SPORT — 07 August 2013

London Ladies manager Tommy Donoghue. Picture: Ray Donlon

By David Hennessy

Tommy Donoghue and London Ladies will aim to put a hard 3-11 to 1-6 Leinster final defeat behind them when take on Cavan in their qualifier at Ashbourne this Saturday August 10. If victorious, they will progress to an All-Ireland quarter-final while also taking some revenge for their male counterparts.

“I was very proud of them they left everything on the field and you can’t have any argument if you think that your team left everything on the field. It was just that slight bit of sharpness that you get with plenty of match practice,” the London Ladies manager told The Irish World. The final of two weeks ago was London’s second defeat to Longford, having been beaten by the same opposition by 14 points in their first outing. Tommy led Parnells to All-Ireland club success last December and will be aiming for similar glory with his London team that is captained by Hannah Noonan who was also one of the stars of that campaign.

Anyone watching it will tell you that the score-line of the Leinster final did not reflect the game that it was and Tommy points out that while his team were able to compete with their opposition in all areas, it was making the most of the opportunities that separated the teams: “There were four incidents in the game. It was something we talked about: Concede no goals. If we possibly made two goal chances, if we could take one of them, then it was anybody’s game. As it happened in the first half, we were actually in control, had the ball coming out of defence and they nicked the ball away twice and they buried it. So that was the two goals we conceded. The penalty was fair enough, I wouldn’t have any problem with that. But then that same half we tore them apart at times and we were in twice, just the goalkeeper to beat from ten yards out and we blasted both of them wide. There was a four goal turnaround really and that was the difference because they won by eleven points. The game was very, very even, we had improved a lot from the first day. The problem being that they have played, I think, 18 matches this year already. That was only our third game. That’s the big problem we have.”

Renee Murphy limped out of the Leinster final and Tommy believes her hamstring injury may not be as serious as first thought. But having lost stars like Parnells’ midfield general Niamh Fahey and Bronagh Sheridan who has returned to her native Cavan and will be opposing her former coach and team mates has already hit Tommy’s squad. However, his panel will be further depleted by players away on holiday: “No county can afford to lose two players (Fahey and Sheridan) of that quality. If we had had them, we would be Leinster champions now. But that’s just the way it goes. She (Fahey)’ll be back next year hopefully.

London’s Angela Kenneally in action against Longford

“We’re really, really hit for this game coming up. There’s six of the squad gone on holiday which is a killer. People do book their holidays very early. There would be girls who wouldn’t have thought they were going to be in the county squad because it’s hard to get it started early here. We were into April before we started picking the squad.”

“This year is the first year we were in Leinster and it’s a learning process but there’s no doubt about it, we’re quite capable with a little bit more planning, we’re very capable of winning of Leinster, very capable.”

What doesn’t help London is having to travel back to Ireland for each encounter. The endless travelling takes its toll on the players involved not to mention the finances: “The decision was made to put London in Leinster and London wasn’t there at the Leinster meetings when they proposed this and then brought it to Central Council and they passed it without consultation with London. Then they passed it that we have to play all our games at home (Ireland) which is a crazy thing to do and then they passed it that if we got to the final it would be played in the home county’s ground. It’s never been done before so every blockage you could put has been up against us, but I’ve always tried to be positive and we’ve used that as a learning process.

London Ladies take on Cavan at Ashbourne at 3.45pm on Saturday August 10.

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