Ladies Down but not out

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Ladies Down but not out thumbnailLAOISE Duffy breaks away from Emma Mulgrew

IT wasn't Down's night on Friday.

DOWN 0-03

Played in bright evening sunshine, Down's performance was as frustrating as finding the pitch in Clonmore.

As while Tyrone were undoubtedly the deserved winners, they weren't 16-points the better team.

It was a harsh result for the Mourne Ladies but one they must take on the chin and prepare for the All-Ireland Qualifiers because this Down team has potential, with an abundance of talented footballers.

Kilcoo's Chara Laverty and Laoise Duffy of Bredagh, formed a powerful midfield and they offered energy and conviction in attack. Downpatrick duo Orla Boyle and Adair Trainor are tenacious defenders and fine passers of the ball. While evergreen Kyla Trainor continues to trouble even the best of defences. But on Friday night Down simply couldn't score - against and even with a strong wind to their backs.

"I think we had something like eight balls drop short in each half and I think the stats show something like 11 wides on top of that so when you are getting forward we need to be scoring and stats like that are not going to win you games," said Down Ladies manager Ryan McShane.

Three points over an hour of football is a poor return.

Down trailed 0-1 to 0-9 at the break with Gemma Begley, Niamh O'Neill and Canavan sisters Aine and Maria grabbing the scores for the Red Hands, while Kyla Trainor give Down their only first half score.

And it was 37 minutes of play later when Down Ladies added their next with a converted free from substitute Aishling Cull, to bring the score to 0-15 to 0-2. Another substitute Cushla Savage notched on a point with her first touch in the closing stages.

However, Down created far more chances than the score-line suggests, with excellent play from captain Lauren Cunningham, Duffy, Laverty and Trainor but they simply weren't clinical enough in front of the posts.

Both sides finished with 14 players as Laverty and Tyrone's Lycrecia Quinn were forced to the sin-bin in the final moments by referee Paul Swift.

Down must prepare for the All-Ireland Qualifiers at the end of the month in what will likely be a tricky encounter. The Mourne Ladies won the Intermediate All-Ireland title in 2014 but and exodus of players and coaching staff meant the team went into freefall for a period but the rebuilding process has already begun.

Days like Friday are part of that learning curve as Down have a talented squad and McShane, who was part of the 2014 management set-up, believes there are brighter days ahead for his players.

"It reminds me a bit of ourselves a couple of years ago, maybe in 2012 and 2013 when we were sort of coming up," said McShane.

"We are rebuilding and we are young but don't get me wrong we came here today believing that we could do ourselves justice. The things that we had worked on maybe didn't click on the day and unfortunately we have come out with a result like this, so it is hard to take but we are definitely a better team than we were today.

"I absolutely can't fault the commitment of that team, they gave it everything. On any given day the ball can drop wide and I couldn't fault the work-rate of every one of them they put it out there and left it all out on the field and they can go home pride in that regard." McShane has the tough job of lifting his team following a 13-point defeat but he insists that he is building for the long-term and that his current squad are in the early stages of that development.

"We are looking out now in the last week in July are the first week of August and we will see who comes up in round two of the Qualifiers and we will certainly rebuild and focus on it again," said McShane.

"They will get back with their clubs and we will let them start enjoying their football again. We have had a hard few weeks, we had a lot of injuries and as a result we had to sort of tapper our training down a bit earlier than what we would have liked.

"But we have a good mix of experience and youth who want to commit to inter-county football, so I started out at the beginning of the year knowing that this was going to be a building block for further down the line, so I think we will get them picked up."

DOWN: Christine McCarthy, Gemma Magee, Orla Boyle, Aimee Greene, Adair Trainor, Cara Cunningham, Kate McKay, Chara Laverty, Laoise Duffy, Sinead Branagan, Aoife Keown, Lauren Cunningham, Kyla Trainor (0-1), Ella Durkan, Erin McDowell.

Subs used: Grainne McClean for McKay, Aishlin Cull (0-1f) for Durkin, Natalie McKibbon for McDowell, Cushla Savage (0-1) for Keown.

TYRONE: Shannon Lynch, Emma Mulgrew, Joanne Barrett, Emma Breenan, Neamh Woods, Shannon Cunningham Quinn, Christine Hunter, Meabh Mallon, Emma Jane Girvan, Emma Hegarty, Aine Canavan (0-2), Maria Canavan (0-2), Niamh O'Neill (0-4), Gemma Begley (0-7, 5f), Rebecca McCrory (0-1).

Subs used: Emma Smyth for Hegarty, Grainne Rafferty for McCrory, Caolieann Conway for Barrett, Lycrecia Quinn for A Canavan, Siobhan Sherrin for Begley.


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