The Laois senior ladies football championship got underway over the weekend with three games down for decision.
With seven teams in the competition, there are two groups this year – with Sarsfields, St Conleth’s, Timahoe and St Paul’s in one and Portlaoise, St Brigid’s and Shanahoe in the other.
The top three teams in the group of four will qualify for the knockout stages with the top team going into the semi-final. In the other group, they are essentially just playing for positions.
Here we look back on the three games.
St Conleth’s 2-12 Sarsfields 1-12
St Conleth’s recorded a significant first ever championship win over former kingpins Sarsfields on Sunday in Mountmellick.
Sarsfields had to work hard to get the better of St Conleth’s in last year’s semi-final – but Noel Whelehan’s charges turned the tables on this occasion. Shifra Havill got an early goal to give Conleth’s an advantage with Sarah Walsh also chipping in with a couple of nice points.
A somewhat fortuitous goal from Clare Conlon got Sarsfields back into contention but St Conleth’s took a 2-6 to 1-6 lead in at half time after Aoife Kirrane got in for a well-taken goal.
Marie Byrne, Sarah Walsh and Alanna Havill all pointed to stretch Conleth’s six clear early in the second half but Conlon, who got the bulk of her side’s scores, responded with three in row for Sarsfields.
In the end Aoife Kirrane finished with 1-4 and Sarah Walsh with 0-4. Shifra Havill got a goal while Eva Galvin, Sinead Cullen, Marie Byrne and Allana Havill all got a point each.
It was a hard-fought finish but St Conleth’s held on for a famous win. They now play Timahoe in Round 2 next weekend while Sarsfields will be fancied to bounce back against St Paul’s.
ST CONLETH’S: Naomi Luttrell; Aine Haberlin, Mary Cotter, Aimee Kelly; Nicole Byrne, Aoife Kirrane, Claire Fox; Shifra Havill, Alanna Havill; Nicole Havill, Sarah Walsh, Marie Byrne; Fiona Dempsey, Eva Galvin, Sinead Cullen. Subs: Kim Webster for Cullen, Laura Dunne for Walsh
SARSFIELDS: Becky Williams; Ciara Hughes, Jenny McEvoy, Laura Peake; Aisling Bohane, Alison McEvoy, Orla Whelan; Rachel Williams, Rosemarie Bermingham; Laura Marie Maher, Mags McEvoy, Lauren Kearney; Lorna O’Sullivan, Clare Conlon, Amy McKane. Subs: Ellie O’Connell for Peake, Grainne Lawlor for O’Sullivan
Portlaoise 2-8 St Brigid’s 2-8
Portlaoise won their first senior title last year – but they were very lucky to get a share of the spoils against St Brigid’s on Sunday evening in Ballylinan.
Brigid’s are under the guidance of Mick Moore and Kieran Kelly and they gave Portlaoise plenty of it for long spells.
But Portlaoise, just a couple of days after playing in the 2020 Leinster club final, hung in and just about hung in and forced a draw in the end.
Portlaoise now have a bye week, with a number of their players in camogie championship action this weekend, while St Brigid’s face 2020 intermediate champions Shanahoe.
All three teams will advance to the knockout stages with the top team going into the semi-final and second and third into the quarter-final.
PORTLAOISE: Aoife Conlon-Hyland; Rebecca Reddin, Sarah Fleming, Claire Dunne; Amy Byrne, Aishling Saunders, Ciara Byrne; Ellen Healy, Laura Nerney; Alison Taylor, Aisling Kehoe, Fiona Dooley; Grainne Moran, Sarah Anne Fitzgerald, Shaunagh Jackson. Subs: Maeve Phelan for Saunders, Julia Cahill for A Byrne, Aoibhe O’Brien for Dunne, Kirsten Keenan for Nerney
ST BRIGID’S: Aisling Byrne; Maeve Gallagher, Tara Kelly, Fiona Fennessy; Aine Lacey, Amy Potts, Lisa Walsh; Jane Moore, Anna Moore; Saoirse Byrne, Deirdre O’Shea, Aoife Gallagher; Aisling Behan, Aisling Lacey, Patrice Whelan. Subs: Caoimhe Simms for Byrne, Maeve Whelan for P Whelan
Timahoe 2-13 St Paul’s 1-6
Timahoe got off to a winning start with a 10-point win over St Paul’s on Sunday.
Maurice Deegan’s charges were in command of this one from the start and had 2-6 on the board in the first quarter.
However, their victory was somewhat overshadowed by a leg injury sustained by key forward Mo Nerney.
While the full extent of the injury is not yet known, Timahoe will be hopeful that it is not as bad as first feared.
As St Conleth’s defeated Sarsfields in the other group game, Timahoe now sit in joint top position.
They face St Conleth’s in Round 2 next weekend with the winner of that game virtually assured of heading straight for the semi finals.
TIMAHOE: Aoibhe Brennan; Laura Dempsey, Sarah Tuohy, Heather Bennett; Clare Daly, Maureen Young, Shona Barry; Sarah Larkin, Orla Hennessy; Roisin Fleming, Sarah Quigley, Rachel Kelly; Alice Dunne, Mo Nerney, Sinead Goode. Subs: Kayla Darcy, Edel Deegan, Ellen Miller, Laura Devoy, Sinead Larkin
ST PAUL’S: Nadine Dempsey; Cathy Dunne, Anne Lawlor, Alannah O’Toole; Molly O’Toole, Niamh Crowley, Holly Langford; Isabella O’Toole, Rebecca Balfe; Aoife Langford, Emma Lawlor, Ellen O’Neill; Sinead O’Rourke, Ciara Crowley, Kate Tynan Subs: Sarah McCormack, Megan Byrne, Molly McCormack.