LADIES GAA | Champions Stabannon up and running but they are pushed all the way by Roche/Na Piarsaigh
Halpenny Travel Louth Ladies Senior Championship Group One
Stabannon Parnells 4–8 Roche/Na Piarsaigh 3–8
Stabannon’s defence of the Halpenny Travel Louth Ladies Senior Championship is up and running but they were given an almighty scare by the amalgamation of Roche and Na Piarsaigh at The Rock Road on Sunday morning.
Eleven points ahead at the break, it looked like John Garvey’s side were on the way to a comfortable win, especially when teenager Niamh Sadlier hit the mid-Louth side’s fourth goal of the game in the 43rd minute.
That left Roche/Na Piarsaigh 13 in arrears but, with Jenny McCourt leading the charge, they produced a rousing comeback, hitting the next six scores on the trot to leave just a goal between the teams going into the final minutes of the game.
Stabannon, though, steadied the ship to see it out and the combination outfit — who were missing a number of regulars — will look back and rue a host of squandered chances either side of the break that cost them a victory that would have sent shockwaves around the county.
Full-forward McCourt hit the first of her eight points in the opening seconds but Stabannon took charge after that with Ciara McNally, Grace Rogers and the excellent Sadlier all firing over.
Sandwiched in between was a Lauren Meehan effort for Roche/Na Piarsaigh that came back off the angle of post and crossbar and rebounded to safety. How crucial it proved to be in the end.
A Sadlier penalty extended the lead to five, 1–3 to 0–1, as Roche started to rack up the misses with Ashling Begley and Aoife Copas falling short with attempts from distance.
McCourt forced her way through a yellow wall to hit point number two but the champions finished the half on top with experienced campaigners Grace Lynch, Aine McBride and Grace Rogers all on target in quick succession.
Amy Malone added her name to the scoresheet and Stabannon took a commanding lead into the break when Rogers collected a Ciara McNally pass to fire into the top corner of the net and leave it 2–7 to 0–2 at the break.
Rogers also helped herself to the first score of the second half but Roche/Na Piarsaigh showed signs that they were beginning to stir when Ashling Begley looped a shot into the net either side of a brace from McCourt, her second the result of some good approach play by Sarah McArdle.
Goalkeeper Nicole Sheeran then made a couple of superb saves to keep her side in the game but their hopes looked to have been killed off as Stabannon added two more goals, the first a sloppy mix-up in defence, the second a clinical finish by Sadlier.
Ashling Begley saw a shot crash off the Stabannon bar but the combination side didn’t give up and three points from McCourt, followed by a Lauren Meehan goal started the revival.
McCourt’s eighth point of the afternoon gave Roche/Na Piarsaigh real hope and their belief was only fuelled when substitute Claire McDonnell hit the back of the net to leave just a goal between the sides.
Stabannon found it difficult to escape at this point but the experienced heads in their team managed to settle things down and they held on to secure a very hard fought-win.
STABANNON LADIES: Michelle Campbell; Michelle McArdle, Andrea Carney, Bronagh McGrane; Carol Cluskey, Aine McBride (0–1), Siobhan Giggins; Grace Lynch (0–1), Anne-Marie Lynch; Ruth McNally, Orlaith Byrne, Amy Malone (0–1); Ciara McNally (0–1), Grace Rogers (1–3), Niamh Sadlier (3–1, 1f). Subs: Danielle Sharkey for C McNally, Hannah Carolan for N Sadlier, Jenni McGuinness for A Malone, 46 mins; Claire McDonnell for A Copas, 50 mins; Kim Lynch for M Campbell, 59 mins.
ROCHE/NA PIARSAIGH: Nicole Sheeran; Ciara Quigley, Tracey Rogers, Kate Halligan; Sarah McArdle, Ashling Sloane, Caoimhe Trainor; Niamh Callan, Aoife Halligan; Lauren Meehan (1–0), Ashling Begley (1–0), Kate Burns; Aoife Copas, Jennifer McCourt (0–8, 4f), Louise Byrne. Subs: Claire McDonnell (1–0) for A Copas, 50 mins; Anna Murphy for K Burns, 52 mins.
REFEREE: Paul Finnegan.