarantee Kilkenny a place in the Leinster B final on May 13 and a possible rematch with Longford, who lost to Kilkenny in round one.
Kilkenny - Niamh Sheehy, Laura Tynan, Lauren Valentine, Neasa Galwey, Emily McCarthy, Eadaoin Murphy, Aobha O’Gorman, Michelle Teehan, Niamh Deely, Aoife Cantwell, Danielle Morrissey, Jenny O’Keeffe, Becky Walsh, Ciara Delaney, Caoimhe O’Shea, Ria Lawson, Blainead Galwey, Allie O’Keeffe, Ailish O’Shea, Sophie O’Dwyer, Aoife Naddy, Ava Comerford.
The first provincial under-14 blitz of the year will be held on May 7 in Carlow and will feature two Kilkenny panels. The under-14 B squad played a challenge match recently against Clonmel, securing a big win and some valuable experience for the girls before the Leinster blitz. The A team will also travel to Kinnegad on May 19 for the All-Ireland under-14 blitz.
The Leinster under-12 blitz of the year will be held on June 4 in Carlow. The girls, who will begin training in the coming weeks, will be aiming to retain the cup they won last year in dramatic fashion after a shoot-out with neighbours Carlow.
An enjoyable morning of football was held in Thomastown before Saturday’s under-14 championship match, as six teams played in the first girls’ under-12 blitz of 2012. Teams from Piltown, Barrow Gaels, Thomastown and Kilkenny City played non-stop football in glorious sunshine and are already looking forward to the next blitz day which will be held on May 12 for under-12 and under-14 teams.
A series of underage blitzes are planned for the coming months to continue the development of underage football for girls. Castlecomer and Muckalee recently held registration days with a view to playing in the May blitz, as will Freshford at under-14 level. The blitz teams were:
Piltown - Máire Beth Kirby, Lisa Norris, Megan Byrne, Alanna Gallagher, Aoife Doyle, Sophie Holden, Caoimhe O’Callaghan.
Barrow Gaels - Emma Fox, Kate Drennan, Elise Holden, Darcy Bolger, Aoife Cleere, Laura Hackett, Aoife Moore, Dearbhail Kelly, Eimear O’Shea, Sinead Lanigan.
Thomastown Pink - Maddie Lawson, Ruth Ryan, Emily Hughes, Ciara O’Keeffe, Ciara Prendergast, Jessie Murphy, Eimear Naddy, Lizzy Buckley, Peig Carrigan, Aoife Corr.
Thomastown Blue - Erin Barcoe, Ciara Mason, Derbhail O’Keeffe, Georgia Barcoe, Eva Hynes, Jessie Maher, Nicole Dunne, Laoise Fennelly Hunt, Caoimhe Kelly.
Kilkenny City I - Shauna Valentine, Rebecca Roche, Claire Curtin, Emma Nolan, Aoibheann Power, Brid Walsh, Elizabeth O’Shea, Holly Smith, Kate Dempsey.
Kilkenny City II - Ciara Deeley, Rachel Kelly, Hannah Kelly, Catriona Gough, Sarah Smith, Alison Smith, Nicole Carter, Eimear O’Reilly.