Playing under Friday night lights might be a novelty in Kilkenny soccer, but Tullaroan’s ladies dazzled their way to three league points.
The defending women’s champions maintained their 100% record, but didn’t have it all their own way in Piltown on a chilly Friday night.
The hosts may have fielded a young side but they showed no fear when pitted against older and more experienced opponents.
With that in mind you could almost hear the sigh of relief from the league leaders when they finally broke the deadlock 10 minutes into the second half.
Having been frustrated in front of goal- thanks to inspired performances from keeper Holly O’Shea and defender Siobhan Quinn - Tullaroan finally found a gap to exploit.
Maggie O’Dea laid the foundation with a teasing floating ball from inside halfway on the left. The ball sailed over the home defence towards Breda O’Neill, who outmuscled her marker and held on to the ball long enough to strike a low shot beyond O’Shea.
The goal was a reward for Tullaroan, who took the game to their rivals from the off. They had a great chance to go in front after just six minutes, when Irene Guilfoyle’s excellent pass sent Orla McCormack racing through, but Holly O’Shea dashed from her line to deflect the ball to safety. The danger wasn’t fully averted, as Sinead Burke recovered play and whipped in a teasing cross, but the inrushing Guilfoyle could only sidefoot wide.
O’Shea and defender Siobhan Quinn were kept busy in that first half, the duo frustrating Tullaroan time and again. Quinn made a brilliant tackle to deny Breda O’Neill a ninth minute goal, while O’Shea raced out to smother the ball after O’Neill dashed on to McCormack’s looping through ball.
Tullaroan kept forcing the issue, with Breda O’Neill leading the charge, but they found it tough to beat O’Shea. And, when they did get the ball past the netminder, luck wasn’t on their side. Released by Jemma Komar’s excellent centred pass Orla McCormack sped on and drilled a low shot beyond O’Shea, but her celebrations were cut short when the ball smacked off the post, giving Siobhan Quinn time to clear.
With their defence leading the way Piltown - who also had strong performances from Katelyn Phelan and Kate Connors - grew in confidence. They had a great chance to turn that into a lead goal on 48 minutes, when Elaine Kenny’s great ball gave Sarah Murphy time to run at the posts, but Maggie O’Dea made a timely challenge to deny a clean strike.
With Tullaroan finally making good on their pressure through Breda O’Neill’s opening goal, it wasn’t a surprise to see them hunt for more.
Eimear Guilfoyle tested Holly O’Shea with a snapshot on the hour while Sinead Burke also had a chance, getting on the end of O’Neill’s great cross but she could only aim her shot straight at the netminder.
They made good on those attempts when O’Neill doubled her and Tullaroan’s tally in the 66th minute. Racing on to Jemma Komar’s defence-splitting pass, O’Neill bore down on goal and coolly steered her low shot past O’Shea.
The league leaders made sure of the spoils when they grabbed a third goal 17 minutes from time. Orla McCormack was the provider, firing in a corner that came off a Piltown defender before Jemma Komar followed up with a brave header to settle the game.
Piltown: Holly O’Shea, Katelyn Phelan (Zoe Lynch, 54 mins; Claire Flanagan for Lynch, 68 mins), Kate Connors, Dawn Kehoe, Robyn Oakey, Siobhan Quinn, Ruth Walsh, Sarah Murphy, Elaine Kenny, Sinead McCarthy, Stephanie Falconer.
Tullaroan: Trish Mullally, Joanne Walsh (Nicola Ryan, 85 mins), Maggie O’Dea (Cathy Kelly, 85 mins), Edel Harding, Ann-Marie O’Neill, Jemma Komar, Sinead Burke, Irene Guilfoyle, Breda O’Neill, Orla McCormack, Eimear Guilfoyle (Angie Coughlan, 77 mins).
Referee: Ollie Falsey.