Laois ladies secured their most comprehensive win of this year’s championship beating last years All-Ireland Intermediate winners Cavan in Blanchardstown on Saturday afternoon.
Cavan went into the game as favourites having effectively beaten Meath two weeks ago. Laois’ last game had been the Leinster final 6-21 to 0-4 hammering to Dublin a month previous but this qualifier presented an opportunity to redeem their season and to secure a quarter final spot which they duly did, in profound fashion.
Cavan’s Roisin Crowe won the throw up and a converted free from Claragh O’ Reilly opened up the scoring after three minutes after good play from Cavan captain Roisin O’Keeffe. This would prove to be the only time Cavan would lead in the match as Laois played some excellent football.
Laois’ first score, a superb goal from wing back Martha Kirwan in the fourth minute, was the product of tremendous team work by the O’Moore women with Martina Dunne laying it off to Kirwan who duly finished. Martina Dunne scored her first point a minute later when Tracey Lawlor took a free quickly and the Timahoe club woman converted with her lethal left boot.
Cavan fought back and kicked two unanswered points through full forward Geraldine Sheridan and corner forward Ciara Farrell. They could have edged in front but Laois goalkeeper Ciamh Dollard produced a fine save in the 10th minute to stop Claragh O’Reilly’s goal attempt when the Cavan forward split through the Laois defence.
Laois responded and Tracey Lawlor kicked a meticulous ball into Meaghan Dunne who ran through the Cavan defence and slotted the ball into the back of the net for Laois’ second goal. Meaghan Dunne followed this up two minutes later with a point after a lay off by Rachel Williams. Cavan’s Mona Sheridan instigated a Cavan revival and her sister Geraldine scored a wonderful long range point to keep their side in contention. This effort was followed by a free by Claragh O’ Reilly and a point from Ciara Farrell who pointed the rebound after Laois defenders and goalkeeper Ciamh Dollard guarded the net on Beth Farrelly Magee’s attempt at goal.
Laois finished the half’s scoring with Martha Kirwan and Maggie Murphy combining together to set Meaghan Dunne up for her second point. Rachel Williams was unlucky to see her goal attempt smack off the crossbar on the cusp of half time. This left the score 2-3 to 0-6 in favour of Laois with Cavan finding it difficult to combat Laois’ quick hand passing and effective attacking football.
Ciara Farrell opened the scoring in the second-half for Cavan. This score put Cavan within two points of Laois and the stage seemed set for a close encounter. That was until Laois forward Laura-Marie Maher’s point attempt in the 34th minute dropped short and went over the Cavan goalkeeper’s head and into the net. This was a key turning point in the match and Cavan made numerous passing errors and kicked many wides after this, scoring just 0-4 in the second half and kicking six wides.
The writing was on the wall for Cavan after this as Laois played the remainder of the half demonstrating some excellent team work, skilful passing and superb points.
What was most impressive to watch was the confidence the younger panellists had on the ball and, rather than looking at more experienced players to guide them as Laois had a tendency to do in games previous, the team worked well together to ensure they saw off the Cavan challenge.
Cavan will look back at their missed opportunities while Laois showed the potential in the county going forward, particularly Fiona Dooley and Meaghan Dunne who had huge performances for Laois.
Laois now face Armagh in the All-Ireland quarter final.
Scorers – Laois: Meaghan Dunne 1-2, Martina Dunne 0-4, Martha Kirwan and Laura-Marie Maher 1-0 each, Rachel Williams, Eimear McWey, Anna Moore 0-1 each, Tracey Lawlor 0-1 free. Cavan: Claragh O’ Reilly 0-4 frees, Ciara Farrell 0-3, Geraldine Sheridan 0-2, Roisin O’ Keeffe 0-1.
Laois: Ciamh Dollard, Clodagh Dunne, Grainne Dunne (yellow card), Clodagh Brennan, Maggie Murphy, Fiona Dooley, Martha Kirwan, Joyce Dunne, Tracey Lawlor, Aisling Kehoe, Martina Dunne, Eimear McWey, Rachel Williams, Laura-Marie Maher, Meaghan Dunne. Subs: Anna Moore for Aisling Kehoe (16 mins), Laura Nurney for Joyce Dunne (57 mins).
Cavan: Caron Fay, Emma McDermott, Grainne McGlade, Joanne Moore, Sheila Reilly, Sarah Murray, Laura Fitzpatrick, Rosie Crowe, Mona Sheridan, Claragh O’ Reilly, Roisin O’ Keeffe, Shona King, Beth Farrelly Magee, Geraldine Sheridan, Ciara Farrell. Subs: Elaine Walsh for Caron Fay (25 mins), Aisling Sheridan for Beth Farrelly Magee (30 mins), Emma Mullingan for Shona King (56 mins).