Tara are out of the All Ireland series for 2016, after losing to Johnstownbridge after an under-par performance against last year’s champions
The London side went two points up early on, but after conceding five on the bounce they left it all to do in the second half as they clinched one back with the last puck of the ball to go into the break 0-5 to 0-3 down. But they failed to pick up any momentum in the second half as the Kildare side stretched their lead and a late goal didn’t come early enough to pressurise the visitors to Greenford.
Taras started brighter with Fiona Morrissey winning a free right from the throw-in which was put in short by Claire Ryan but cleared by the Johnstownbridge backs. Morrissey would put in a good ball to the full forward line soon afterwards but there was no one on the receiving end, which would be a common trait for much of the match.
A great pass from Caoime Staunton to Morrissey freed the half-forward for a shot, which went just wide before Taras player-of-the-match Denise Gilligan made her first crucial block to stop her side from conceding a goal, this time from Ellen Morgan who was set up by a Siobhan Hurley free.
Taras broke the deadlock on six minutes as Maria Ryan’s quick hands allowed Morrissey to set up Claire Ryan for the first point from play. Hurley’s next attempt on goal was struck wide after some great pressure by Staunton, and Sarah McNicholl and Lucy Hawkes were also extremely efficient in this early period in frustrating the visiting team by not letting them run through near the posts with any ease.
Tara would go two up through a Maria Ryan pointed free soon afterwards and looked like they were on top, having kept Johnstownbridge at bay for the opening fifteen minutes, but it was all to change just after Hurley glanced her next shot wide off of the post. In the first real break for the Kildare champions Roisin O’Connell burst down the left wing and made enough space for herself to get her shot away superbly.
Within two minutes her side would get a further two points, first through a Hurley ’45 after Morgan’s goal shot was saved spectacularly by Gilligan once more, and then through a Hurley close-range free .
Taras were on the backfoot now and Johnstownbridge started to dominate play, as Hurley ran riot, creating chances and winning the next free which she duly slotted over.
There was a nervy period again when Gilligan found herself isolated as Hurley ran in on goal, but she pulled another great block out of the bag to save her side from conceding another goal before Hurley slotted away another free.
In the dying seconds of the first half Maria Ryan struck a well-timed sweet shot from just inside the sideline to narrow the deficit to just two points at the break.
But Siobhan Hurley picked up where she left off in the second half as she got another ’45 after her goal shot was saved again by Gilligan. She was set up well by Aisling Holton for her next score, before Morrissey pulled one back for the Taras with her point just excruciatingly edging over the bar when a goal may have made all the difference.
Claire Hurley added another for the visitors to make it 0-9 to 0- 4, but it looked as though a comeback could be on as the gap was reduced to just two again as Taras got a much-needed goal. It came after great play by Morrissey to pass to Claire Ryan who set up Mary Fenton in on goal, and the substitute made no mistake in making sure her shot ended up in the back of the net.
With just minutes left to play Taras desperately needed another point to build momentum, but they lost out on possession and after pulling out all the stops to try and catch up with Johnstownbridge the visitors capitalised on the extra space and got two final scores on the break through Clodagh Flanagan and O’Connell.
TARA: Denise Gilligan, Joni Traynor, Helen Murphy, Emer Kelly, Joanne Hamilton, Sarah McNicholl, Patricia Marmion, Lucy Hawkes, Caoimhe Staunton, Anna Nyhan, Claire Ryan (0-1), Fiona Morrissey (0-1), Maria Ryan (0-2, 1f), Orlaith Jennings, Emma Hogan BENCH: Aileen Dillon, Lisa Creamer, Mary Fenton (1-0), Helen Hughes, Brid Keating, Catherine McLoughlin, Lisa Fox, Fiona Furlong, Sheila Fernades
JOHNSTOWNBRIDGE: Tanya Johnson, Erin McEvoy, Eimear Hurley, Emma Farrell, Careen Farrell, Aoife Trant, Jane O’Donoghue, Louise Codd, Clodagh Flanagan (0-1), Jenna Murphy, Aisling Holton, Miriam Murphy, Roisin O’Connell (0-2), Siobhan Hurley (0-6, 2 ’45, 3f), Ellen Morgan BENCH: Sally Morrin, Niamh McNally, Leanne Holton, Natasha Farrell, Chloe Doyle, Caoimhe Keoghan, Claire Hurley (0-1), Laura Newman, Shauna Beatty, Aine O’Neil