Finnegan to the Fore as Ladies Advance

Kepak Senior Championship Round 3

Seneschalstown 1-08 Royal Gaels 1-06

Seneschalstown ensured qualification to the semi-finals of the Kepak Senior Championship for the first time since 2019 after coming out the better side of what turned out to be a low scoring affair away to Royal Gaels on Sunday morning. The girls knew they would need at least a draw to book their passage to the last four, but they were able to match what their male counterparts did on Friday night, by beating the Dunshaughlin club and in the process nicking top spot to earn a semi-final against Oldcastle. In their first year back in the senior ranks, Royal Gaels were already qualified prior to throw-in and the result leaves them looking forward to a tussle with defending champions Dunboyne at the penultimate hurdle.

Most of the scoring was done in the opening half with some excellent point taking and a wonderful Orla Finnegan goal leaving Seneschalstown three to the good at half-time. There were only 3 points scored between the teams thereafter.

The home side were first on the scoreboard for the hour with a point from play after two minutes. It took Seneschalstown eight minutes to get their first score of the game, Orla Finnegan cutting onto her right foot and popping the ball over the bar. Less than a minute later, Stacey Grimes intercepted a Royal Gaels pass and ran straight at the heart of their defence. She laid the ball off to the supporting Finnegan who made no mistake in front of goal, getting point number two. The home side levelled up proceedings for the second time shortly afterwards, but that would be the last time the teams were on parity.

In the twelfth minute, a good handpassing move involving Tara Traynor and Grimes among others, centre back Róisín Commons got on the end of the move to add her name to the scoresheet. Seeven minutes later, Seneschalstown found themselves in an even stringer position.

The aforementioned Grimes was causing the home side major problems and she picked out Orla Finnegan with a kick pass in behind. Finnegan turned and superbly fired the ball across the goalkeeper into the bottom left hand corner of the net to open a four point gap as the whistle went for the water break.

Seneschalstown would have been hoping to add their advantage straight away, but unfortunately the opposite was to occur. A high ball into the full forward line was broken down to a Royal Gaels player who composed herself to pull on it first time and raise a green flag for her team. The character of this Seneschalstown side though, was to shine through as they wiped out this goal within five minutes. Firstly, Kiah Geraghty pointed from long range before the referee spotted an off the ball foul on a Seneschalstown player from which Grimes punished to put three points between the teams. Orla Finnegan then brought her tally for the half to 1-03 with another clinical effort, before teams swapped frees to close out the half with the visitors in the driving seat to qualify at that stage.

The scoring rate dropped significantly in the second half with both sides guilty of some poor decision making, but to be fair to both defences they started to get on top. The first score of the half arrived right on the cusp of the water break, a pointed free for the home side. Seneschalstown could have had another goal on a few occasions if the final pass had been crisper, but crucially they were still ahead entering the final quarter. With two long stoppages in the final fifteen minutes, Seneschalstown had to wait until the 61st minute to score again, the ever reliable Grimes knocking over a free to leave the visitors with a cushion of a goal. The last score of the game came courtesy of a Royal Gaels free, but the drama certainly hadn’t finished yet. As the clock ticked on towards the eighth minute of stoppage time, the home side fashioned one last goal chance. With her sides Championship ambitions on the line, Robyn Murray spread herself to expertly deny the Royal Gaels player. Had the ball found the net, it would have stolen top spot in the group for the home side, as well as knock Seneschalstown out of the championship as a result of Simonstown Gaels win over Boardsmill. Alas, Seneschalstown cleared the resulting 45’ and were able to celebrate victory and qualification to the last four.

Seneschalstown: Robyn Murray, Leanne Clarke, Eve Wardick, Aisling Taaffe, Meadhbh Hickey, Róisín Commons (0-01), Caragh Monaghan, Kiah Geraghty (0-01), Aoibhe Monaghan, Tara Traynor, Stacey Grimes (0-03fs), Orla Finnegan (1-03), Amy Gilsenan, Louise Coyle, Anna Wogan.

Subs Used: Mena Sheridan, Kellie Stafford

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