Kildare’s experience helps them past Tyrone at Croke Park

The Ulster side fought hard but were three-point losers

Kildare captain Grace Clifford hoists aloft the trophy after her side’s win over Tyrone yesterday. Picture: Sportsfile
Kildare captain Grace Clifford hoists aloft the trophy after her side’s win over Tyrone yesterday. Picture: Sportsfile

Lidl Ladies’ NFL Division Two final

Kildare 2-9 Tyrone 0-12

KILDARE claimed the Division Two title with a hard-fought three-point victory over Tyrone in Croke Park yesterday.

A three-minute period towards the end of the first half in which Kildare hit 1-2 without reply, proved decisive in the game, giving them a four-point, 2-4 to 0-6, lead at the break.

Player-of-the-match Roisin Byrne hit four points for the winners, while Maria Canavan top-scored for Tyrone with eight points, seven from frees, on a day that she only missed one dead-ball.

Kildare now extend their unbeaten run to 22 competitive games and also have back-to-back league titles after winning Division Three last year.

They now looking forward to returning to Division One for the first time since 2012.

Tyrone will join them there in 2025 with both finalists promoted and while there is that to celebrate, they will look back on this as a game they could perhaps have got something out of.

They enjoyed a lot of possession, kept Kildare, who were the favourites, scoreless for 18 minutes in the first half and shot five first-half wides, compared to two by their opponents.

Tyrone were also without vice-captain Chloe McCaffrey, out through injury, and she looks set to miss the Ulster championship, which gets underway in a few weeks’ time.

Manager Sean O’Kane was disappointed with the result but full of praise for his side who he said gave everything.

“I’m disappointed to lose,’’ he said.

‘’Looking at their second goal we got caught. We were a bit rash too in the first half with chances, we might have got a goal, we certainly missed two or three points and we were beat by three points,” said O’Kane.

“It’s disappointing but the girls gave everything they had, no complaints.

“Probably the better team won it on the day, they were better organised, they had more cohesion, they seemed to be playing together for longer and now they have gone [divison] three, two, one and we are still building up.

‘’I’m disappointed with the result, I’m disappointed for the girls, I thought we played quite well.”

Kildare opened the scoring through Roisin Byrne in the second minute, but Tyrone replied with back-to-back points from 18-year-old Emma Conroy to take the lead by the fourth minute.

It was a frantic start from both sides and the ball was in the back of the Tyrone net in the sixth minute.

Kildare overturned a Tyrone kick-out and patiently waited their chance as Byrne played in the final ball to Claire Sullivan, who struck it low under Caitlin Donnelly.

Byrne then added a point from a free to put Kildare 1-2 to 0-2 ahead after seven minutes.

As the rain came down, Tyrone hit the next four points, three in-a-row from Canavan, including two frees, and one from Sasha Byrne to lead by one, 0-6 to 1-2, after 24 minutes.

The Tyrone defence had been keeping Kildare at bay, holding them scoreless for 18 minutes but 1-2 in the final five minutes saw Kildare swing the game back in their favour.

Roisin Byrne hit two points before Neasa Dooley struck for a 28th-minute goal.

Kildare overturned Tyrone in their own half and Dooley was on the end of the move to fire past Donnelly.

Tyrone had their own goal chance in the final minute of the half when goalkeeper Mary Hulgraine was dispossessed, the ball falling to Horisk. But she could not find the target and Tyrone found themselves a harsh four points adrift at the break, 2-4 to 0-6.

Canavan (free) and Tyrone captain Aoibhinn McHugh made it a two-point game with nine minutes of the second half gone, McHugh’s effort clipping the crossbar and going over, though it easily could have ended in the top corner.

Two points was as close as Tyrone would get with Kildare able to keep their noses in front as the sides traded scores.

Two important points from Kildare substitutes Laura Curran and Niamh Farrelly were matched byCanavan frees but Tyrone could not get back to within one as Kildare’s experience and their defensive set-up kept them at bay.

Kildare M Hulgraine; F Troute, A Clifford, M Doherty; L Murtagh, R Sargent, L Gilbert; G Clifford, H McLoughlin; T Duggan (0-1), E Dowling (0-1), C Sullivan (1-0); N Dooley (1-1), R Byrne (0-4, 0-2 frees), A Rattigan

Subs N Farrelly (0-1) for Rattigan (25), E O’Toole for McLoughlin (40), L Curran (0-1) for Murtagh (43), H Tyrrell for Dowling (53), S Munnelly for Duggan (54)

Tyrone C Donnelly; J Lyons, J Barrett, E Quinn; C Campbell, E Mulgrew, M Corrigan; A McHugh (0-1), M Mallon; EJ Gervin, E Conroy (0-2), A Horisk; M Canavan (0-8, 0-7 frees), Z Loughran, S Byrne (0-1)

Subs A Daly for Horisk (19-22), E McCanny for Byrne (45), C Daly for Barrett (48), A Grimes for Conroy (50), A Daly for Horisk (53), KR Muldoon for Corrigan (60)

Referee Shane Curley (Galway).