Masita Meath Ladies Senior Final
Venue: Donaghmore/Ashbourne GAA club
October 13th 2018
Simonstown 6-13 Seneschalstown 0-12
Referee: Paul Mooney
Scríobh Mickí McGabhann as Tír Conaill faoi Rotha Mòr an tSaoil. McGowan wrote a classic about the wheels of life always turning. A year ago Simonstown men were Meath senior champions, Dunboyne Ladies started their All Ireland quest. A year later Dunboyne men’s team are in the county final and Simonstown ladies are Meath champions. Ten years ago this weekend Dunboyne U14s defeated Simonstown girls in a wet Skryne day. This Saturday nine of that defeated Simonstown girls supped at the top table of Meath Ladies football. Ten years ago Seneschalstown were Meath Ladies champions. Two of the Sheridan’s and Aurelita Everard lined out in this years final.
Enough sentimental reminiscing and serendipity. Ashbourne was as wet and miserable as Skryne was ten years ago. Seneschalstown started the stronger team. Mary Sheridan and her sister Mena, called the midfield shots for the first fifteen minutes. Orla Finnegan led the Simonstown back a line a merry dance and the scoreboard reflected that supremacy, 0-4 to 0-1. Individual interventions from the Sky Blue Ladies led the final ball mopped up by a Sheridan or a Monaghan. Seneschalstown looked good as the first fifteen ticked by. The sense of urgency was palpable in the stand from the Simonstown followers.
Then Jackie Shiels bobbled to the surface. She had kicked the first two scores for the Sky Blues before taking charge and grabbing her team mates, metaphorically, by the scruff of the neck. Inside a three minute spell Simonstown had netted twice and possibly against the run of play. But led on by Shiels, Simonstown turned the screw. Shiels goal was brilliantly executed, chasing a long ball punted in, Jackie twice looking over opposite shoulders watching its flight before sliding the bobbling ball past the excellent Cathy Anne Crowley.
That should have knocked the stuffing out of Seneschalstown but amazingly it didn’t. A minute before half time they had clawed back to within a point of their opponents. Then disaster, a breakaway and Ailbhe McHugh pulled the trigger. Instead of going in a point down at half time, the score read 3-4 to 0-9. Goals win games and Simonstown had dislodged a few boulders in Seneschalstown’s confidence locker. Half Time would now give both sides a chance to reflect.
The second half started with Simonstown locking the Seneschalstown defence inside their own half. Two rapid points, a Jackie Shiels master class in leadership and how to slow down or speed up a game. Fifteen minutes into the second half before Seneschalstown scored but more goals Ailbhe McHugh, Nesbitt and Kelly Harris tore the heart out of the Blue and Yellow. Both Sheridan’s battled hard, as did the excellent Orla Finnegan but by now Simonstown had gone into overdrive. Tara Berrigan scored a goal like Shiels first half goal, long ball, head looking back, ball bounced in front of Tara and shuffled into the net. Eve Wardick came on and kicked a wonderful and popular point. However her work rate exemplified a well drilled outfit. Now every Simonstown player was on fire. I have to admit a certain lack of knowledge of the rules vis a vis men’s but the yellow card picked up by Seneschalstown’s Leanne Clarke was in my opinion, harsh. However it hadn’t a bearing on the final result.
Looking through the programme from Naoise De Graffe, under worked but pulled off a great safe at the death, a rock soiled full back line, similarly the half back line with Regina Hand excellent, Niamh Lister does the engine room grimy work, whilst the Sheridan’s dominated the air more or less, Niamh hovered the ground work and started and stopped attacks as needed. Aisling Cassidy took the fight to Seneschalstown in those fraught opening fifteen minutes.
Niamh Cassidy and Ailbhe McHugh are a managers dream, the Donnacha Walshe or Paul Flynn’s of ladies football. Kelley Harris and Kelsey Nesbitt time and time again stormed the citadel that was the Seneschalstown defence. They finally bust it open. Lauryn Greer was the only forward that didn’t score but that was because she worked ceaselessly at midfield and put in a fantastic shift. Woman of the match was Jackie Shiels. What a fantastic leader, player and go to merchant. The subs that came on tell why Simonstown are champions, Emma Cassidy, Mollie Byrne, Eve Wardick, Ellie Lane and Tara Berrigan. With heat like that on the sideline, the starting fifteen need no motivation.
It’s fair to say Seneschalstown gave it their all, urged on by their sideline mentors to the last. Oral Finnegan was outstanding, Rosin Commons ran herself into the ground. The Sheridan lasses confirmed what the crowd knew, sheer class. Louise Coyle belted a fine point, the Monaghan girls tenacious to the last. They will come again. But Saturday was Simonstown day. In Skryne in October 2008 I had my day v Ronan Carley and his girls. Ten years later, Ronan and his ladies, and nine from that U14 team, stand top of the Meath Football Hill. Maith síbh a chailiní, tá sé tuilte duibh uilig.
The measure of a great team is how the take victory and defeat. April gone by Dunboyne narrowly defeated Simonstown in the delayed 2017 League Final. They and their chairman Fearghal O’hAthairne were gracious losers that day. Ashbourne on Saturday saw the same humble and gracious acceptance from the self same Simonstown personnel. As chair of the Meath ladies and a member also of Simonstown, it was fitting that Fearghal got to present his ladies with their cup.
Different emotions at the end. Seneschalstown downcast, The Sky Blues happy. The Sheridan brothers were there for the Sheridan sisters, how lovely. Mary Murray slipped from Seneschalstown number eight into mammy mode as her children came to her. Family are the life blood of the game. Niamh Sheridan the Simonstown captain paid tribute to All from her club but particularly Michael Cassidy’s generous support on sponsorship. His three girls were a contribution too!
Anne Dungan, photographer and PRO supreme, wiping her camera in the murky weather gave and received hugs from her girls on both teams, younger ones and older ones. Girls never forget those who care. The excellent Donaghmore/Ashbourne GAA facility was appreciated by all concerned. Last week the Ashbourne girls suffered defeat in their county final. A week later Mary O’Shaughnessy, Siofra Cleary and Laurie McClean were on duty for the assembled crowds as were all members of the county board. Finally, much of what culminates in a final depends on the goodwill of sponsors. The contribution of Masita across Meath ladies football is hereby acknowledged. Thank you sponsors. Thank you both teams.
Simonstown team: Naoise De Graaff, Katie Bellew, Paula Fitzgerald, Niamh Sheridan Capt, Aisling Sheridan, Regina Hand, Aoife Farrell, Niamh Lister, Ailing Cassidy, Niamh Cassidy 0-1, Jackie Shiels 1-3, Ailbhe McHugh 1-0, Kelly Harris 1-4, Lauryn Grier, Kelsey Nesbitt 2-4.
Subs used: Emma Cassidy, Mollie Byrne, Eve Wardick 0-1, Karen Foran, Tara Berrigan 1-0.
Seneschalstown: Cathy Anne Cowley; Leanne Clarke, Aoife Lenehan, Aisling Taaffe; Megan Clarke, Louise Coyle 0-1, Aoibhe Monaghan; Mary Murray & Caragh Monaghan; Orla Finnegan 0-4, Shona Loughran, Stacey Grimes 0-5; Roisín Commons 0-2, Mena Sheridan, Seanaidh Hickey Capt.
Subs: Kiah Geraghty, Zoe Kirwin, Sorcha Gough, Natasha Mullen.