Lancashire Ladies Junior League
Lancashire Junior League John Mitchels Gaa 1-02 v 2-10 Wolfe Tones
The Wolfe Tones moved up through the gears in the second half, to blow their neighbours away in the opening game of the Lancashire Junior Ladies season. Wolfe Tones are the current county champions, and on this showing, they will be hard pushed in letting go of their crown. The last time they were out, they were humbled by a very strong Kingdom Kerry Gaels side in the All-Britain stages, but to be fair, the London outfit should have been operating at Intermediate level. Meanwhile, John Mitchels trumped everyone as they clinched the All-Britain Intermediate title, however, their Junior team struggled and they will be hoping to improve this year.
Looking around a splendid Greenbank on a wet Thursday night, a lot of new faces donned the colours of both teams. Wolfe Tones, have recruited well and had 22 ladies in attendance, the only person missing was the energetic Clare Shaw. Meanwhile, John Mitchels have taken a lot of students in, while they have fostered three of their underage stars into their adult ranks (I will look at this later in the report). Others looking on from the sidelines were the Gannons, Eilis and Cliona; and the Roisins, Collery and Roisin; but they will get their chance later on in the year in the Intermediate ranks. While Noleen Conway will take charge of that team.
Matters on the pitch now. Both teams started slowly as the winter break seemed to leave a bit of rust on the boots of the players, hence the numerous shots that went wide. As the teams settled however, it was Wolfe Tones who looked the better team. They hit 3 points before John Mitchels scored, with Aoife Jacob knocking over a brace and new recruit Elaine Butler hitting a fine score from a tight angle. The Tipperary native’s pace and directness caused a lot of bother to the John Mitchel’s rearguard throughout the game. She will be a leading player for the Wavertree outfit for the year ahead.
For all the superiority that Wolfe Tones had however, it didn’t really reflect on the scoreboard, and it came back to haunt them on the 20th minute. A long ball was lobbed into the Wolfe Tones’ square and Marion McGuigan grabbed the O’Neills above her marker’s head, she then placed the ball past Kitty Murray in goal. It was a fine finish to level up the tie. Mitchels then took the lead, when Niamh Gilbride put the ball over the bar. The game at this stage didn’t have one stoppage point, it flowed from one end to the other. For the Tones, Anita Fox at wingback was like a Duracell Bunny as she constantly cut through the middle of the John Mitchels defence. While the Greenbank outfit had their own ‘Bunny’ in Francesca Lynch, who did likewise for them. Mitchels hit one more before the break, while Wolfe Tones managed to hit 2 points to leave the score at half-time, John Mitchels 1-02, Wolfe Tones 0-05.
The game was a very enjoyable one, as both sides concentrated on playing football, before the large crowd in attendance. The second-half was set up to be just as close, however, with a small wind at their back, Wolfe Tones took control. A young Mitchels team struggled to get the ball up the field. Goals from Butler and Jacob and some fine scores from Katie Campbell and long-serving Laura Farrell, seen them take control.
The game had some fine performers all over the field, and the tussle of midfield pairing, Niamh Cahill and Clare Fitzgerald (Wolfe Tones) against Lucy Cormac and the returned Michaela Cunningham, was fine to watch. Others to impress for Wolfe Tones were Butler, Fox, Jacob, Campbell, Leanne Murray and the steady Leah O’Halloran at full back. For John Mitchels, Lynch was strong at centre-half back, Danielle Taggart was a rock in the full back line, Sandra Gordon and Aisling McDermott.
Next up for the Tones is a home game against St.Lawrences on Saturday at 12pm, while across the road, Oisins begin their Junior campaign at Greenbank against John Mitchels.