London Ladies’ Croke Park dream ended by extra-time Fermanagh defeat
By Damian Dolan
London Ladies can hold their heads high after they came within minutes of reaching a first All-Ireland final for nine years, says Exiles boss Tommie Donohue after the his side’s heart-breaking 1-24 to 3-17 extra-time defeat to Fermanagh in their Ladies Junior Football Championship semi-final.
The Exiles twice looked to have seen off the Erne County in their Junior Football Championship semi-final clash at Lannleire Pavilion, Dunleer, in Louth, on Sunday only for a fortuitous 61st minute goal to force extra-time, and for Fermanagh to then snatch victory with the last kick of a pulsating game.
“I’d be very proud of all of the girls. Not one of them didn’t leave everything they had out there on that pitch,” said Donohue.
“They did London and Britain proud, and they can hold their heads up high. They really did put in a performance, but it’s a terrible way to lose. They were a kick of a ball away from winning it.
“To score 3-17 and lose is a hard one to take. If you’d told me before the game we’d score that I’d say ‘well, we’ll win by eight or nine points’.
“We just weren’t clinical enough when we had them on the run. We didn’t nail them, and it came back to haunt us.”
The sides were level nine times in a contest that soon took on epic proportions. London led by two points at half-time before second half goals from Hannah Noonan, captain Helen Hughes and Ailish Healy put them three clear by the 58th minute, only for Nuala McManus’ late lobbed effort to deceive everyone and find to back of the London net to force extra-time.
But the London Ladies responded well to that set-back by opening up a four-point lead during the first period of extra-time, only for Fermanagh to fight back with Aisling Maguire scoring a sensational 84th minute winner.
“It was an absolute cracking semi-final; some of the scores were magic. It was a great game. But there’s no doubt that we left it behind us,” added Donohue.
“We were the better team and we should have won it. It’s an All Ireland left behind.”