Louth 4:12 Wicklow 2:14 (AET)
Louth secured their place in the Leinster Minor C Championship Final a thrilling win over Wicklow on Saturday (27th April) in Clan Na Gael Park, Dundalk. Extra time was required to decide the outcome with Louth emerging four point winners to set up a Leinster final meeting with Wexford on May 11th.
Played in cold, blustery conditions Wicklow took an early lead courtesy of a Sinead McGettigan point after four minutes. The lead was wiped out in the sixth minute as a quickly taken free by Lee Lawlor was picked up by Niamh Rice and the Louth captain’s well struck shot nestled in the net despite the efforts of keeper Amy Kavanagh to keep it out.
Roisin Crowe added a point before St. Bride’s star Kodie McEneaney had the home side’s second goal with a terrific shot from 25 metres.
Points from McGettigan and Niamh Caffrey kept the visitors in touch before they got a major boost midway through the half when impressive midfielder Amy Maher burst through the Louth backline and her low shot found the net, giving Emma McDonald no chance.
The response from the young Reds was instant as Sarah Morgan went on a strong run and her inch perfect pass found Lee Lawlor who rattled a wonderful shot to the net to leave the home side 3-2 to 1-3 in front.
Both sides added to their tally with Maher and Caffrey raising white flags and Rice and Cara McKeever replying with similar scores for Louth as the hosts led by 3-4 to 1-5 at the interval.
Wicklow resumed in determined fashion with three early points and while Grace Treanor replied with a similar score for Louth, the Garden County were level in the thirty ninth minute when substitute Sive Byrne’s shot found its way into the corner of the Louth net, 3-5 to 2-8. McEneaney and Stafford traded scores and when needed most Louth Captain Niamh Rice hit two fine scores to leave the host’s ahead two ahead with just five minutes left.
Wicklow had a let off moments later as Rice appeared to have been fouled as she prepared to shoot, but to the dismay of the large home following, referee McKitterick waved away the Louth appeals.
The visitors made the most of their good fortune as impressive midfielder Sinead McGettigan was on target twice from frees to ensure that it would take extra-time to separate these evenly matched teams.
Louth got the boost of an early goal in extra time when Rice’s high centre found Ellen Carolan and the St. Mary’s player crashed an unstoppable shot past the Wicklow net-minder into the net off a post. Rice and Caffrey then exchanged points to leave Louth 4-9 to 2-12 in front at the turnover.
The home side almost put the game beyond Wicklow on the resumption as a brilliant pass by sub Lana Devine put Rice in on goal and the Cooley player was most unlucky to see her shot kept out by the post. After Rice and McGettigan had swapped points, Louth then hit two points inside a minute from the Clan Na Gael duo of McKeever and Lawlor to finally kill off the brave Wicklow resistance.
Louth manager Chris Doyle was pleased with how his team performed: “It was a very good all round performance, everyone did what was asked of them. There was no concern going into extra time, we just emphasised the need to move the ball a little faster and we knew we had the forwards to get the scores and also player’s to come on and make an impact.
Wexford in the final, I fully expect to be another very close encounter, we played them at U16 level two years ago and it was extremely close. The support we had today was fantastic and helped drive the team on, and it is something all involved with the team really appreciated, and it will be great to get such backing again in the final”, concluded the Clan Na Gael clubman.
Louth: Emma McDonald; Meabh Hickey, Holly Lambe Sally, Aoife McDaid, Katie Matthews, Katelyn Quinn Leah Hoey, Grace Treanor (0-1), Ciara Quinn (0-1) Kodie McEneaney (1-1), Sarah Morgan, Cara McKeever (0-2), Roisin Crowe (0-1), Niamh Rice (1-5), Lee Lawlor (1-1)
Subs: Ava Kieran, Katie McArdle, Ellen Carolan (1-0)
Wicklow: Amy Kavanagh; Ava Carter, Aisling Winterbottom, Aoife Dunne; Keelan Kavanagh, Emily Hannafin, Sarah Evans; Amy Maher (1-1), Sinead McGettigan (0-7); Emer McNulty, Emma Katus, Lauren Byrne; Kerry Anne Hamilton, Niamh Caffrey (0-5), Keelan Stafford (0-1)
Subs: Robyn Evans, Sive Byrne (1-0), Beccy Molloy, Megan Quigley, Amy McManus
Referee, David McGoldrick (Dublin)
Report by Dermot Woods | Photos from Ciaran Culligan