AN AISHLING MOLONEY masterclass and goals from her clubmate Aisling McCarthy and Angela McGuigan steered 2017 champions Tipperary to All-Ireland intermediate championship glory once again.
Moloney fired 0-8 — 0-7 of that from play — at Croke Park, to lead the Premier county past 2018 finalists Meath, and restored their senior status after relegation last year.
After lifting the Mary Quinn Memorial Cup in 2017, Shane Ronayne’s charges competed well in the top flight last year, but found themselves back in the intermediate ranks this summer.
And it was Déja Vú for the Division 1 side as captain Samantha Lambert climbed the steps of the Hogan Stand to lift the silver. For Meath, who battled gamely throughout, it was just like 12 months ago when they fell short in the decider at the hands of Tyrone.
It was a thrilling first half from start to finish, a total of 2-19 scored with Tipperary ahead by the minimum by the end of it. Tit-for-tat for the most part, the biggest margin at any stage was three points as the rain came down.
The Royals started strongest, Vikki Wall beating Moloney to the throw-up and working the ball up the field for Aoibhín Cleary to split the posts at the Canal End. Australia-bound dual star Orla O’Dwyer responded immediately, with Moloney, McCarthy — who also plies her trade with AFLW outfit Western Bulldogs — and Caoimhe Condon making it 0-4 to 0-1 within five minutes.
Tipperary’s experience of the big stage shone through at times but anything that was thrown at them, Meath dealt with accordingly. From there, Wall and 17-year-old rising star Emma Duggan upped the ante on the scoring front, along with Fiona O’Neill.
Orla O’Dwyer on the ball.
Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO
But anything they could do, the Premier could too with Moloney, Angela McGuigan and Anna Rose Kennedy all posting brilliant points on the front foot. On 20 minutes, Wall brought the gap to one — 0-8 to 0-7.
More Moloney excellence ensued, but O’Neill’s 24th-minute major put wind in the Royal’s sails; the Dunboyne star’s rattle of the net making it 1-7 to 0-9. Kelsey Nesbitt added another point onto that, but Tipperary soon stopped their momentum.
McGuigan stepped up with their all-important first-half goal, firing home after some great work from Ava Fennessy in the build-up. Duggan (free) and McCarthy exchanged minors in the final minute of the half, leaving it 1-10 to 1-9 as the whistle sounded.
The second period started much slower; a more tactical, cagey battle with the stakes so high and the margins for error so fine. Nine minutes passed without a score, with goal chances and vital interceptions at each end while Moloney kicked a few uncharacteristic wides.
But it was the Cahir ace who bit back after Bridgetta Lynch opened Meath’s tally to draw matters in the 39th minute.
And just after, her clubmate McCarthy raised a green flag at the same goal she did in the 2017 decider, to make in 2-11 to 1-10. O’Dwyer tagged on a point, and from there it looked as if it was Tipperary’s to lose.
To their credit, Meath never gave up and explored every avenue through Wall, Duggan and Dee Rangers’ Orlaith Duff’s heroics in defence. Stacey Grimes’ introduction from the bench lifted things, and she hit a free.
Fiona O’Neill faces Maria Curley.
Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO
Moloney led her charges phenomenally though, keeping the scoreboard ticking over alongside Ava Fennessy. And Wall’s 66th-minute offering would be the game’s last, but it was too little too late for Meath.
A sidenote, but one of importance: following the Royal’s failure to win today and Westmeath’s relegation, Dublin are now the only senior team in Leinster, leaving the provincial competition up in the air.
Scorers for Tipperary: Aishling Moloney (0-8, 1f), Angela McGuigan (1-1), Aisling McCarthy (1-2), Orla O’Dwyer (0-2), Caoimhe Condon (0-1), Anna Rose Kennedy (0-1), Ava Fennessy (0-1)
Scorers for Meath: Emma Duggan (0-5, 3f), Fiona O’Neill (1-1), Vikki Wall (0-4), Aoibhín Cleary (0-1), Kelsey Nesbitt (0-1), Bridgetta Lynch (0-1), Stacey Grimes (0-1)
of the team
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1. Lauren Fitzpatrick (Ballymacarbry, Waterford)
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2. Lucy Spillane (Fethard)
3. Maria Curley (Templemore)
4. Emma Cronin (Moyle Rovers)
5. Bríd Condon (Aherlow)
6. Samantha Lambert (Ardfinnan)
7. Caitlín Kennedy (Aherlow)
8. Aisling McCarthy (Cahir)
9. Anna Rose Kennedy (Aherlow)
10. Niamh Lonergan (Moyle Rovers)
11. Aishling Moloney (Cahir)
12. Orla O’Dwyer (Boherlahan)
13. Ava Fennessy (Clonmel Commercials)
14. Angela McGuigan (Sliabh na mBan)
15. Caoimhe Condon (Brian Borus)
18. Laura Dillon (Ardfinna) for Emma Cronin (HT)
17. Róisín Daly (Moyne Templetouhy) for Caoimhe Condon (42)
24. Orla Winston (Clonmel Commercials) for Angela McGuigan (50)
1. Monica McGuirk (Duleek/Bellewstown)
2. Katie Newe (Ratoath)
3. Orlaith Duff (Dee Rangers)
4. Sarah Powderly (Navan O’Mahony’s)
5. Orla Byrne (Duleek/Bellewstown)
6. Shauna Ennis (Na Fianna)
7. Sarah Wall (Dunboyne)
8. Máire O’Shaughnessy (Donaghmore/Ashbourne)
9. Aoibhín Cleary (Donaghmre/Ashbourne)
10. Emma Duggan (Dunboyne)
11. Vikki Wall (Dunboyne)
12. Megan Thynne (Dunsany)
13. Bridgetta Lynch (Oldcastle)
14. Kelsey Nesbitt (Simonstown)
15. Fiona O’Neill (Dunboyne)
25. Orlagh Lally (Clann na nGael) for Sarah Powderly (46)
29. Stacey Grimes (Seneschalstown) for Emma Duggan (47)
24. Megan O’Brien (St Michaels) for Orla Byrne (47)
30. Niamh Gallogly (Royal Gaels) for Shauna Ennis (65)
18. Emma White (St Patricks) for Sarah Wall (67)
Referee: Jonathan Murphy (Carlow).
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