Seniors secure second championship win

Simonstown vs Na Fianna
Venue: Simonstown
Weather watch: Ideal conditions
Half time score: Simonstown 4.09 Na Fianna 1-4
Full time: Simonstown 6.14 Na Fianna 1-10
Date: 16th May 2018
Ref: John Kavanagh

The Simonstown senior ladies got their second successive win in the Meath Senior ladies championship in perfect conditions, in Simonstown, on Wednesday night last. Having got their championship campaign off to a fine start against Seneschalstown the previous week Simonstown arrived into this fixture feeling confident but also wary of opponents who had seen off Oldcastle in their first round fixture. The home side had their first score literally fromthe throw in as Lauryn Grier gathered possession from an Aisling Cassidy knockdown and sprinted fifty metres and fired over. The lively Deirdre Flynn at full forward for Na Fianna responded with a point of her own after a flowing the length of the field. Simonstown responded with lightning speed. Niamh Lister won Naoise de Graaffe’s kickout. The ball ended up with midfielder Aisling Cassidy. She offloaded to full forward Kelsey Nesbitt who burst clear of her marker and fired over.

The scores were coming quick and fast at this stage. Centre back Aideen Slattery made a surging run up the field and found Leah Devine who in turn located Niamh Mulvihill who fired over. At this stage there was little between the teams but Simonstown were about to up the ante considerably. Tara Berrigan pointed after great approach play by sisters Emma and Aisling Cassidy. Next Niamh Cassidy dispossessed wing back Aisling Byrne she fed Ailbhe McHugh who found Grier free in space and Lauryn found the range again. Kelsey Nesbitt almost goaled immediately after but was perhaps unlucky not to get a free as she bore down on goal.

Left corner forward Jackie Shiels was enjoying a right tussle with Clare Coffey and she won possession next, feeding Berrigan who let fly from long range to further extend Simonstown’s lead. Five points to two.

Kelly Harris had racked up a huge personal score against Seneschalstown. She was the next to put her name on the scoreboard twisting and turning past sweeper Maeve Downey before rifling over. With Downey dropping back Na Fianna were winning plenty of their kickouts but were being put under enormous pressure, as they tried to emerge, by Simonstown’s forward unit. Berrigan robbed Aine Kirby from one such foray and the ball ended with Grier who fired over.

Na Fianna had defeated county champions Oldcastle in their previous game. They showed that despite falling behind they weren’t about to roll over. They responded with a terrific goal from full forward Flynn from the tightest of angles after fine approach play by Shauna Ennis. But this rollercoaster half continued with the Navan girls getting their own first goal in their next attack. Aisling Sheridan collected a short kickout. Emma Cassidy and Niamh Lister combined to set up Berrigan . Her long ball over the top found Shiels who stole in behind the Na Fianna defence to bury her shot to the net. The next score from Simsonstown, also a goal, was straight from the playbook and involved seven players before Harris’s final ball found Nesbitt who sidestepped keeper Niamh Geraghty and finished to the net with a goal (and a sore ankle!). Na Fianna got a point back from a free.

Naoise de Graaff was enjoying a good return from her kickouts and was finding her targets repeatedly. Niamh Lister and Aisling Cassidy were winning the majority of these but encouragingly every defender was making themselves available should the need arise. Karen Foran helped set up the next attack after she dispossessed Leah Devine and a minute later Jackie Shiels was punching the ball to the net.

In fairness to Na Fianna wingback Aideen Slattery, midfielder Aine Kirby and forwards Flynn and Maire Kirby were keeping their team in proceedings but time and again their attacks were breaking down. For Simonstown’s next score Niamh Lister was the dispossessor. Tara Berrigan was getting herself into fantastic positions but was unlucky on a few occasions in the first half with some of her goal attempts. There was no denying that the Navan girls were now enjoying a serious purple patch. Lister won the next kickout and offloaded to wingback Aoife Farrell. Six passes later and Grier had tapped over her fourth point.

Jackie Shiels has been more used to touching down for tries in recent years than hitting the net. She does both well and she made it a hat trick of goals with the half time bell almost approaching as she fired home a rebound from Harris’ shot.
Ailbhe McHugh had been on the creative end of many of these first half scores but she decided to get in on the act herself just before the break taking a pass from Nesbitt and finding the range. At the other end Na Fianna got a point after Shiels was deemed to have fouled Aine Kirby. Unfortunately, just before the break Kelsey suffered a bad fall as she attempted to take a pass from Katie Bellew. Mollie Byrne entered the fray. Simonstown went in at the break 4.09 to 1.04 to the good.

In the second half Simonstown struggled to maintain the same intensity levels they had shown in the first but they still outscored their opponents. Corner forward Erin Leddy was a handful throughout and she was one of the Na Fianna players trying to drag her team back into proceedings. Likewise, Shauna Ennis was trying to inject life into her side’s chances but she was being kept under very close surveillance by Lister. The next two points came from Leddy and Ennis.

Simonstown’s first second half goal was another flowing move. Farrell, Lister, McHugh Niamh Sheridan and Byrne all involved before Byrne picked out Grier with a super pass which was duly dispatched to the net. Ailbhe was then unlucky to see an ambitious long range effort hit the upright but made up for it a minute later with an over. Deirdre Flynn kept the scoreboard ticking over for the south Meath girls with a good point. Aine Kirby then took advantage of a misplaced kick from defence to add another score for her team.

Simonstown had not been as clinical in the second half as the first. Nevertheless, when Harris’ next effort for a point hit both uprights and dropped down to Shiels she made no mistake from a tight angle on her left peg. Kirby tagged on another well taken long range effort. Tara Berrigan then pointed after a move set up by Regina Hand and then Niamh Lister and Kelly Harris hit two points from opposite sides of the goal to ensure that Na Fianna were being kept at a safe distance. Simonstown’s final goal came from the foot of Tara Berrigan as she rounded keeper Geraghty and fired to the net after a sweet pass from Lauryn Grier.

In the end Simonstown ran out comfortable winners. All in all this was a very satisfying win for the girls. As a unit the girls performed well and showed good patience under pressure. However, there will also have been areas to be improved on. There is now a considerable break until the next championship match (start of July). In the meantime the girls have league matches and Masita Cup games to play. Nevertheless, for now they will be happy to have secured maximum points from the two championship games thus far but will know that tougher battles lie ahead.

Simonstown: Naoise de Graaff, Karen Foran, Katie Bellew, Aisling Sheridan, Emma Cassidy, Niamh Lister, Aoife Farrell, Aisling Cassidy, Niamh Cassidy, Lauryn Grier (1-04) Kelly Harris (0-3), Ailbhe McHugh (0-2), Jackie Shiels (3-1), Kelsey Nesbitt (1-1), Tara Berrigan (1-3) Subs: Niamh Sheridan, Paula Fitzgerald, Mollie Byrne, Eve Wardick, Leanne Harris, Shona Lister, Regina Hand

Na Fianna: Niamh Geraghty, Hazel O’Reilly, Clare Coffey, Andrea Colgan, Aisling Byrne, Aideen Slattery, Sarah Ennis, Aine Kirby, Leah Devine, Niamh Mulvihill, Shauna Ennis, Maire Kirby, Maeve Downey, Deirdre Flynn, Erin Leddy

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