Ladies: Farrelly and Duggan fire Meath past Laois to opening Leinster championship win

April 21, 2024

Meath's Shelly Melia with Eimear Barry and Mary Cotter Laois during the Leinster SFC clash at Pairc Tailteann

Meath 3-11
Laois 1-7

by Daire Walsh

Marion Farrelly and Emma Duggan struck a combined tally of 3-6 at Pairc Tailteann on Sunday afternoon as Meath began their TG4 Leinster Senior Football Championship campaign with a convincing triumph over Laois. PHOTOS

Back-to-back TG4 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship winners in 2021 and 2022, Meath shook off a difficult opening to the action to ultimately get the better of their O’Moore counterparts. Timahoe sharpshooter Mo Nerney posted six points for Laois over the course of the proceedings, but it wasn’t enough to give her side victory on the day.

Playing their first game under new manager Stephen Duff, Laois raced into an early lead with a point from Emily Lacey after just 15 seconds of the play. Hosts Meath eventually opened their account through Duggan’s fourth-minute effort, only for their opponents to create some daylight with a brace of scores by the ever-elusive Nerney.

Yet Meath subsequently hit the front for the first time on the stroke of 10 minutes, when two-time TG4 All Star Duggan calmly slotted a penalty into the bottom corner of the Laois net. This was the catalyst for a dominant spell from the Royals with Duggan, Farrelly and Ciara Smyth all firing over successive points either side of the first-quarter mark.

This was followed up by quickfire Farrelly goals in the 21st and 23rd minutes and with their defence holding firm in the latter stages of the opening period, Meath brought a commanding 3-4 to 0-3 lead into the break.

While Meath attacker Niamh Gallogly kicked an excellent point on the resumption, a 0-3 salvo from the impressive Nerney provided Laois with considerable solace. Duggan later registered her first point off the second period from a close-range free, before Laois added fresh life to their challenge courtesy of a 42nd minute goal by Lauren Kearney.

The Royals displayed no signs of panic, however, and reinforced their authority with back-to-back scores from Smyth and Farrelly. Additional contributions from Duggan and the hard-working Megan Thynne moved Meath back into a double digit advantage during the final-quarter and in advance of a late consolation point from Nerney, Smyth kicked her third of the tie to ensure Meath eased themselves over the line.

Scorers - Meath: M Farrelly 2-2 (0-1f), E Duggan 1-4 (1-0 pen, 0-3f), C Smyth 0-3, M Thynne, N Gallogly 0-1 each.Laois: M Nerney 0-6 (3f), L Kearney 1-0, E Lacey 0-1.

MEATH: M McGuirk; C Lawlor, MK Lynch, N Troy; A Cleary, L Young, K Newe; M O’Shaughnessy, E Moyles; M Thynne, S Melia, C Smyth; N Gallogly, M Farrelly, E Duggan. Subs: A McCabe for Cleary (44), O Gore for Newe (49), M Byrne for Farrelly (53), S Lynch for Thynne (54), T Foster for Smyth (57).

LAOIS: E Barry; S Farrelly, C Dunne, I Finlay; G Lalor, M Cotter, C Malone; R Reddin, A Moore; G Moran, O Hennessy, E Lacey; M Nerney, L Kearney, K Donoghue. Subs: A Finlay for I Finlay (24), A Ryle for Reddin (39), R Allen for Kearney, A Walsh for Hennessy (both 46), A Fitzpatrick for Moran (55).

Referee: Ray McBride (Dublin).

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