Simonstown ladies edge tough encounter in Dunshaughlin
Royal Gaels vs Simonstown
Div 1 League (Deferred Game)
Date: 25th April 2018
Simonstown senior ladies made a winning start to their 2018 Div 1 league campaign in Dunshaughlin on Tuesday night. This performance was a further improvement on the league final display against Dunboyne and was the perfect tonic after the disappointment of that defeat. Nevertheless, Simonstown still made life difficult for themselves on numerous occasions in this encounter. However, unlike the Dunboyne clash the girls came out on the right side of the result on this occasion and were full value for their win. In the build up to this game both sides had been heavily hit with player unavailability due to player involvement in county minor and senior panels. Nevertheless, given that game time has been about as rare as a bit of sunshine in recent months both sides were anxious to fulfil the fixture.
Kelsey Nesbitt opened the scoring for Simonstown with a point and midfielder Niamh Cassidy also slotted over early on. At the other end Royal Gaels’ forwards were proving a handful and they tagged on two points of their own. Wing forward Kelly Harris then put daylight between the sides with a smashing shot to the roof of the net that left keeper Orlaigh McLoughlin with no chance after great approach play. In fairness to the former Meath keeper she proved in this match that she still hasn’t lost it as she pulled off a string of saves-one or two of them of the breath taking variety. Alongside Harris on the half forward line Ailbhe McHugh, and Jackie Shiels were lively throughout while in the full forward line Kelsey was ably assisted by Ellie Lane and Aoife Farrell.
In midfield Aisling Cassidy and sister Niamh were shading the exchanges and this ensured a steady supply of ball into Simonstown’s lively forward line. Kelsey at full forward was proving a real handful and she fired over two more points while Ailbhe McHugh, Kelly and Regina Hand all found the range before half time with well taken efforts. Royal Gaels were also keeping their own scoreboard ticking over at the far end and they bagged another 1-04 before the interval. Just before half time Naoise de Graaff dived full length to divert a smart effort from the very capable Emma Kennedy, who was operating at full forward. It was an important save as it left Simonstown three in front at the interval, facing into a stiff breeze.
In the second half Royal Gaels were intent on reeling in the visiting side’s lead. They pressed hard. However, the Navan ladies’ defence were having a fine game. Lauren Kearney back in the side after injury showed that she had lost none of her pace of old as she got on the ball on numerous occasions. Aisling Sheridan was another returning to the senior side after a lengthy injury layoff. She proved that she hadn’t been idle during her rehabilitation as she showed her sharpness when making a number of important interceptions.
While the Dunshaughlin ladies were keeping the scoreboard ticking over, Simonstown proved that they had the firepower to keep their noses in front and further points from Nesbitt and Harris ensured they maintained their lead. However, midway through the second half Royal Gaels closed the margin significantly when they found the net. Simonstown were rattled. However, they soldiered on. With the clock ticking down it appeared as if Simonstown had done just enough to edge this encounter. Clearly the home side were not reading from the same script and with just two minutes of normal time remaining they found the net for a third time. It was a cruel blow for the Navan girls.
However, while they couldn’t find the requisite scores in the league final to claw back their opponents, here the girls were determined to find a way. A full length pitch move involving at least 6 Simonstown players found its way to Kelsey. Only ten minutes earlier she had been denied with an astonishing save from McLoughlin. However, on this occasion the former Meath keeper was left pawing at empty space as Nesbitt’s rasper of a shot hit the net and Simonstown savoured a sweet win. Mention also must go to Eve Wardick and Leanne Harris who both had a very positive impact on proceedings when introduced.
Simonstown panel: Naoise de Graaff, Karen Foran, Niamh Sheridan, Aisling Sheridan, Lauren Kearney, Emma Cassidy, Regina Hand (0-1), Aisling Cassidy, Niamh Cassidy (0-1), Kelly Harris (1-05), Jackie Shiels, Ailbhe McHugh (0-1), Aoife Farrell, Kelsey Nesbitt (1-06), Ellie Lane Subs: Eve Warick, Leanne Harris.
Royal Gaels- Orlaigh McLoughlin, Caoimhe Rooney, Gemma Donoghue, Lauren Ryan, Caitlin O’Neill, Laura Quinn, Sarah Darby, Kelly O’ Dwyer, Alannah Chalkey, Laura Murray, Maeve Scanlon, Ava O’Brien, Ciara Gorman, Emma Kennedy, Tara Ryan