Tipperary retained the All Ireland Minor ‘B’ Ladies Footall title with a 3-12 to 3-8 win over Armagh at Kinnegad on Saturday.
Despite playing against the breeze, they enjoyed a great start with two early points from Orla O’Dwyer.
Armagh began to settle and Aoife Kane scored the game’s first goal followed by a point by senior player Aimee Mackin.
Another Armagh goal from Blaithin Mackin put them 2-1 to 0-2 ahead.
But Tipp replied quickly with Orla O’Dwyer hitting a goal following good work from Roisin Howard and Kate Davey.
Armagh went three up through Aoibhinn Henderson but Niamh Treacy used her strength to her marker and unleash an unstoppable shot past the Armagh keeper. Remarkably Tipperary were now back on level terms having soaked up immense Armagh pressure.
This was due in no small way to the tremendous work rate by all six Tipperary defenders - Laura Morrissey, Maria Curley and Grainne Condon in the full back line and Elaine Kelly, Louise Cadell and Aoife Corcoran in the half back line were simply outstanding in dealing with the potent Armagh attacking threat.
Tipperary were now enjoying a purple patch notwithstanding playing against the wind and Armagh appeared a little shell shocked. An Aishling Moloney point for Tipperary saw them take the lead once more and when a further two points for Tipperary followed from the boots of Aoibhe O’Shea and Orla O’Dwyer, Tipperary were ahead by three points, 2-5 to 2-2 and growing in confidence.
Armagh now injected some urgency once more and when Tipperary midfielder Aishling Moloney was deemed to have tripped an Armagh attacker in front of goal, she was sin binned for the remainder of the first half.
Tipperary were now down to fourteen players against the wind and this could have been a match turning event such was the energy sapping pace at which the game was being played.
The Tipperary girls responded immediately with every player increasing their own work rate. Tipperary’s management made some swift decisions and a number of the Tipperary forwards were now seen back assisting their midfield and defence. Top scorer Orla O’Dwyer popped up at wing back on one occasion and less than a minute later had Tipperary’s third goal scored at the other end of the field. This must have been a blow to the Armagh girls who were now behind by six points despite having the extra player and wind assistance. In their next attack Tipperary goalie Emer McCarthy made a top class save when Armagh looked certain to score. Now in added time in the first half Armagh finished with a point having been held scoreless for almost fifteen minutes to leave it 3-5 to 2-3 at half time.
When Tipperary’s Kate Davey pointed almost immediately on the resumption, many in the sizable travelling support expected Tipperary to now press on and add to their six point advantage, especially with Aishling Moloney now back on board.
However it was now Armagh’s turn to strike back and an Aimee Mackin goal on 34 minutes saw them once more back in contention. An Aoibhe O’Shea point and another from Aishling Moloney from play steadied the ship a little in the 37th and 38th minute but Armagh were now enjoying some quality possession and using long delivered ball up the wings in an attempt to get their dangerous forwards quality ball.
A poor Tipperary clearance was punished with an Armagh point and almost immediately a second clearance was again punished when Tipperary failed to win their own kick out. The game was now back to three points, 3-8 to 3-5 with Armagh growing in confidence once more.
The teams now traded a further two points from Tipperary’s Orla O’Dwyer and Armagh’s best player Aimee Mackin. Aoibhe O’Shea added another fine point putting Tipperary four ahead with just over ten minutes remaining. Tipperary introduced Evrena Everard for Kate Davey up front and she was quickly onto ball and keeping possession in the Armagh half of the field. Shania Dowling was also introduced for Laura Morrissey in defence and she too added some fresh impetus to the Tipperary defence.
Tipperary goalie Emer McCarthy, as she has done throughout this campaign, made two crucial saves from marauding Armagh forwards when they looked certain to score. An Armagh goal at this stage would have been critical but Tipperary held firm and even when Armagh closed the gap to two points with five minutes remaining, there was no panic.
It was now a two point game but Tipperary were keeping possession up front in the Armagh half of the field and when Niamh Treacy unleashed a fine point from distance nothing but a goal would save Armagh. Eimear Loughman now replaced the hard working Caoimhe Condon in the Tipperary attack.
Tipperary’s Orla O’Dwyer scored the next and final score of the game with time up.
This was a consummate team performance from all Tipperary players. The management team of Anthony O’Brien, Siobhan Condon, Mary O’Shea and Pat Morrissey had their homework done and Tipperary were well up to the task in hand. Aishling Moloney was presented with player of the match afterwards for an outstanding midfield display. In truth any number of the Tipperary ladies could have been selected such were the performances on display.
Orla O’Dwyer up front with 2-5 from play tormented the Armagh defence throughout; captain Elaine Fitzpatrick in midfield was a powerhouse covering every blade of grass, Maria Curley at full back steady as a rock, Elaine Kelly at half back who had the unenviable job of watching Armagh senior player Aimee Mackin throughout, goalkeeper Emer McCarthy for her three crucial saves during the game.
Captain Elaine Fitzpatrick accepted the cup on behalf of the Tipperary team from Joe Lagan, Vice President, Ladies Gaelic Football Association. She thanked her management team for the work put in and praised her team’s performance saying it was a joy to be associated with the girls. Afterwards the team returned to the Horse and Jockey for a much appreciated dinner and then onwards to Templemore, home of Captain, Elaine Fitzpatrick where the team were paraded through the town on a suitable decorated blue and gold tractor and trailer.
Tipperary: Emer McCarthy, Aherlow; Laura Morrissey, Brian Borus; Maria Curley, Templemore; Grainne Condon, Aherlow; Elaine Kelly, Cappawhite; Louise Cadell, Templemore; Aoife Corcoran, Cahir; Aishling Moloney, Cahir (0-2); Elaine Fitzpatrick (Capt) Templemore; Caoimhe Condon, Brian Borus; Roisin Howard, Cahir; Aoibhe O’Shea, Mullinahone (0-3); Orla O’Dwyer, Boherlahan (2-5); Niamh Treacy, Templemore (1-1); Kate Davey, Fethard (0-1).
Subs used: Evrena Everard, Moyle Rovers for Kate Davey (50 mins); Shania Dowling, Moyle Rovers for Laura Morrissey (52 mins); Eimear Loughman, Cappawhite for Caoimhe Condon (54 mins).
Panel: Holly O’Dwyer Thurles Sarsfields; Megan Shanahan Moyle Rovers; Aine Dunne, Mullinahone; Saoirse McGeever, Clonmel Commercials; Breana O’Gorman, Moycarkey Borris; Aine O’Carroll, Arravale Rovers; Roisin Finnane, Galtee Rovers; Miriam Campion, Templemore; Niamh Coffey, Boherlahan; Lisa Currivan, Boherlahan; Heather Phelan, Sliabh na mBan; Sarah Morrissey, Aherlow; Orla Burke, Moyle Rovers.
Management: Anthony O’Brien, Siobhan Condon, Pat Morrissey, Mary O’Shea. Physio: Aidan Bradshaw.