Dublin Ladies Football
St Brigid’s Vs Foxrock/Cabinteely : Match Report
St Brigid’s 1-6 – 1-11 Foxrock/Cabinteely
From the fifteenth minute when Foxrock/Cabinteely took a three point to one lead, they never really looked like they’d be beaten. They had stretched their lead to 0-6 to 0-1 shortly before the break, even having missed a penalty.
Yet, Brigid’s hung on in there and were only a quite scoreable point attempt, which went wide, away from bringing the margin to a single point with just ten minutes remaining.
In the end, the 1-11 to 1-6 score-line was probably a fair enough reflection of things.
Broadly speaking, it was a battle of Brigids’ methodical and professional defensive set-up, and weaving attacking style, against Foxrock/Cabinteely’s sheer pace and powerful runners, combined with no shortage of “pick and poke” know-how.
Fox-Cab’s final score before half time, summed up what was most noteworthy about this clearly formidable outfit.
Illustrating a know-how of the game that betrays their youth, with possession in their own half back line, and Brigid’s well set up to defend, with 13 behind the ball, they manoeuvred as theoretically perfect a score as possible.
With Ciara Murphy, as ever, at the fulcrum, they played a methodical possession game in the half back line, drawing out the Brigid’s zonal defence, one by one, picking holes in the middle third, and then penetrating the centre with their awesome pace, before corner forward, Amy Ring, kicked over.
Their comprehension of the situation, often lost on teams, was flawless. They had the lead, so could play the ball around their six versus two defence for the rest of the game if they wanted.
As any clever team should, but so few do, they forced Brigid’s to alter their shape to their terms, partially abandon their 12 strong zonal defence, and exposed them ruthlessly when they did.
The sides looked evenly matched in the first ten minutes, as Brigids’ Emma Sherwood made life difficult for Sinéad Goldrick from midfield, initially.
Brigid’s had set up with an efficient “blanket defence” from the off, and initially the Fox-Cab girls had trouble breaking them down.
A pattern which neither side would particularly adapt to throughout, became apparent early on, however.
While you couldn’t say that any of the frees awarded by the referee were technically incorrect, he certainly applied the rules to their strictest interpretation.
Any hand contact with the upper body resulted in a free, and in the end, 1-6 to 0-4 of the sides’ 1-11 to 1-6 came from frees or penalties, with a few more missed that the respective free takers might have fancied their chances on.
With Brigid’s clearly set up defensively to stifle this powerful running Fox-Cab side, the strict refereeing probably affected them more negatively as they found themselves defending more frequently.
By the quarter hour mark, Fox-Cab were beginning to get the upper hand. Initially with Emma Sherwood doing her utmost, Goldrick had been below par by her own standards, but once she warmed up into the game by the quarter hour mark, her constant cutting runs, and late driving runs into the attack, became a constant menace. She would score two points and be fouled for two penalties before the evening was done, and earned a scoreable free or two also.
By the time she was fouled for the first penalty, which Dublin keeper, Ciara Trant, would save, Fox-Cab had taken a three point to one lead.
Brigid’s tried to play their kick-outs methodically from the back, all the while pressing Fox-Cab high on theirs. And had it not been for the ladies’ games’ answer to Ciarán Kilkenny, game controller, Ciara Murphy, Brigid’s may well have had success with this policy.
Murphy, wearing number 12, but playing as an extra, defensive, game conducting midfielder, pulled the strings throughout, controlling possession methodically, bringing the pacier players into the game perfectly..
Her ball control and intelligence, even under intense pressure, allowed Fox-Cab to weave ball out through Brigids’ high pressing on the kick-outs. If she wasn’t there, I sensed that Brigid’s kick-out policy could have been significantly more successful than it was.
Albeit, I’d personally play a different style of game than they’ve done, if I were the Dublin manager, she’d be one of the first names on the team-sheet, as a sitting libero, doing more or less for Dublin what she does for Fox-Cab.
While Brigid’s defended in numbers, it was clear that they had players with the ball playing capacity to weave methodically through the middle third.
Colleen Barrett and Sherwood at midfield and wing back, Shauna Hinkinson, carried ball cleverly while Deirdre Murphy at centre back and Noelle Healy at centre forward had the drive to penetrate the gaps. All the while, Louis Reilly’s ball carrying saw her frequently gain ground. In the right circumstances, they had the capacity to launch good attacks.
The big problem for Brigid’s, however, was exposed when they played the kick-out that was crying out all the first half. With Fox-Cab pressing high up the field, they went long and hard, took over half the Fox-Cab team out of the game, and hit the pacey Healy directly in the centre.
Healy ate up ground as quickly as possible, directly towards the goal. Even with this set-play and move working as efficiently as possible, in the hands of their most dangerous and pacey forward, close to the “21”, Healy faced an all too familiar sight – spare defenders to contend with. She was promptly dispossessed as she tried to shoot.
Efficient as their 12 strong defence may have been if the referee was less rigid with the application of the rules, all too frequently, their attack was too thin up front against an able Fox-Cab defence.
The ferocious appetite and athleticism of the Fox-Cab middle third to sprint back behind the ball when Brigid’s attacked with anything less than maximum fluid efficiency, made them all the more formidable at the back.
Fox-Cab appeared to have the perfect balance throughout. In any normal circumstances, Niamh Collins would be the stand-out athletic midfielder. Beside Goldrick, the pair were frightening. Centre back, Ciara Ní Mhurcha, centre forward, Amy Connolly and wing forward, Laura Nerney, seemed equally pacey and powerful ball carriers.
Niamh Ryan, Ann-Marie Murphy and Amy Ring in the full forward line got out in front for virtually every ball played in, while corner back, Emma McDonagh made two superb “man-marking” interception where Brigid’s had managed to get from end to end quickly, and looked like their attacks would end in scores.
With the game looking like Fox-Cab might start to run away, Brigid’s scored two points late in the half to keep them within reach, with a 0-7 to 0-3 score-line at half time.
With only one Fox-Cab point put the board in the opening ten minutes of the second half, after Trant had stopped a one-on-one, it was no coincidence that the arrival of Aoife Coffey as a sub coincided with Brigid’s pulling themselves back into the game.
Whereas 12 had previously tracked behind the ball and left a gulf of space between the defence and the attack, she played a textbook half forward role, effectively offering a key outlet, they had previously missed.
Her first five minutes saw her on the ball no less than five times. Her first possession saw her send the ball into the box for full forward, Leah Mullins, to fist home, leaving just two between the sides at 0-8 to 1-3.
The fifth of Coffey’s possessions saw her shoot for a point which would have left just a point between the sides had she converted.
Fox-Cab, however, upped the ante again. Firstly they created a goal chances where Connolly chose the frugal option of pointing, before the formidable Goldrick burst late into the attack again and earned a penalty for the second time on the evening.
When Amy Ring converted, perfectly inside the right hand post, as Trant guessed the wrong way, the game appeared out of reach for Brigid’s.
They would continue to push for the final fifteen minutes, but the solid Fox-Cab defence limited them to three points while they would put over two more themselves to run out deserving 1-11 to 1-6 winners.
Foxrock/Cabinteely : Laurie Aherne, Sarah Quinn, Aedin Murray, Emma McDonagh, Tarah O’Sullivan, Ciara Ní Mhurcha, Sarah Brophy, Sinéad Goldrick, Niamh Collins, Laura Nerney, Amy Connolly, Ciara Murphy, Niamh Ryan, Ann-Marie Murphy, Amy Ring Subs Hannah Foster Ryan, Eimear O’Herlihy, Ciara Crotty Scorers A Ring 1-4 (3 frees, 1 pen), A Connolly 0-3 (2 frees), S Goldrick 0-2, E O’Herlihy 0-1, H Foster Ryan 0-1
St Brigid’s : Ciara Trant, Aimee Molly, Michaela Newell, Clare McCormack, Shauna Hinkson, Deirdre Murphy, Shona Barrett, Colleen Barrett, Emma Sherwood, Louise Reilly, Noelle Healy, Siobhán Devlin, Aoibheann Lynch, Leah Mullins, Katie Nyhan Subs Aoife Coffey Scorers L Mullins 1-0, A Lynch 0-2 (2 frees), N Healy 0-2 (1 free), E Sherwood 0-1, S Barrett 0-1
By Stephen O’Meara