Thursday November 26th, 2015.
DCU’s ladies Gaelic Football team qualified for the Division One final following a hard-fought semi-final win over the University of Limerick at St Clare’s in a 2-11 to 2-6 win for Steven Maxwell’s side.
In a repeat fixture of the night’s earlier encounter between DCU and UL in the Division 3 semi-final, it was again DCU in the ascendency at full-time following their earlier 1-10 to 1-4 victory that sees both ladies sides into their respective league finals.
The latter clash saw DCU’s Michelle Farrell register the game’s first score inside the opening minutes before a quick exchange between UL’s Anna Galvin and Louise Ward found full-forward Áine Tighe free in space to smash over in a one-on-one situation with DCU goalkeeper Aisling Tarpey.
Tarpey would prove crucial throughout the game as constant one-on-ones with Tighe on more than three occasions resulted in outstanding saves resulting from quick reactions from the DCU number one.
Caroline McCarthy put the visitors into the lead from a converted free kick however, before DCU levelled the scores once again following a neat passage of play involving forwards Sarah Rowe and Niamh Rickard.
UL picked up again following another McCarthy point before DCU put distance between the sides. A powerful burst from halfway from Niamh Rickard preceded a clever exchange of quick handpasses with Michelle Farrell unleashing half-forward Rickard to fire the ball into the back of the UL goal following a fortunate deflection to take it past goalkeeper Lisa Crowley.
With the score now set at 1-2 to 0-4 to the home side UL could only respond with a solitary point before three more for Steven Maxwell’s DCU from the combined efforts of Aisling Sheridan from close range and Sarah Rowe following a wonderful save from UL goalkeeper Crowley.
One more point saw DCU lead D.J. Collins’ side by four points going into the second half – the scoreline now set at 1-6 to 0-5.
Two more free kicks from Sarah Rowe early in the second half extended her side’s lead to six before Rowe again added to the scoreboard, playing advantage following a foul outside the UL box to tap over.
With a place in this year’s league final seeming to slip ever so seamlessly out of UL’s grasp, Áine Tighe pulled out all the stops having lost control of the ball inside the DCU penalty area to regain her composure and rattle the ball accurately past Tarpey into the back of the net to instill belief in the visitors that a comeback was on the cards.
The final stages played out with a constant undertone of pressure-laden tension for both sides given the stakes. While Caroline McCarthy registered a significant point for UL to bring the sides level for the first time, DCU’s 1-9 to UL’s 2-6.
But the game was ultimately decided on the break of a fierce DCU counter as wonderful exchanges across the half-forward line saw a cutting through ball find corner forward Emma Colgan unmarked at the far post.
The forward steadied herself and the ball within the balance of her shoulders to take command and rifle the ball into the bottom corner, DCU now leading 2-9 to 2-6.
Late calls for a penalty from UL came following Róisín Leonard’s claim to have been hauled to the ground inside the DCU penalty area in late drama, but DCU rode the storm adding two more points late on to seal their victory on the night and a place in this year’s Division 1 league final.
DCU: Aisling Tarpey; Gráinne O’Loughlin, Philipa Greene, Dee Murphy; Kate Fitzgibbon, Bríd O’Sullivan, Lean Caffrey; Karen McDermott, Éabha Rutlege; Niamh Rickard, Michelle Farrell, Aisling McCauley; Aishling Sheridan, Emma Colgan, Sarah Rowe.
UL: Lisa Crowley; Aisling O’Connell, Laurie Ryan, Megen Heneghen; Emer Hillery, Niamh Richardson, Lisa McManoman; Caoimhe McGrath, Jennifer Grant; Ailish Considine, Anna Galvin, Louise Ward; Róisín Leonard, Áine Tighe, Caroline McCarthy.