Leinster Senior Final Report- Late Catherine Walsh strike secures Leinster crown for Thomastown
by PRO on the 13th of November 2016
AIB Senior Club Final
Thomastown 1-7 St Vincents 0-8
by Gerry O’Sullivan Leinster PRO
As the clock struck the 63rd minute of this epic encounter, St Vincents were defending with all their might a one point lead. Thomastown who were in deep trouble when they trailed by 0-8 to 0-3 at the 40th minute mark had inched their way back. They made one final sally and it looked like intercounty star Shelly Farrell would be the hero (and Player of the Match) when she aimed her shot for the levelling point. Vincent’s ‘keeper Nicole Burnett did superbly to stop the point but her batted clearance fell to ‘Town’s Catherine Walsh and she turned onto her stronger side to hammer to the net.
The puck-out followed but there wouldn’t be time for a response from St Vincents and for the second year in a row, they have to live with the heartbreak of losing a Leinster final at the death.
When they sit down to analyse the match, they will realise that the game slipped from them not in the 63rd minute but in the final 24 minutes when they failed to add to their 0-8 tally.
Thomastown were met with fierce resistence and passion from the Dublin champions who hit four unaswered points before half-time to lead by 0-6 to 0-3 at the break.
They stretched that lead to 5 thanks to two more placed balls from the excellent Alison Maguire. But they will also discover that only one other Vincent’s player contributed to the scoring – an outstanding point from Áine Fanning – whereas 5 different players all scored from play for Thomastown.
The first among them was Jenny Reddy in the 4th minute to be followed by Niamh Donnelly who notched the first of four three minutes later.
Thomastown had the aid of the breeze in this half but by the 14th minute, Vincents outstanding defence was on top and from a free by Alison Maguire, they were off the mark. A great hook on Sarah O’Donavan handed possession to Sinéad Brennan and the centre forward made no mistake.
But that would be it from a scoring point of view from the Kilkenny champions. Playing into the breeze, Vincents took control and after her second point from a free Alison Maguire brought her supporters to their feet with a wonder point near the sideline. Vincents were now rampant and their defensive lines particularly the likes of Áine Woods, Deirdre Johnstone and Eimear McCarthy at midfield were hurling a storm.
Indiscretions in the Thomastown defence saw Alison Maguire dish out the punishment with two more pointed frees. As the short whistle approached Mary Cronin did superbly to recover the ball, pass to Áine Fanning and she nailed a fantastic score.
At half time Thomastown knew they had a game on their hands and introduced Eimear Farrell and Catherine Walsh – both would have a telling impact on the game and accounted for 1-1 between them
However that impact took time to reveal itself as Vincent’s maintained the momentum that had started before the interval and Alison Maguire with a free and a 45 extended their lead to 0-8 to 0-3. Their cause wasn’t helped by the loss through injury of pacey forward Claire Donnelly. Seeing their predicament, the Thomastown players took ownership of the challenge and a point from Niamh Donnelly in the 46th minute gave them hope.
Anna Farrell and Jenny Reddy were coming more and more into the game in the middle of the field and were responsible for the supply to the likes of Eimear Farrell and the youngest of the four sister split the posts in the 50th minute.
Vincents were beginning to feel the strain and such was the dominance of the Thomastown defence in the second half where full-back Ailish Butler nullified the threat of the Vincent’s danger woman Aisling Maher, that in the entire second half Vincents only hit one wide. The Thomastown ‘keeper Niamh Bolger was never threatened and she had only 3 puck-outs in the second half.
Niamh Donnelly put her name on her third point with a free in the 52nd minute as Vincent’s fought heroically to stem the flow none more so than Eva Maria Elliott whose spectacular catch in the 53rd minute was awesome. However they needed someone up front to pull off something – notch a score, earn a free – but it wasn’t happening. Two monster frees from Alison Maguire landed in the small box but try as they did the final touch was missing.
Another Niamh Donnelly free set the game up for frantic finish in the 57th minute before Catherine Walsh who featured in Kilkenny’s All-Ireland Intermediate win but has had to settle for a place on the bench for recent club games proved the match winner.
Joy and heartbreak in equal measure epitomised the aftermath but what a game!
Thomastown Scorers: Niamh Donnelly (0-4), Catherine Walsh (1-0), Jenny Reddy (0-1), Sinéad Brennan (0-1), Eimear Farrell (0-1)
St. Vincents Scorers: Alison Maguire (0-7), Áine Fanning (0-1)
Thomastown – Niamh Bolger, Eimear Corr, Ailish Butler, Aoife Holden, Ciara Farrell, Meighan Farrell, Sally Teehan, Jenny Reddy, Anna Farrell, Sarah Walsh, Sinéad Brennan, Eimear Donnelly, Niamh Donnelly, Shelly Farrell, Joanne Fitzpatrick
Subs: Catherine Walsh for Eimear Donnelly, Eimear Farrell for Fitzpatrick
St Vincents: Nicole Burnett, Ciara O’Leary, Áine Woods, Deirdre Johnstone, Lora Smith, Emma Brennan, Eva Maria Elliott, Eimear McCarthy, Sarah O’Donavan, Claire Donnelly, Áine Fanning, Kate McCarry, Mary Cronin, Aisling Maher, Alison Maguire
Subs: Ellen McGovern for Donnelly (inj), Evelyn Twomey for Cronin, Eimear Brannigan for Maher, Aoife Cullen for Smith
Referee: Alan Lagrue
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