Cavan 1-14 Tipperary 1-12
Sean O’Donovan’s courageous charges were led in this game for only nine minutes, but crucially Cavan hit the front with 8 to go and a penalty goal from impressive full forward Bronagh Sheridan moments later sealed Tipperary’s fate, eventhough they battled right to the very death.
All the talk around Croke Park on the day was of the cracking All-Ireland hurling replay of the evening before. But, they hadn’t counted on the intermediate final being as absorbing a game - it really was end to end stuff and it was case of Tipperary just running out of steam in the final analysis, a fact acknowledged by the Manager after the game.
Tipperary, heading to Croker as underdogs, knew that they had to explode into this game and hit Cavan with everything early on - they did and were 0-3 up after just three minutes thanks to scores from Gillian O’Brien and a brace from Edel Hanly. This was great going considering that Tipp were playing into a stiff breeze and eventhough Cavan recovered and went in front by the 12th minutes with white flags from Grainne Smith, Bronagh Sheridan and Aisling Doonan, Tipp were very much in control of proceedings.
The story got even better when Mairead Morrissey ripped the net with a 13th minute goal after Anne Ryan had set her up and Tipp went on to lead by 1-6 to 0-5 with ten to go in the half - Edel Hanly, Gillian O’Brien and Catriona Walsh all finding the posts. A number of goal chances came Tipp’s way too but they had to be content with just one in the half and though Cavan’s classy attackers showed their skills with four unanswered points from Aisling Doonan, Grainne Smith, Mona Sheridan and Bronagh Sheridan, Tipp still led at the break by 1-7 to 0-9 - Gillian O’Brian grabbing her third from play to secure the slender advantage.
Tipperary’s energy and industry in the half had been incredible. They used the expanses of Croke Park to their advantage and with the purposeful and intelligent distribution of the ball from the likes of Jennifer Grant and Sheelagh Carew at midfield, coupled with the defensive and offensive acumen of Claire Carroll, Barbara Ryan and Anne O’Dwyer in the half back line, there was bound to be attacking opportunity up front. There was and it mostly centered around Mairead Morrissey who was at the heart of everything that was good about Tipp. Gillian O’Brien too was in sparkling form while Edel Hanly was getting onto ball and making good use of it.
Tipp’s interval lead could have been more had a number of scoring chances from placed balls not gone abegging - the swirling breeze casued a lot of problems for sharpshooters on both sides.
Tipp pressed again in the third quarter and managed three points against Cavan’s two - Edel Hanley, Sheelagh Carew and Hanley again, against Doonan and Smith scores for the Ulster women. But, Cavan were turning the screw and the pressure was mounting on the Tipp backs who were defending resolutely - midfield and half forward for Tipp were struggling as the legs began to give way and Cavan capitalised with forced errors and manufactured frees which Bronagh Sheridan and Aisling Doonan converted. Sheridan gave Cavan the lead for the first time since the 12th minute with a 22nd minute score and when Doonan was fouled for a penalty in the 26th minute which saw Tipp keeper Patricia Hickey off, the writing was the wall. Edel Hanly was called ashore to allow Helen Kennedy to take up position in goals, but her first function was to pick the ball from the net after Bronagh Sheridan had expertly converted the penalty.
As has been their trait, Tipp battled back and points from Mairead Morrissey and Sheelagh Carew cut the deficit. They needed to goal though and it wasn’t to come. The Premier race was run and when the final whistle sounded the Tipp players fell to the ground in disappointment.
Tipp may have lost the game but they won a lot of hearts for their bravery, courage, style and willingness to have a go. Although their great effort came up just short they left HQ with their pride and honour intact.
Teams and Scorers: Cavan: C Fay, P Lynch, G McGlade, J Moore, S Greene, A Cornyn, R Jordon, R Crowe 0-1, D English, C O’Reilly, R O’Keeffe, M Sheridan 0-1, G Smith 0-3, B Sheridan 1-4, A Doonan 0-5. Subs: C Smith.
Tipperary: P Hickey, B Condon, S Lambert, R Kenneally, A O’Dwyer, C Carroll, B Ryan, J Grant, S Carew 0-2, L O’Shea, M Morrissey 1-1, C Walsh 0-1, N Lonergan, G O’Brien 0-3, E Hanley 0-5. Subs: K Hackett, A McCarthy.