All-Ireland Ladies JFC Group A Rnd 1
By Larry Cooney
At Clara GAA grounds, Kilkenny
A new era for London Ladies could not have got off to a better start after a facile victory over Kilkenny at Clara GAA grounds last Sunday morning.
Not only did it rain for the first time in four weeks but it also rained goals with 11 in total during this goal-fest, as the visiting Exiles went on a scoring spree from the throw-in during a one-sided contest.
Almost 11 years ago Kilkenny recorded a very famous All-Ireland final victory over the Exiles, but only one team looks destined for Croke Park this year on this showing.
And apart from the fixture being manager Paddy Bowles’ first competitive match in charge, the Exiles were without the services of expectant mother Hannah Noonan, but against last Sunday’s opposition the London star was hardly missed.
The stand-out performance in Clara was undoubtedly London’s Lisa Cafferky, who finished with a personal tally of 4-7.
And it took only 30 seconds for the London corner forward to find the net at the pavilion end of the Kilkenny venue.
That early score really rocked the hosts and they were constantly on the backfoot, particularly in the opening half.
London’s midfield partnership of Naoimhin Daly and Kathryn Canavan dominated the opening quarter to provide the platform for a constant supply to a very voracious forward line.
And it was all one-way traffic for much of the opening 20 minutes. After Cafferky’s early green flag she soon followed that score with a point before further goals from herself in the fourth minute, and a minute later from Catriona McGahan to open up a 3-1 to 0-0 lead.
When Rosin Allen missed a scoreable free for Kilkenny after a mistake by the London goalkeeper a minute later the hosts knew it was not going to be their day.
London piled on even more pressure and were rewarded with another unanswered 2-5 before an opportunist goal from Ciara Coone in the 22nd minute, the result was never in doubt.
London’s goals came from Fiona Morrissey and Avril Kilkelly direct from a free in the 17th minute. Avril Kilkelly also scored 0-2 with Cafferky also adding 0-3.
But London’s reply to Kilkenny’s lone first-half score was the completion of Cafferky’s hat-trick in the 25th minute followed by three more points from Kilkelly.
In between these white flags London also continued to build up an unassailable half-time lead with further goals from Cafferky and Morrissey to leave the amazing score at the interval: London 8-9 Kilkenny 1-0.
Now playing into the Kilkenny city end as the misty rain intensified, London resisted the temptation to empty the bench at half-time. Consequently they continued where they left off with an early pointed free from Cafferky.
Although Kilkenny midfielder Ailis O’Shea was on target with a point in the 33rd minute, London soon ended any prospect of a mini Kilkenny revival with four more unanswered points from Cafferky (0-2), including another free, Avril Kilkelly and Brid Murphy.
The Exiles then made a double substitution with Clodagh Brennan and Claire O’Sullivan replacing Morrissey and top scorer Cafferky after 40 minutes.
The worsening conditions then led a lull in the scoring rate with no further scores until the 47th minute when Ailish O’Shea had another Kilkenny point.
Although that score was immediately cancelled out by a Brid Murphy point a poor defensive clearance landed at the feet of Roisin Allen, who provided the assist for Aobha O’Gorman to score Kilkenny’s second goal with ten minutes remaining.
That consolation score was also the last time Kilkenny troubled the score-keeper with the visitors closing out a one-sided contest by recording a further 1-3 before Cork referee PJ Ahern blew the final whistle.
Clodagh Brennan and Avril Kilkelly (0-2) kicked the points in between Brid Murphy hitting the Kilkenny net for the ninth time four minutes from the end to leave the final score: London 9-18 Kilkenny 2-2.
Scorers: London – Lisa Cafferkey 4-7, (0-3)f, Avril Kilkelly 1-8(1-4)f, Fiona Morrissey 2-0, Bridget Murphy 1-2, Catriona McGahan 1-0 and Clodagh Brennan 0-1. Kilkenny – Ciara Coone and Aobha O’Gorman 1-0 each, Ailish O’Shea 0-2.
London: Anne Murphy; Martha Jordan, Ruanne Hunt, Nicole Mulholland; Noel Cocoman, Catherine Bassett, Faye Dunne; Naoimhin Daly, Kathryn Canavan; Brid Murphy, Avril Kilkelly, Rebecca Mills; Lisa Cafferkey, Fiona Morrissey, Catriona McGahan. Subs: Clodagh Brennan for Fiona Morrissey 40, Claire O’Sullivan for Lisa Cafferkey 40.
Kilkenny: Niamh Sheehy; Allanah Keegan, Ailis O’Neill, Michelle Farrell, Ailbhe Galway, Rebecca Brennan, Saoirse Comerford; Ailish O’Shea, Caoilfhionn Horgan; Ciara Coone, Aobha O’Gorman, Sinead McGrane; Roisin Allen, Aoife Dunne, Jane Cass. Subs: Tina Wright for Allanah Keegan 18, Lynn Beirne for Roisin Allen 53, Lisa Norris for Rebecca Brennan 53. Roisin Crowe for Michelle Farrell 42.
Referee: PJ Ahern (Cork).