Oldcastle 1-9 Boardsmill 1-6
Six years after winning the Intermediate championship, Oldcastle were crowned Masita Meath Ladies Senior champions on Saturday evening last, after a dominant display against a gallant Boardsmill side. Despite being underdogs in the view of some observers, in front of a crowd of 900 spectators Oldcastle deservedly came out on top on a scoreline of 1-9 to 1-6.
In what was always going to be an intriguing match between the beaten finalists from the previous 2 years, Oldcastle started brightly with the opening point inside 3 minutes from the boot of their excellent full-forward Joanna Byrne. Boardsmill responded with a well-taken point from full-forward Laura Dempsey, after some good work on the left wing from all-Ireland Camogie winner Caroline Quinn. Byrne restored Oldcastle's advantage from the restart, this time cutting in from the right side and finishing a collective team effort from close range.
Boardsmill's next scores came from a brace of pointed frees from Dempsey. In between these, Sarah O'Reilly delivered the score of the game as she sent over a superb pointed free from the 13 metre line, 5 metres in from the right touchline. Boardsmill took the lead for the first time in the game with a point from play from the influential Quinn in the 16th minute. This began a spell where Boardsmill gained the upper hand in the game, but could only muster a single point from another Dempsey free by the time the first half came to an end. Oldcastle stayed in touch during this time with another free from O'Reilly, so going to the break a point in arrears 0-4 to 0-5.
The half-time team talk from manager Laura Harrison seemed to have the desired effect as Oldcastle came out of the blocks strongly in the 2nd half and began to win all the key battles across the park. They were back on level terms within 2 minutes and after 12 minutes had pushed the game to a 2 point gap for the first time, all 3 points coming from frees by O'Reilly. Oldcastle's defence was also rock solid at this stage with full back Eileen Rahill making some very impressive surges downfield when the opportunity arose. The crucial moment of the game came in the 45th minute as Bridgetta Lynch, operating superbly as sweeper, intercepted a Boardsmill attack. From the resultant passage of play, Áine Bennett sent a cross-field ball with pinpoint accuracy to the unmarked Byrne who finished calmly to the net. This opened up a 5 point gap and in truth there was no way back for Boardsmill at this stage.
Byrne made it a 6 point game in the 50th minute before Quinn reduced the deficit again to 5 with a point for Boardsmill. 6 minutes from full-time, Boardsmill seemed to give themselves some hope with a fortuitous goal from substitute Laura Griffin but in reality this just put a better gloss on the scoreline. Oldcastle showed a steely determination to close out the game over the final 5 minutes with player of the match Joanna Byrne sending over the final score in the final minute to seal a deserved 1st senior championship for the north Meath team.
Jane and Ciara Browne raise the Meath Ladies SFC Cup at Skryne
Oldcastle are now only the 3rd team in the past 15 years to lift the senior championship in Meath following periods of dominance from Seneschalstown and more recently St Ultans. Great credit goes to their management team of Harrison, Martin O'Neill and Paddy Gilsenan, especially having played league football from Division 2 this year. Asked about Oldcastle's success in this year's campaign, Harrison credited the team with hard work throughout the year and the determination & belief to never lose sight of the end goal.
Oldcastle go on to contest the Leinster senior championship semi-final against the much fancied Foxrock Cabinteely side this Saturday 14th October at 3pm in Bray Emmets GAA ground. After this display however, Oldcastle just might feel capable of causing an upset to the form book and maintain the strong progress that Meath Ladies football has made already this year.
Oldcastle: Karen Cadden, Claire Griffin, Eileen Rahill, Gillian Hawdon, Eimear Hetherton, Orla Smith, Jane Brown (JC), Ciara Brown (JC), Gabriele Krivinskaite, Emma Healy, Sinead Coyle, Áine Bennett, Sarah O'Reilly (0-5f), Joanna Byrne (1-4), Bridgetta Lynch. Subs used; Aoibhinn Timmons for Coyle, Florence Smith for O'Reilly, Ciara Delaney for Timmons.
Referee: Colm McManus