Home Sport GAA Dogged Wicklow force draw with Laois Ladies in Brennan’s first game as...

Dogged Wicklow force draw with Laois Ladies in Brennan’s first game as manager

Laois 2-16 Wicklow 3-13
Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 3

The Laois Ladies saw the opening game of their LIDL Division 3 campaign end in a draw after a pulsating second half at the LOETB Centre of Excellence on Sunday.

Donie Brennan’s side looked to be in good shape to begin their campaign with a win when they went nine points clear in the 36th minute, but they were reeled in by a dogged Wicklow side.

Even deep in injury time when Mo Nerney gave Laois a one point lead with only seconds to play, Wicklow still managed to put a move together to create a well-worked point, and both teams had to settle for a share of the spoils.

The opening stages were a cagey affair, understandably so given it was the opening round of the competition. Wicklow took the lead through full-forward Meadhbh Deeney, but Laois hit back through the impressive Kate Whelan.

Fiona Dooley put Laois ahead before frees from Whelan and Mo Nerney put Laois in control, but Wicklow hit back with points from Laura Griffin and Laura Hogan.

Laois, playing into a stiff breeze, responded well, helped in part by some excellent shot-stopping by goalkeeper Sinead O’Rourke. Mo Nerney then hit a brace of frees before Erone Fitzpatrick and Kate Whelan (free) pushed them five ahead, and it looked like they were going to boss proceedings from there.

Credit to Wicklow, however, as they battled back really well. Aoife Gorman kicked a fine point before Laura Hogan was on hand to fire a rebound to the net after Sinead O’Rourke had made another excellent save for Laois.

Laois refused to panic after that score and instead hit the last two points of the half, both frees, one each from Nerney and Whelan to see them lead 0-10 to 1-4 at the break.

Mo Nerney and Aimee Maher traded points on the restart before Laois struck for their first goal. A good move saw them work the ball to Kate Whelan on the right side of the penalty area, and she expertly tucked the ball into the bottom left corner of the net.

Niamh Cullen replied for Wicklow but Laois were moving well now, and the next minute or so belonged to Mo Nerney. First she slotted over another free before then winning possession from the Wicklow kickout, dummying her way into the penalty area and drilling a shot to the back of the net.

Laois now led 2-12 to 1-6 and looked to be in cruise control, but Wicklow refused to yield. In their next attack Sarah Miley capped a brilliant passing move by hitting the top corner for an excellent goal. They then hit three points without reply to haul themselves back within one score of Donie Brennan’s side.

Kate Whelan, Mo Nerney and Emma Lawlor all kicked points for Laois after that to seemingly restore their grip on proceedings, but Wicklow came again.

Laura Hogan hit two frees either side of a Niamh Cullen effort to leave three in it, and then Meadhbh Deeney hit their third goal after good work from Clodagh Fox to set her up. That levelled the scores and both teams now went in search of a winner.

Laois thought they got it when Mo Nerney pointed after good work from Erone Fitzpatrick to set her up, but Wicklow sub Sinead McGettigan held her cool to point less than a minute later to ensure a share of the spoils.

Laois will go in search of their first win next weekend, when they travel to Roscommon.

SCORERS – Laois: Mo Nerney 1-8 (0-6 frees), Kate Whelan 1-5 (0-3 frees), Fiona Dooley, Emma Lawlor, Erone Fitzpatrick 0-1 each. Wicklow: 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.

LAOIS: 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)

WICKLOW: 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)

SEE ALSO – Injury time goals from Lillis and O’Carroll rescue thrilling draw for Laois footballers