Tesco Homegrown National Ladies’ League Division Four
Martin Wynne at Strokestown
Having beaten table-toppers Limerick at Dr. Hyde Park two weeks ago, Roscommon made it back-to-back wins in the National League when they recorded a facile win over Derry at Strokestown last Sunday. The victory hoisted the Rossies into fourth spot in Division Four, and a possible semi-final berth awaits if they can secure maximum points from their final two matches against Carlow and Antrim.
Carlow are currently propping up the table, alongside Derry, with three defeats from three matches. So Roscommon will fancy their chances of claiming a victory when the sides meet on March 24th. However, the key fixture will come on April 7th when Kieran Kilkenny takes his charges to Antrim for what is likely to be a make-or-break clash.
The Saffrons should pose a much stiffer test than their Ulster neighbours could manage last Sunday. The Derry ladies were thoroughly outclassed on the day, and the game was over as a contest by the 13th minute as the home side pounced for three early goals.
The visitors briefly led when Aideen Fullen found the posts from close range after 40 seconds. However, it would take 41 minutes for the Derry ladies to add to their tally as they found themselves at the receiving end of a scoring blitz from the Primrose and Blue.
Jenny Higgins started the rout when she cut through the Derry rearguard in the third minute and sent a piledriver to the roof of the net. A second green flag was raised 60 seconds later when Aine O’Brien drilled a low shot under the body of Derry goalkeeper Bridgeen Cassidy.
Laura Brudell opened her account with a point from play after four minutes. Roscommon continued to pile on the pressure but a series of three wides in three minutes offered some respite to Derry.
The Oak Leaf County almost punished their opponent’s profligacy in the ninth minute when a high ball was punched to the net by Aine McCusker. However, it was ruled out by the umpires who adjudged the Derry full-forward to have been inside the square.
Roscommon quickly hit back with points from Jenny Conlon and Niamh Ward. The game swung inexorably in their favour in the 13th minute when a third goal arrived. The fact that it was an own goal was particularly demoralising for Derry.
It came after Roscommon worked the ball in from the right wing, and a high ball was aimed in the direction of Feena Beirne on the edge of the square. The pass had a little too much weight on it but the clearance was fumbled by a Derry defender and the ball squirted over the goal line.
It sent the home side into a 3-3 to 0-1 lead, and they proceeded to dismantle their opponents during the second quarter. Higgins, Rachel Ryan and Brudell added three points in three minutes. A fourth goal arrived on 18 minutes when Feena Beirne volleyed soccer-style to the top corner after the ball broke to her inside the 13-metre line.
Roscommon added eight points in the closing nine minutes. The scorers were Tara Taylor, Brudell, Natalie McHugh, O’Brien (two), Ward, Rachel Ryan and Conlon. It left a 25-point chasm between the sides at the break, 4-14 to 0-1.
A Rachel Ryan point got the scoreboard ticking over within 40 seconds of the restart. Conlon added a fifth goal in the 38th minute after a defence-splitting pass from O’Brien. Martina Freyne, who had been introduced as a half-time substitute, opened her account with a point in the 40th minute. Taylor added another 30 seconds later.
Derry’s 41-minute barren spell came to an end when Rachel Wallis went down under a challenge from Joanne Cregg and a penalty was awarded. Thomasina McGovern converted the spotkick to give the Ulster ladies a bit of a lift.
Derry went on to score five points in the closing 12 minutes to give the scoreboard a slightly more respectable look. Niamh Ni Mhinanain, McGovern (three frees) and Nuala Browne were the scorers. Roscommon took their foot off the gas during the closing quarter, their only two scores coming from the boot of Freyne.
ROSCOMMON: C. Manning; F. Beirne (1-0), N. O’Beirne, S. Brady; L. Fleming, S. Kenny, S. Ryan; J. Higgins (1-1), T. Taylor (0-2); J. Conlon (1-2), N. McHugh (0-1), L. Brudell (0-3); N. Ward (0-2), R. Ryan (0-3), A. O’Brien (1-2). Subs used: E. Beirne for F. Beirne (19 mins), M. Freyne (0-3) for Higgins (half-time), M. Holmes for Brady (half-time), A. Ni Dhonnacha for Brudell (half-time), J. Cregg for Kenny (37 mins), G. Dufficy for Fleming (37 mins), A. McAleer for S. Ryan (47 mins), S. Clabby for R. Ryan (47 mins), J. Hannon for McHugh (47 mins), A. McCloon for N. O’Beirne (51 mins).
DERRY: B. Cassidy; T. Bradley, C. McGurk, S. Kearney; A. Grogan, N. O’Hagan, B. Difflin; M.T. Scullion, D. Donnelly; C. Donaghy, R. Wallis, N. Browne (0-1); A. Fullen (0-1), A. McCusker, T. McGovern (1-3, one penalty, three frees). Subs used: S. McChristie for Donnelly (14 mins), N. Ni Mhinanain (0-1) for Fullen (39 mins), R. Conway for Donaghy (46 mins), A. McGuckian for Difflin (49 mins), B. Difflin for McChristie (53 mins).
Wides: Roscommon – 15; Limerick – 2.
Booked: Roscommon – J. Cregg (41 mins); Derry – none.
Referee: M. Kenny (Mayo).
Player of the Match: Aine O’Brien (Roscommon). The corner-forward from St. Brigid’s was a lively presence in the attacking sector throughout. She scored an early goal and set up a number of scores for others, including the fifth goal which was finished off by Jenny Conlon after O’Brien pulled the Derry defence apart.
Others to make notable contributions on the day were Conlon, Jenny Higgins, Laura Brudell, Niamh Ward, Rachel Ryan and Laura Fleming.
For Derry, there were some decent moments from Thomasina McGovern, Rachel Wallis and Shannon McChristie. Goalkeeper Bridgeen Cassidy warrants a mention for some spectacular saves that kept the goals tally from moving towards double figures.