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Irish Voice Sport
Dog Bite Not Terrible
November 28, 2007
By Eugene Kyne
Underdogs 1-11 NY Ladies GAA 2-6
ON a beautiful day at a marvelously presented Gaelic Park on Saturday, the wait was finally over for New York as they faced off against the combination squad from Ireland, the Underdogs.
The visiting side is the result of a reality show in Ireland where players are called in from all sources, but they cannot have played senior football for their respective counties. The game was an intense and tight battle throughout, with the result in doubt down to the waning moments.
The Underdogs did have most of the attacking opportunities in the second half after the contest was all square at the half, but wasteful shooting left the door open for New York. They had a free and an attack in the last two minutes that could have tied the game up and sent it into overtime, but it was not to be.
The locals can be delighted with their contribution to the encounter that was beamed live to Ireland via Irish TV station TnaG. While the result will be painful at the present time, as history looks upon it, the occasion will stand out as a benchmark in the growth of ladies football in the U.S.
The ceremonial throw in of the football to begin the game was made by John Riordan, vice chairman of the GAA in New York. The Underdogs had a pair of attacks to open the game, but good defensive work by Aoife Gibson and Joanne Courtney cleared the lines for New York.
A long free from Geraldine Norton dropped dangerously into the square, and again Gibson was to the rescue. But the pressure finally paid off with Aisling NiAnnaidh tapping over.
New York reacted in the best way possible with an attack that resulted in a wide, but the short kickout was won by Rosie O’Reilly and she equalized from play. In the following moments Joanne McKenna linked with Denise Dunnion and took off on a 20 yard run from the end line; she went all the way to the front of the goal and deposited the ball in the net.
It was a short lived lead as the visitors replied with the next four points unanswered. Frees from Norton and Laura Buckley from the right and left sides respectively were followed by two from play from Kilduff and Buckley, who is known by her nickname Huggy Buggs. A club mate of the Gooch, Colm Cooper, she was a constant thorn for the New York defense.
The locals took the wave of pressure and replied with an extended period of dominance. They had three of the next four points to go ahead by one after captain McKenna chipped over and Linda McKeon stormed through the center with a brilliant point.
Buckley had a goal chance that was deflected over by a brave Tina Dengler, but again New York attacked. Joanne Courtney, who was tailing Eadaoine Lenihan all over the field, found herself in front of goal for a pass from McKenna, and she shot over.
Then Sue Bennett won the ball and charged in to thunder a shot off the crossbar, and Ciara Moore took the rebound and sent a bullet flying agonizingly wide. Ciara Ni Bhrugha had the equalizer as the half wound down in what was to this point a fantastic outing.
Two frees in the first two minutes from Norton pushed the Underdogs into a two point lead as the second half opened, with Ni Bhrugha adding a third when she was found by Buckley, but it was definitely a goal chance that went a begging.
New York’s only chance in the first seven minutes at the offensive end was a long free from McKenna that was cleared easily. Again the visitors attacked, with Ni Bhrugha setting Norton free for an easy score. It pushed the lead out to four points and it looked as if the game was getting set for fruition. T
But the locals were not in the mode to surrender that easily, and they came back into the game with Mary Maguire and McKeon leading the way. A long ball found Bennett. She was fouled hard by Eimer McGlade, who was sent to the sin bin for her trouble.
McKenna tapped the free over and the kick out was again won by Maguire, who set Kelly McArdle free on the 35 yard line. The kid wonder turned and sent a long looping shot to the net for a brilliant goal that propelled the home side into a one point lead, 2-6 to 0-11.
The guests had five clear cut chances in the following minutes, but wides from Norton and Ni Bhrugha left the home side still clinging to a slim lead. McKenna had a free that went wide, but again the Underdogs attacked and were hurt by wides. Katie Ni Loingsigh had a long solo run that could have ended up with more, but she blasted wide with players inside.
Finally all the pressure paid off for the traveling squad when a three player move that began from a free in the center circle found Buckley open in front of goal. She shot to the net to give her side a two point lead with five minutes left in the game. It was the first score for either side in 20 minutes and it was a dagger blow to the local side.
With the Underdogs in a two point lead with seconds ticking away, New York took a blow when McKenna was given a yellow and shown the sin bin. It left the home side at a numerical disadvantage, but they forced an attack and were awarded a free that went agonizingly wide from the boot of McArdle.
The resulting kick out found safe hands with McGlade, and the danger was averted and the final whistle sounded to jubilant cheers from the Underdog bench.
The winners showed clearly that they had been well schooled by their intelligent use of the ball, the continued back up of each other and their possession use of the football. McGlade was terrific at full back, a player of the game performance. Even her yellow card was done for the right reason, and it stopped a certain goal.
Aoife Wynne and Blaithin Brennan were others that caught the eye in the defense. Katie NiLoingsigh was the most dominant of the four center fielders. Her galloping runs time and again put the New York rearguard at odds. She was never taken out of the game and she needed to be addressed but was allowed to dictate.
Ni Annaidh had an excellent afternoon after a hesitant start, Laura (Huggy Buggs) was a close second to McGlade for honors, Norton and Ni Bhrugha contributed six points and both had periods of sheer dominance.
New York was well served by the late addition Dengler in goal. She did very well under the dropping ball and with some timely saves. The stop on Buckley that was deflected over was huge. Despite some errant kick outs she impressed.
Joanne Courtney, Aoife Gibson, Tracey Ann McCullough and Shuvaun Neville all impressed at different times in the defense. Linda McKeon had splashes of brilliance — her point was outstanding.
Mary Maguire could have been used in the full back line. Her natural position in the second half when Norton was dominant.
All told midfield went to the Underdogs. Ciara Moore was player of the game for New York. She foraged far and wide and her runs up the wing were inspiring.
Joanne McKenna had a tremendous first half. The goal was a touch of class. Sue Bennett could have turned the game around with her drive of the post that cannoned on goal.
Kelly McArdle’s goal was tremendous, and Denise Dunnion had an instrumental outing and was unlucky to be taken off. Nuala Carroll was played out of position when she arrived and could have been pulled out to the wing where she normally plays for better results.
It was all told a brilliant display from a team that did not have the luxury of challenge games before the outing, and they can walk tall while reminiscing on the historic day.
New York: 1 Tina Dengler, 2 Katrina Lynch, 3 Joanne Monaghan, 4 Joanne Courtney (0-1), 5 Tracey Ann McCullough, 6 Aoife Gibson, 7 Imelda Mullarkey, 8 Linda McKeon (0-1), 9 Mary Maguire, 10 Rosie O’Reilly (0-1), 11 Joanne McKenna (1-3), 12 Ciara Moore, 13 Denise Dunnion, 14 Sue Bennett, 15 Kelly McArdle (1-0). Subs: Shuvaun Neville for Lynch (23 mins.), Caroline Murphy for Dunnion (40 mins.), Nuala Carroll for Bennett (50 mins.).
Referee: Eileen Jones (Dungannon, Co. Tyrone). Her Uncle Iggy was a standout for Tyrone in days past. She issued four yellows and was adjudged to have hindered by some. I thought she whistled consistently all day and made the same calls at the end as she did at the beginning, which is all you can ask any ref to do.
A moment of silence before the game was observed in remembrance of Patrick Dooley, father of New York GAA chairman Seamus Dooley. May he rest in peace.
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