GAA Football

Cavan stun Tipperary to salvage senior ladies football status

Louise Gunn

TG4 All-Ireland Senior Championship relegation play-off: Cavan 2-14 Tipperary 1-14

CAVAN produced a remarkable second half comeback to see off Tipperary and save their senior championship status in Sunday's All-Ireland Senior Championship relegation play-off at Virginia.

The Breffni County looked to be heading towards intermediate football next season trailing by eight points at half-time, 1-9 to 0-4, and when Tipperary star Aishling Moloney made it a nine point game immediately after the resumption there looked to be little way back.

However, Cavan capitalised on the numerical advantage as Tipperary were forced to play much of the second half minus a player with three, including key players Moloney and Aisling McCarthy, sent to the sin bin over the course of the second half and they ended the game with 13 players when Siobhan Condon picked up a second yellow card.

Cavan's second half substitutes made a huge impact with Sinead O'Sullivan, returning from injury, coming on along with promising young stars Aisling Gilsenan and Lauren McVeety, who finished with 1-2 after only joining the fray in the final quarter. Her 54th minute point levelled the game, her second point four minutes later put Cavan in front for the first time since the first minute and her injury time goal, a brilliant lob from the teenager over goalkeeper Lauren Fitzpatrick, completed a sensational turnaround.

The result means Tipperary make an immediate return to intermediate football less than 12 months after clinching the All-Ireland title at the expense of Tyrone and in a bitter blow for the Premier County while having gone almost a year and a half unbeaten between league and championship football in 2017/2018, they have finished 2018 failing to win a single championship game.

It was an especially sweet victory for Daly's side as they avenged that Division Two final defeat to Tipperary from earlier in the season and for Daly and his players this win, while there was no silverware handed out, meant much, much more.

“It was all about survival today and getting the performance,” said Daly. “In the first half we played none. We said a few hard truths at half-time. We talked about it at half-time that we had to be accountable for ourselves to get our heads down, work hard and we would get our just reward and we got that in the end. Nine points down we came back.

“Over the last couple of weeks we played a strong game against Mayo and got beat, we played a good game against Dublin and got beat, we played terrible last week against Monaghan and we ended up in this game today. We played these guys in the league final but we never really talked much about payback or revenge or that kind of stuff because it was all about survival.

“Tipperary are a great team but it's a learning curve - they came up from intermediate and they are going straight back down again.

“We needed to win this game to stay in senior football next year. Cavan belong in senior football and you can see that in the quality of minors who played today, it's here and hopefully we can get more out of it next year. It's very important that Cavan stay at senior level. Everyone of them, from one right through to whoever else came on, everyone was unbelievable.

“We got no cup today but I would rather trade today's win for the one in Parnell Park in May where they are up in the first division and playing intermediate football next year,” he added.

Aisling Maguire, who finished with an impressive 10 points to her name, got Cavan under way inside the first minute with a point from a free but Tipperary took over and by the eighth minute led 0-5 to 0-1. Points (2) from Roisin O'Keeffe, who also returned from injury and started in place of Ciara Finnegan, slightly closed the gap on Tipperary but when Moloney converted a 26th minute penalty that saw Cavan net minder Evelyn Baugh sin binned for a foot block to push her side further ahead 1-8 to 0-3 the signs looked ominous for Cavan.

Moloney made it 1-10 to 0-4 after the resumption but with their first sin bin - Condon - in the 35th minute and Maguire in devastating form from both the placed ball and play, Cavan gradually clawed their way back into the game. Four in a row from Maguire brought it back to a four point game, 1-10 to 0-8 but then Tipperary responded with two points to move 1-12 to 0-8 ahead. However, Aisling McCarthy's 44th minute sin bin followed by Moloney's in the 56th minute and a second yellow for Condon in the 60th minute, meant they struggled with the numerical disadvantage as Cavan hit 2-5 without reply. Another two Maguire points, one from a free and one from play kickstarted the revival with Ashling Sheridan's 50th minute goal reducing the deficit back to two points, 1-12 to 1-10. Maguire made it a one point game before McVeety popped up with that 1-2 to move her side four points in front with the game in injury time, 2-13 to 1-12 and ensure they would play senior football again next season.

Cavan: E Baugh; R Doonan, L Fitzpatrick, S Reilly; C Dolan, G McGlade, S Greene; A Cornyn, D English; A O'Reilly, A Maguire (0-10, 0-6f), S Lynch; B Farrelly Magee, A Sheridan (1-0), R O'Keefe (0-2f).

Subs: A Wharton for B Farrelly Magee sin bin (24), S O'Sullivan for A Wharton (35), A Gilsenan for S Lynch (43) L McVeety (1-2) for C Smith (46)

Tipperary: L Fitzpatrick; L Spillane, M Curley, E Buckley; S Condon (0-1), B Condon, O O'Dywer; S Lambert, A McCarthy (0-7, 0-6f); N Longeran, M Morrissey, AR Kennedy; R Howard (0-2), A Moloney (1-3, 1-0pen), G O'Brien (0-1).

Subs: none

Referee: John Gallagher

TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Championship semi-final: Tyrone 3-14 Sligo 3-10

TYRONE booked their place in back-to-back All-Ireland finals but they were made to work extremely hard to eek out a four points victory over Sligo in Saturday's intermediate semi-final at Fr Tierney Park, Ballyshannon.

The Ulster champions just could not seem to shake off their Connacht opponents whom they had defeated by eight points in the corresponding fixture last year and it took a fisted point from captain Neamh Woods deep into injury and an assurance goal from Chloe McCaffrey to see them over the line.

Goalkeepers on both sides excelled and Tyrone, who also had to call upon sub keeper Shannon Lynch when their number one Laura Kane was seemingly harshly sin binned for a foot block, had both theirs to thank for pulling off a number of second half saves while Noelle Gormley performed heroics for Sligo in the first half to keep her side in the game.

Tyrone were two points up a half-time leading 0-8 to 0-6 and it should have been more only for Gormley denying Gemma Begley in the 16th and Grainne Rafferty in the 21st minutes. The championship favourites made a nervy start with Sligo, who were wasteful in front of goals with four wides in the opening 10 minutes, taking the game to them as Tyrone looked dangerous on the attack with the Red Hand full forward line being afforded a lot of space. Lycrecia Quinn who came in for Maria Canavan in one of two changes to the Tyrone starting line up with Aimee Daly replacing Niamh McGirr, opened the scoring with a point in the third minute before Stephanie O'Reilly cancelled it out for Sligo in the sixth minute.

Aine Canavan and O'Reilly exchanged points as Sligo levelled matters for a second time before a Grainne Rafferty point and another one from a Begley opened up a 0-4 to 0-2 lead. Gormley then denied Begley what looked to be the game's opening goal and with Katie Walsh punishing Tyrone first from the dead ball and then getting on the end of a ball turned over from a poor kick out to send over the leveller 0-4 apiece.

Gormley again denied Tyrone this time producing a fine stop from Rafferty as Tyrone looked to be taking control and three in a row opened up a 0-7 to 0-4 advantage by the 25th minute with points from Quinn, Rafferty and Woods. A long range point from Laura Ann Laffey and a Walsh free either side of a second Begley free gave Tyrone that two point half-time advantage.

When Quinn found the back of the net inside 40 seconds of the restart after a pulsating run from Slaine McCarroll it was the perfect start to the half for Tyrone as they opened up a four point lead, 1-8 to 0-4. It would also signal the start of a frenetic 30 odd minutes of football that yielded six goals in a game that went down to the wire. A point and a goal from Walsh saw the gap reduced to just a single point by the 35th minute, the major coming from the penalty spot after referee Gerry Carmody adjudged Kane's save to have been a foot block, sending her to the sin bin for 10 minutes. Lynch stepped in between the posts but couldn't stop Walsh's shot and suddenly the Connacht side were right back in it.

Begley and Emma Jane Gervin responded with points for Tyrone but those were cancelled out by Denise McGrath and Nicola Brennan before Gervin finished superbly to the top corner giving Gormley no chance at all to open up a four point lead again, 2-10 to 1-9. They extended that lead out to six, 2-13 to 1-10, with the closing in on injury time and they looked to have finally shaken off the Sligo challenge. However, Sligo had other ideas and two goals in as many minutes, first through Walsh and then Denise McGrath had the sides level in injury time, 3-10 to 2-13.

But Tyrone remained composed and captain Woods took the smart option to fist the ball over the bar to give her side a one point lead and as Sligo threw caution to the wind that saw Gormley leave her goals and come racing up the pitch, Tyrone turned the ball over, Niamh Hughes, who had been impressive throughout, sought out Begley who in turn found McCaffrey and the young corner forward fired to the back of the net to seal a spot in the September 16 final.

Tyrone: L Kane; A Daly, J Barrett, C Conway; S McCarroll, C Hunter E Brennan (0-1); N Woods (0-2), EJ Gervin (1-1); N Hughes, L Quinn (1-2), Á Canavan (0-1); G Rafferty (0-2), G Begley (0-4, 0-2f), C McCaffrey (1-1).

Subs: S Lynch for Kane (34), A Canavan for Lynch (47), E Mulgrew for Hunter (48), N O'Neill for Quinn (54).

Sligo: N Gormley; A Morrisroe, E Codd, M McNamara; G O'Loughlin, L Boles, KA Henry; S Regan, N Brennan (0-1); LA Laffey (0-1), S O'Reilly (0-3), S Naughton; E O'Reilly (0-1), K Walsh (2-4, 0-2f), D McGrath (1-0)

Subs: B Byrne for O'Loughlin (ht), T Walsh for Naughton (ht), S Henry for E O'Reilly (46) S Naughton for Brennan (53).

Referee: Gerry Carmody (Roscommon)

TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Championship relegation play-off: Longford 3-13 Fermanagh 2-10

FERMANAGH will make an immediate return to junior championship football next season after losing their relegation play-off by six points to Longford in Ballymachugh on Saturday.

The Ulster side, who won the All-Ireland Junior title last September had put themselves in a good position at half-time leading 2-7 to 1-6 thanks to two Eimear Smyth goals, however a strong second half from Longford saw them overturn that four point interval deficit with two goals in as many minutes from hat-trick hero Imelda Reynolds turning the game in favour of the Leinster side who held their opponents scoreless for the final 10 minutes and comfortably winning by six points.

Smyth's early goal had Fermanagh lead 1-1 to no score, the corner forward taking advantage of some confusion in the Longford defence who were disputing a sideline ball to race through for the game's first goal. However, two Michelle Farrell frees and Reynolds' first goal in the ninth minute edged the Division Three side in front. But the lead changed hands again as Fermanagh responded three quick fire unanswered points and a second Smyth goal, this time from the penalty spot, despite protestations of the decision from Longford, in the 20th minute saw the Erne side open up a six point lead as they hit 1-4 without reply.

Longford did finish the half stronger with Farrell to the fore to reduce Fermanagh's lead to four at half-time, 2-7 to 1-6.

Fermanagh had a chance to extend their lead to seven two minutes after the resumption when they were awarded a second penalty but Smyth, on a hat-trick, dragged her shot wide and Reynolds' second goal in the 39th minute left just a point between them, 2-9 to 2-8. And Fermanagh were rocked by a third Longford goal just minutes later when Reynolds completed her hat-trick in the 43rd minute when she finished to the net from a tight angle to move them into the lead for the first time since the ninth minute, 3-8 to 2-9.

Fermanagh brought it back to two points with 10 minutes remaining but that would prove to be their last score as Longford pulled away to record their first championship win of 2018 and one that would save their intermediate status.

The defeat undoubtedly is a blow for Fermanagh who less than 12 months since winning the junior championship after a replay against Derry will once again ply their trade junior football in 2019. It was always going to be a big ask for the Erne County to be competitive at this level given the turnover in players from last season and the young mostly inexperienced players who have had to make the step up to intermediate football this year as the rebuilding phase will have to continue on at junior level now.

Longford: M Kilkenny; M Kelleher, L Keegan, A Noonan; A Cosgrove, C Moore, E O'Brien (0-1); M Reynolds (0-1), M Farrell (0-8, 0-2f); A Darcy (0-1), T Lee, M McManus; I Reynolds (3-0), S Reynolds, A Greene (0-2).

Subs: A Barry for Kelleher (4).

Fermanagh: D Owens; N McManus, C Murphy, E Corrigan; C Clarke, A Maguire, S Brittan; D Maguire, R O'Reilly; O Leonard, A Boyle, R McCusker; J Doonan, (0-4) E Smyth (2-4, 1-0pen, 0-4f), B Bogue (0-2).

Subs: C McGee for McCusker 33, N McManus for E Corrigan 36.

Referee: S McLaughlin (Donegal)

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