Moloney makes her return as Tipp get off to winning start
LADIES FOOTBALL: LIDL National League Division 2 Round 1
Report: Shane Brophy at Fethard Town Park
Player of the Match: Sarah Dillon (Westmeath)
SCORERS – Tipperary: Aisling Moloney 0-7 (6 frees); Anna Rose Kennedy 1-1; Neassa Towey 0-2; Ava Fennessy, Clara English, Cliona O’Dwyer 0-1 each.
Westmeath: Sarah Dillon 0-8 (3 frees); Anna Jones 1-0; Rachel Dillon 0-2; Lucy McCartan 0-1.
Injury time points from Cliona O’Dwyer and the returning Aisling Moloney helped Tipperary to an opening round win over Westmeath in the National Football League on Sunday.
It was a victory Tipperary just about deserved as they created the most chances but their wastefulness, particularly in the first half, gave Westmeath traction, including conceding a very soft goal which helped the Midlander’s a two-point half time lead.
With the elements behind them, it took Tipp until the 48th minute to hit the front through a superb Anna Rose Kennedy goal. However, Westmeath dug in and with Sarah Dillon outstanding at corner forward with five of her eight points coming from play, however, a late missed free would prove costly as Tipp claimed a hard-earned win in what is a very open division 2.
With the difficult pitch conditions at the moment, Tipperary Ladies Football were fortunate to call on the impressive new facilities at Fethard Town Park to host the game and unlike many other matches over the weekend played in heavy conditions, both Tipp and Westmeath would have welcomed playing on a pristine all-weather surface which led to a pretty fast-paced game with both sides comfortable on the ball, with the visitors particularly effective on the counter-attack.
Tipp will be happy to have gotten the win but will hope for more sharpening up as they had a lot of the ball, particularly dominating the midfield when they forced the Westmeath kickout to go long with Anna Rose Kennedy and Niamh Martin to the fore. This was in contrast to Tipperary who lost very few of their own restarts.
Sarah Dillon opened the scoring in the fifth minute for the visitors and after debutante Neassa Towey got Tipp off the mark from play, Dillon was on the mark again with a tenth minute free. The home side were putting the Westmeath kickout under pressure and one intervention led to a goal which with Niamh Martin inches wide.
Westmeath’s well-structured attack was working well for them and they opened up the field, with half forward Rachel Dillon nudging them back in front before Neassa Towey landed her second long range point.
The Lakesiders efficiency was their calling card in the opening half as Sarah Dillon pointed once more from play, responding to by Tipp’s Ava Fennessy before one of the biggest cheers of the game was Aisling Moloney slotting over her first point, a 23rd minute free, in her first game back after over eighteen months out through injury.
Moloney looked rusty but her ball-winning ability, particularly in the second half was key, while also ensuring Westmeath kept an extra player back at all times but such is her size and stature, she invariably won possession that came her way.
Sarah Dillon brought Westmeath level before they punished sloppy Tipp play in the 27th minute when an intended pass from goalkeeper Lauren Fitzpatrick to Aisling Moloney in her own defence was intercepted by Anna Jones who fired to the net.
Tipp’s response was impressive with Anna Rose Kennedy and Clara English pointing from play but Lucy McCartan had the final say in the half with a well worked score to give Westmeath a 1-6 to 0-7 half time lead.
Sarah Dillon stretched the lead with a free at the start of the second half but with Anna Rose Kennedy to the fore in midfield, Tipp began to pin Westmeath back and forced the concession of frees with Aisling Moloney converting both before she landed a monster point from play to bring the sides level on 39 minutes.
However, Westmeath responded each time to Tipp’s attacks with Sarah Dillon’s ability to drift off the shoulder to run onto a pass resulting in her latest score to nudge her side back in front.
Tipp were beginning to become a little frustrated as with plenty of the ball, with Marie Creedon particularly busy on the forty, they were struggling to turn them into shots on goal. They needed some inspiration and they got it from midfielder Anna Rose Kennedy who won possession 65 yards out and put the head down and ran hard at the Westmeath defence and ended up through on goal with her shot too hot for keeper Aoife O’Donnell to handle.
Tipp were now two points to the good but instead of pushing on, the home side sat back and Westmeath took full advantage with Sarah Dillon converting a free before her fourth point from play brought the sides level. She also cancelled out an Aisling Moloney free and going into injury time, a draw looked the most likely outcome.
That was before wing back Cliona O’Dwyer burst forward and pointed from an acute angle before Aisling Moloney sealed the win with her seventh point with the final kick of the match.
TEAMS – Tipperary: Lauren Fitzpatrick (Ballymacarbry 7); Maria Curley (Templemore, Capt 6), Laura Morrissey (Brian Borus 7), Emma Cronin (Moyle Rovers 7); Nora Martin (Sliabh na mBan 6), Lucy Spillane (Fethard 7), Cliona O’Dwyer (Brian Borus 7); Anna Rose Kennedy (Aherlow 8), Niamh Martin (Sliabh na mBan 7); Neassa Towey (Templemore 7), Marie Creedon (Thurles Sarsfields 7), Sarah Ryan (Arravale Rovers 6); Ava Fennessy (Clonmel Commercials 6), Aisling Moloney (Cahir 7), Clara English (Ardfinnan 6).
Subs: Emma Morrissey (Aherlow 6) for Ryan (40); Angela McGuigan (Eadestown, Kildare NR) for Fennessy (60+4).
Westmeath: Aoife O’Donnell (6); Muireann Scally (7), Lucy Power (6), Ayesha Roche (7); Kelly Boyce Jordan (7), Tracey Dillon (7), Chloe Kelly (6); Vicky Carr (6), Anna Jones (6); Ashley Ruane (6), Lucy McCartan (7), Rachel Dillon (7); Ciara Blundell (Capt, 6), Karen Hegarty (6), Sarah Dillon (9).
Subs: Clara Thornton (6) for T Dillon (37 inj); Megan Dowdall (6) for Blundell (43); Aoife O’Malley (6) for Hegarty (46); Kiara Giles (NR) for Blundell (60+4).
Referee: Gus Chapman (Sligo).