In a remarkable day for the Sarsfields, their Intermediate squad completed a unique Senior/ Intermediate Championship double in Laois Ladies Football with a comprehensive victory over Graiguecullen on Saturday in Ratheniska.
Having wrestled the Senior title from Timahoe in the previous game Sarsfields’ second string, last year’s Junior champions, took on and defeated a promising Graiguecullen outfit in the Intermediate decider.
The Carlow border side started confidently and were first out of the blocks with a point from Mary Ann Doogue after four minutes. They dominated the early exchanges but failed to convert chances and were unable to press home their advantage.
In one attack, soccer star Kylie Murphy waltzed through the Sarsfields defence unheeded but was denied by a brilliant save from keeper Ciara O’Loughlin. This seemed to have a deflationary effect on the green and reds and Sarsfields lifted the siege and gradually gained the upper hand.
The blues claimed the next four scores, a goal and a point from Lauren Kearney and a point each from Laura Peake and Olwyn Farrell, to put a very different complexion on the scoreboard after twelve minutes.
A Mary Ann Doogue free steadied the ship briefly for Graigue but when Rosemarie Bermingham set up Roisin Poole for another Sarsfields goal which was deflected past goalie Tracie Scully on twenty minutes, Graigue found themselves trailing by 2-3 to 0-2.
Kylie Murphy did claw back an excellent point but Sarsfields finished the half strongly with points from Bermingham, Peake and the impressive Lorna O’Sullivan. Another Murphy point for the Barrowsiders left the half time score at Sarsfields 2-7 Graigue 0-4.
The second half brought little respite for Graiguecullen as Sarsfields piled on the pressure with points from Peake (2) and Bermingham to leave their opponents with a mountain to climb. Essmay Mannix provided her team with some light at the end of the tunnel as she picked up a sublime pass from Sinead Doogue to finish into the corner of the Sarsfields net in the 7th minute.
It was to prove a false dawn however as Sarsfields, despite a sin-binning, continued to push forward searching for more. Their defence, which was brilliantly marshalled by captain Lisa O’Reilly, ably assisted by Roisin Dunne, Chloe Dunne and Amy Loughman, took complete control and cut off all avenues to Ciara O’Loughlin goal. The Mannix goal was to be last score of the game for Graigue who as a team, despite the odds, fought gamely until the end.
Goalkeeper Tracie Scully was excellent throughout and got good cover from Ciara Corcoran, Susan Quigley, Evelyn Smith and Laura Byrne. Midfielder Mary Ann Doogue was very impressive and chipped in with two points. Up front Kylie Murphy posed the biggest threat but generally found it difficult against a solid Sarsfields rearguard. Others to shine were Sinead Doogue, Mary Jo Hurley and Essmay Mannix.
For Sarsfields it was a wonderful climax to a remarkable afternoon as their young side performed magnificently when the questions were asked and delivered a unique double victory for the Club on Laois County Final Day. Sarsfields now go forward to represent the Laois in the Leinster Intermediate Club Championship in the first weekend in October.
Scorers: Sarsfields: Lorna O’Sullivan 1-2; Laura Peake 0-4; Lauren Kearney 1-1; Rosemary Bermingham 0-3; Roisin Poole 1-0; Mary Keating 0-2; Amy Coss 0-1; Olwyn Farrell 0-1f. Graiguecullen: Essmay Mannix 1-0; Kylie Murphy 0-2; Mary Ann Doogue 0-2 (0-1f);
SARSFIELDS: Ciara O’Loughlin; Daphne Behan, Roisin Dunne, Aoife Wisely; Chloe Dunne, Lisa O’Reilly, Amy Loughman; Laura Peake, Olwyn Farrell (0-1f); Mary Keating, Lorna O’Sullivan, Lauren Kearney; Roisin Poole, Rosemary Bermingham, Niamh Williams. Subs: Anne Hyland for Wisely (H/T), Becky Williams for N. Williams (37mins), Amy Coss for Peake (42mins), Niamh Allen for Poole (50mins), Ruth Williams for O’Sullivan (55mins)
GRAIGUECULLEN: Tracie Scully; Ciara Corcoran, Susan Quigley, Clara Hayden; Evelyn Smith, Laura Byrne, Sarah Kearns; Mary Ann Doogue, Mary Patricia Kearns; Lauren Walsh, Sinead Doogue, Mary Jo Hurley; Kylie Murphy, Maggie Doogue, Essmay Mannix. Subs: Rachel Mulholland for Hayden (20mins, inj), Megan Walsh for Kearns (33mins), Lisa Dooley for Walsh (55mins)
Referee: Niall McCormack (O’Dempsey’s)