The Laois Ladies were held to a draw in their opening game of the LIDL NFL Division 3 as a Wicklow comeback denied them victory.
Donie Brennan’s side were nine points up at one stage in the second half, but Wicklow proved to be resilient and well-drilled opposition, eventually reeling them. Laois will undoubtedly be the more disappointed of the two sides given the lead they built up early in the second half, but there were enough positives in the game to mean Brennan and his management team shouldn’t be too despondent.
Mo Nerney top-scored with 1-8 while Kate Whelan also showed well with 1-5 at corner-forward. Caoimhe Simms carried the ball well from a deep lying role and Sinead O’Rourke made a string of top-class saves in the first half.
Laois had the better of the opening stages as they responded well to Wicklow opening the score. Kate Whelan drew Laois level before Fiona Dooley put them ahead when her shot hit the crossbar and went over. Mo Nerney and Kate Whelan both hit frees to push the gap out to three, but Wicklow, as they would do repeatedly, fought back.
Laura Griffin and Laura Hogan got them within one, but a run of four points in a row from Laois kept them in the driving seat. Wicklow midfielder Aoife Gorman broke that run with a good score and then Laura Hogan collected a rebound from a good Sinead O’Rourke save to rattle in the first goal of the game.
Laois still finished the half the stronger of the two sides as pointed frees from Kate Whelan and Mo Nerney saw them lead 0-10 to 1-4 at the break.
Things got even better for them soon after the restart. Mo Nerney and Aimee Maher traded points before a cool finish from Kate Whelan on the right side of the penalty area gave Laois their first goal. Mo Nerney then popped over a free before winning possession on the resulting Wicklow kickout, jinking her way through on goal and then drilling a shot to the net.
Laois now lead 2-12 to 1-9, but in the next Wicklow attack they put together a lovely team move which Sarah Miley finished off but hitting the top corner. Three Wicklow points soon followed and there was now just three in it.
Whelan, Nerney and Emma Lawlor all pointed for Laois but again Wicklow came back strongly. They hit three points in a row themselves before good work from Clodagh Fox set Meadhbh Deeney up for the equalizing goal.
Both teams then went in search of a winner, and deep into injury time Mo Nerney rounded off a good move by popping over her eighth point of the day. Unfortunately for Laois there was still time for one more Wicklow attack, and Sinead McGettigan provided a late equalizer to ensure a share of the spoils.
Scorers: Mo Nerney 1-8 (0-6 frees), Kate Whelan 1-5 (0-3 frees), Fiona Dooley, Emma Lawlor, Erone Fitzpatrick 0-1 each.
Team: Sinead O’Rourke (St Paul’s); Ciara Hughes (Sarsfields), Laura Nerney (Foxrock-Cabinteely), Rebecca Balfe (St Pauls); Casey Conroy (Sarsfields), Emily Mulhall (Ballyroan), Amy Potts (St Brigid’s); Fiona Dooley (Portlaoise), Eva Galvin (St Conleth’s); Caoimhe Simms (St Brigid’s), Mo Nerney (Timahoe), Alice Walsh (Shanahoe); Kate Whelan (Ballyroan), Erone Fitzpatrick (Park-Ratheniska), Emma Lawlor (St Paul’s). Subs: Meaghan Dunne (Sarsfields) for Walsh (half time), Rebecca Reddin (Portlaoise) for Mulhall (38 mins), Rachel Fitzgerald for Whelan (51 mins)
Scorers: Laura Hogan 1-4 (0-3 frees), Meadhbh Deeney 1-2, Sarah Miley 1-0, Niamh Cullen 0-2, Aimee Maher, Amy Murphy, Laura Griffin, Aoife Gorman, Sinead McGettigan 0-1 each.
Team: Kim Connors; Emily Mulhall, Sarah Jane Winders, Jessica Nolan Byrne; Lorna Fusciadi, Niamh McGettigan, Aimee Maher; Jackie Kinch, Aoife Gorman; Amy Murphy, Laura Griffin, Sarah Miley; Laura Hogan, Meadhbh Deeney, Clodagh Fox. Subs: Niamh Cullen for Griffin (half time), Sinead McGettigan for Murphy (47 mins), Sarah Byrne for Miley (54 mins).
Referee: John Devlin (Galway)