Tracey Lawlor scored 0-12 for Sarsfields. Pic: Denis Byrne.
Reigning champions Sarsfields are through to their thirteenth successive Laois Ladies Senior Football final after a hard fought win over a battling Timahoe side in Courtwood on Wednesday.
The game got off to an explosive start as Sarah Larkin ran through the middle of the Sarsfields’ defence to set up Mo Nerney for a goal after 30 just seconds.
It was the perfect start for the underdogs but Sarsfields responded quickly with three converted frees by Tracey Lawlor, following good work by Emma McEvoy, Lorna O’Sullivan and Lauren Kearney, to level the match.
Nerney restored the Timahoe advantage from a Maggie Murphy assist but minutes later a Joyce Dunne orchestrated move was finished to the net by Kearney to give Sarsfields the lead for the first time.
Sarsfields were never subsequently overtaken but were unable to shake off the challenge of Timahoe, who showed that they are still very much a force to be reckoned with in Laois Ladies Football.
Although Sarsfields enjoyed the majority of possession stakes and chalked up a big points tally, Timahoe reined them back in with goals at vital stages to stay in the hunt until the last five minutes.
Two points from Lawlor and one by Alison McEvoy pushed Sarsfields into a five point lead but Mo Nerney was again on hand to finish a move involving Murphy, Larken and Shona Barry to remind everyone that Timahoe were not going away.
Sarsfields retained a slender lead of 1-8 to 2-3 at the break and this was stretched to seven, with points from the newly introduced Amy Loughman (one), Lawlor (two) and Becky Williams (two), by the thirteen minute as they totally dominated the game in that period.
Timahoe again responded and it was Nerney again who pulled the trigger when she received from Sarah Larkin, who had an outstanding game for Timahoe in the middle of the field. A Grainne Dunne point narrowed the gap to two but Loughman and Lawlor were on hand with points to steady the nerves for Sarsfields.
Dunne and Nerney completed the Timahoe scoring but some excellent defensive work by Emma McEvoy, Casey Conroy and Rosemarie Bermingham set up the Sarsfields forwards who finished strongly with points from Lawlor and Joyce Dunne before Loughman rattled Lisa Daly’s net to give Sarsfields a rather flattering nine point winning margin.
Sarsfields now meet Portlaoise, in a repeat of the ’16 and ’17 finals, in O’Moore Park on Saturday next September 8th.
Scorers: Tracey Lawlor 0-12, Amy Loughman 1-1, Lauren Kearney 1-0, Becky Williams 0-2, Alison McEvoy, Joyce Dunne 0-1 each.
Team: Ciara O’Loughlin; Amy Grehan, Jenny McEvoy, Ciara Hughes; Casey Conroy, Emma McEvoy, Rosemarie Bermingham; Mags McEvoy, Lorna O’Sullivan; Ciara Burke, Joyce Dunne, Alison McEvoy; Becky Williams, Tracey Lawlor, Lauren Kearney. Subs: Mary Keating for L Kearney, Amy Loughman for L O’Sullivan (half time).
Scorers: Mo Nerney 3-4, Grainne Dunne 0-2 each.
Team: Lisa Daly; Maureen Young, Louise Delaney, Roisin Larkin; Ellen Miller, Grainne Dunne, Claire Daly; Sarah Larkin, Sarah Quigley; Shona Barry, Jenny Murphy, Ali Hooban; Mo Nerney, Maggie Murphy, Alice Dunne. Subs: Laura Devoy for A Dunne.
Referee: Eoin O‘Neill