Tyrone ladies power on to All-Ireland final.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Tyrone ladies power on to All-Ireland final. thumbnailThe Tyrone ladies team who defeated Sligo to reach the All-Ireland Ladies Intermediate Final

Tyrone's style, pace and class propelled a talented side to a place in the All-Ireland Ladies Intermediate Football Championship final, and a trip to Croke Park to take on Tipperary later this month.


The Red Hands were well wort their eight points win at Kingspan Breffni, where they powered ahead with a dominant second half performance.

Niamh O'Neill scored the all-important goal just before half-time to put daylight between the sides, and the Ulster champions never looked back.

An inspirational performance from team captain Neamh Woods, along with massive contributions from defender Caoileann Conway and midfielder Meabh Mallon, helped Gerry Moane's side brush aside the challenge of the Yeats county.

"We had so many chances, it was just a matter of time before we finished one, and it came at the right time, just before the end of the first half," said Woods, reflecting on a string of goal opportunities that were missed in the opening half.

"We knew ourselves with the amount of openings and chances we created, that eventually the goal would come." Now the Red Hands are on their way back to Croker on September 24, for their first appearance since 2010, when they contested the senior final against Dublin.

"We're absolutely delighted - 2010 seems like a long time ago.

Our team is very changed, we have a lot of young and new players coming forward in the last number of years, and we're really excited about the end of September," said the team captain.

Last season, Tyrone lost to Clare in the quarter-final, but much preparation has gone into a renewed challenge in 2017.

"We were bitterly disappointed with our performance, and at the start of this year we wanted to make sure we got beyond that stage.

"We did have along lay-off from the Ulster Championship, so we were well ready for that game, and we're just delighted to get over another hurdle and we look forward to a final now." O'Neill hit the opening score, and they created the first of many goal chances, but Grainne Rafferty was denied by goalkeeper Noelle Gormley.

Gemma Begley and Maria Canavan added scores from frees, but Sligo opened their account through Elaine O'Reilly.

Begley and Gorman traded points, and at the beginning of the second quarter, Tyrone created another goal chance, but Begley sent her shot over the bar.

Sligo rallied for another Gorman score, but once again, Tyrone sliced open the Yeats defence, with Begley sending Meabh but she too opted for a point when three points could have been there for the taking.

Christiane Hunter set up yet another goal chance, this time for Niamh Hughes, and once again, a point was the outcome.

Sligo hit a string of wides, but drew level with scores from Laura Ann Laffey and Gorman, but on the stroke of half-time, Tyrone finally did hit the net, Begley crossing for O'Neill to palm home for a 1-7 to 0-7 interval lead.

They extended the advantage with scores form Rafferty and substitute Lycrecia Quinn soon after the restart, and while Gorman pulled back a point, the Red Hands, chalked up six scores on the spin.

Rafferty and O'Neill tagged on points, but Sligo were awarded a penalty in the 45th minute for a foul on Sinead McTiernan. However, goalkeeper Shannon Lynch rose to the challenge, saving Denise McGrath's kick.

Woods capped another driving run with a well taken point, and there were scores from Rafferty and O'Neill as the Ulster standard-bearers stretched the lead out to ten.

The Connacht girls pulled back a couple of scores through Stephanie O'Reilly and Nicola Brennan, but Tyrone finished on a high with a fine point from substitute Emma Hegarty.

Tyrone scorers: Niamh O'Neill 1-4 (0-1 free), Gemma Begley (2 frees), Grainne Rafferty 0-3 each, Maria Canavan (free), Niamh Hughes, Meabh Mallon, Neamh Woods, Emma Hegarty, Lycrecia Quinn 0-1 each.

Sligo scorers: Ciara Gorman 0-5 (1 free), Stephanie O'Reilly 0-2, Laura-Ann Laffey, Elaine O'Reilly, Nicola Brennan, Lisa Casey 0-1 each.

Tyrone: Shannon Lynch; Emma Brennan, Joanne Barrett, Caoleann Conway; Neamh Woods, Emma Louise Mulgrew, Christiane Hunter; Meabh Mallon, Emma Jane Gervin; Niamh Hughes, Maria Canavan, Emma Smyth; Niamh O'Neill, Gemma Begley, Grainne Rafferty.

Subs: Lycrecia Quinn for Canavan, Emma Hegarty for Smyth, Shannon Cunningham for Barrett, Aine Canavan for Hughes.

Sligo: Noelle Gormley; Etna Flanagan, Grainne O'Loughlin, Jacqui Mulligan; Lauren Boles, Elise Codd, Ruth Goodwin; Bernice Byrne, Sarah Reynolds; Aine Gormley, Stephanie O'Reilly, Laura Ann Laffey; Ciara Gorman, Elaine O'Reilly, Denise McGrath.

Subs: Sinead McTiernan for E O'Reilly, Katie Walsh for Laffey, Nicola Brennan for McGrath, Lisa Casey for A Gormley, Michelle McNamara for Flanagan.


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