Laois 1-13 Wexford 1-11
All Ireland Ladies IFC Final
The Laois ladies football team have been crowned All Ireland champions after a hard-earned win over Wexford in Croke Park this afternoon.
Having lost to Wexford in this year’s Leinster semi-final as well as last year’s All Ireland semi-final, Donie Brennan’s side turned the the tables in GAA HQ in a thrilling contest that went right down to the final whistle.
Though they amassed 12 wides in the opening half, they monopolised possession and led 1-9 to 0-3 at the break.
A brilliant 19th minute goal from Mo Nerney – mascot on the senior All Ireland winning team of 2001 – was the crucial score as Laois struggled for long periods to make their superiority count.
But they clicked into gear before half time with five points in a row, including two exceptional efforts from Erone Fitzpatrick.
Laois had heroes all over the pitch but they were particularly rampant up front in the first half – and it was an excellent defensive display that saw them hold out in the second.
Eva Galvin got them off to a great start with a fine point within a minute and Laura Marie Maher – who got on a lot of ball in the first-half – doubled that advantage in the 5th minute.
Wexford hit back with a point from wing-back Clara Donnelly and while Laois hit four poor wides in a row, they went 0-3 to 0-1 up in the 13th minute when Nerney pointed her first free of the day.
Caitriona Murray pulled one back for Wexford but another free from Nerney immediately cancelled that out and then great work from Aisling Quigley and Sarah Anne Fitzgerald, Nerney tucked it away brilliantly into the bottom corner.
Murray hit back with a point for Wexford but Laois would kick the last five scores of the half – two from Lawlor and Fitzpatrick and another Nerney free.
At half time Laois led by nine points and even with the wind to face into in the second half, they looked in a good position.
Erone Fitzpatrick pushed Laois ten clear early in the second half but Wexford did grow into the game and three points in a row from Aoife Cullen, Kelly Kearney and Bernie Breen had them on something of a roll.
Anna Healy settled Laois with a fabulous point but there were a couple of hairy moments with sub Aoife Cullen blazing a goal effort wide and then Eimear Barry making a great save on Aisling Murphy.
Wexford continued to eat into the Laois lead and though mistakes began to creep in, an inspirational point from Nerney had Laois seven up as the game entered the final ten minutes.
It was to be a nervy spell for Laois, particularly when Aisling Quigley was sent to the sin bin in the 53rd minute.
Wexford threw everything forward in the dying stages but heroic defending from Clodagh Dunne, Jane Moore and Rachel Williams helped Laois keep them at bay for the most part.
But it was a frantic finish after Caitriona Murray hit 1-1 late on and Laois were hanging on.
But Anna Healy brilliantly won the last kickout, captain Aimee Kelly and midfielder Jane Moore held onto possession for dear life and the hooter was a glorious sound as it confirmed Laois were All Ireland champions.
What a day!
SCORERS – Laois: Mo Nerney 1-5 (0-4 frees), Emma Lawlor 0-2 (one free), Erone Fitzpatrick 0-3, Laura Marie Maher, Anna Healy, Eva Galvin 0-1 each. Wexford: Caitriona Murray 1-3 (0-1 free), Kelly Kearney 0-3, Bernie Breen 0-2, Aoife Cullen 0-1, Clara Donnelly 0-1, Aisling Murphy 0-1
LAOIS: Eimear Barry; Clodagh Dunne, Aisling Quigley, Aimee Kelly; Rachel Williams, Ellen Healy, Amy Potts ; Jane Moore, Ellen Healy; Eva Galvin, Laura Marie Maher, Erone Fitzpatrick; Mo Nerney, Emma Lawlor, Sarah Anne Fitzgerald. Subs: Joyce Dunne for Potts (38), Shifra Havill for Fitzgerald (45), Anna Moore for Galvin (57)
WEXFORD: Mary Rose Kelly; Sarah Harding-Kenny, Aisling Halligan, Shauna Murphy; Orlagh Keogh, Roisin Murphy, Clara Donnelly; Kelly Kearny, Ciara Banville; Sherene Hamilton, Caitriona Murray, Ellen O’Brien; Bernie Breen, Aisling Murphy, Amy Wilson. Subs: Aoife Cullen for Hamilton (HT), Chloe Fox for Wilson (41), Amy Walsh for Kenny (43), Emma Tompkins for O’Brien (45)
REFEREE: Siobhan Coyle (Donegal)