By Paudie Everard, Moyle Rovers
Tipperary finished off a brilliant year of Ladies football as they won the All Ireland Intermediate Final in Croke Park on Sunday 24thSeptember against a fancied Tyrone side. Tipperary were the better side but Tyrone were worthy opponents and chased Tipperary all the way to the final whistle in a high quality entertaining game that tested both sides for stamina and fitness. Tyrone had the first few attacks but a determined and committed Tipperary defence prevented the early chances converting to scores. Gillian O'Brien opened Tipperary's scoring with a point. Aisling McCarthy followed with a pointed free after Roisin Howard had committed bravely to a 50/50 ball. It was twelve minutes before Tyrone had their opening score, a point. Roisin Howard then scored another point following good work by Laura Dillon. Tyrone hit back with a goal to go in front. The Tipperary response was immediate and effective, Roisin Howard had a point and soon after the same player earned a free which was duly converted by Aisling McCarthy. Aisling McCarthy intercepted a Tyrone hand pass and lobbed the out of position keeper to score a super goal which rocked Tyrone and gave Tipperary a huge boost. Gillian O'Brien saw a goal chance well saved by the Tyrone keeper but the same player had a point soon afterwards on twenty minutes. In the space of five minutes Tipperary had hit 1-3 to turn a one-point defect into a five point lead. It was a golden spell that laid the platform for victory. Tyrone had a good goal chance on twenty-three minutes but was put wide from close in. A good Roisin Howard run was off loaded to Aishling Moloney who was impeded on goal shot. The ball fell to Mairead Morrissey who fisted over for a valuable point. The half time score was Tipperary 1-7 Tyrone 1-3.
Tipperary had set up defensively with Jennifer Grant acting very effectively as a sweeper and the Tipperary defence were immense in the first half frustrating and containing the much vaunted Tyrone forward line. The Tipperary forwards had taken their early chances well but were increasingly now being well marshalled by a much tighter Tyrone defence. The second half was a very even affair. Tipperary had good points from play from Aishling Moloney, Mairead Morrissey and two from Gillian O'Brien. Tyrone hit back after each Tipperary score to land points of own and keep the gap at four points. They reduced the deficit to three points on forty-seven minutes. Aisling McCarthy then landed two big frees to push out the advantage for Tipperary to five points. As the game entered the last ten minutes Tyrone stepped up the pressure. Lauren Fitzpatrick made a crucial save before Tyrone scored two points to leave it just a three-point game. Our backs that had played brilliantly all day were not going to concede anything further and they safely closed out the game to the delight of the large Tipperary attendance. Final score Tipperary 1-13 Tyrone 1-10.
Congratulations to Aisling McCarthy on her award of Player of the Match, it is well deserved as she has been an instrumental player throughout the year. Samantha Lambert followed in the footsteps of many a proud Tipperary captain as she climbed the steps of the Hogan Stand to accept the Mary Quinn Trophy from Ladies Football President, Marie Hickey. It was the culmination of a brilliant year and a just reward for really good Tipperary team. As the Tipperary Ladies team and Management reflect on a wonderful season of football they can be rightly proud of their great achievements. They have represented Tipperary's great sporting heritage to the highest standards all the way through 2017. They played with full commitment and courage and proved themselves worthy champions at the end of a hectic schedule. They remain unbeaten in 2017 in a run of games that now stretches to sixteen. (Extra time is an official game). It is a tremendous record on which to sign off the year. Firstly, our congratulations to all associated with ladies football in Tipperary both past and present. This is a victory for all to share in. The Management team deserve great praise. They prepared the girls extremely well and used their vast experience, and management skills to great effect. During the year they have given huge commitment of their time from the opening League game on a cold and damp January day in Enniscorthy to the All-Ireland Final in the September sunshine in Croke Park. The entire panel of players can be extremely proud of their hard work and dedication during the year. Those who did not play on the day can be satisfied that they made their starting colleagues better players by competing for places and pushing the football standard to a very high level. To the players on the day they were magnificent one and all they gave everything they had and left it all on the field of play. The County Board officials and the Tipperary Ladies football clubs who provide the supporting infrastructure through their many volunteers can also be proud of their contribution to this win. To the parents of the players, these girls are tremendous and we would like to thank you for supporting them in playing Ladies Football. Our generous sponsors Camida and others who have supported Tipperary Ladies on this great journey and the many supporters who came to Croke Park to support the team on the day -Thank you all and well done.
Team - Lauren Fitzpatrick; Siobhan Condon, Maria Curley, Emma Buckley; Brid Condon, Samantha Lambert (C), Laura Dillon; Aisling McCarthy (1-4, 4f), Jennifer Grant; Niamh Lonergan, Mairead Morrissey (0-2), Aishling Moloney (0-1), Orla O'Dwyer, Gillian O'Brien (0-4), Roisin Howard (0-2).
Subs used - Caoimhe Condon for Niamh Lonergan (47th), Catriona Walsh for Roisin Howard (56th).
Panel - Patricia Hickey, Anna Rose Kennedy, Rachael O'Donnell, Sarah Everard, Laura Morrissey, Anna Carey, Elaine Kelly, Alison Lonergan, Aine Fitzgerald, Evrena Everard, Nicola Loughnane, Elaine Fitzpatrick, Aoibhe O'Shea.
Manager - Shane Ronayne.
Mentors - Alan O'Connor, Elaine Harte, Tony Smith.
Physio - Ronan Crosse.