Dismay for Tyrone Ladies as 2017 All Ireland dream ends in Croke Park

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The Tyrone ladies footballers fell at the final hurdle in the All Ireland Intermediate Football Championship title race as they lost out by three points to Tipperary in the final at Croke Park.

On another record-breaking day for Ladies Gaelic, with a remarkable record of 46,262 spectators in attendance – the biggest this year at any Ladies Sports event in the World – Tyrone just fell short to a powerful Tipperary side.

It was a game which the ladies will ultimately reflect upon and one which they could have won as they created a host of chances which were not converted over the hour’s play. In the end, a more clinical and well organised Tipperary side held out for victory.

Tyrone did show great resolve and there were noteworthy performances from star player, Emma-Jane Gevin, as well as Shannon Lynch, Neamh Woods, Christiane Hunter, substitute’s Emma Hegarty, Maria Canavan and Chloe McCaffrey and Lycrecia Quinn.

There were certainly many glimpses of great play from Tyrone and the potential they have shown this year will no doubt see management and squad back again in a stronger position, with this experience under their belt, in 2018.

Tyrone ladies started the final brightly but did miss early chances to get on the scoresheet, albeit Lycreca Quinn did look to deliver an excellent point before an early ‘Hawk Eye’ call showed wide.

Following two points then from Tipperary, it was Niamh O’Neill who got the Ulster champions off the mark with a well-taken point, following great work from Lycrecia Quinna and after a terrific interception in defence by Emma Jane Gervin, to make it 0-2 to 0-1.

Dismay for Tyrone ladies as the all Ireland 2017 dream comes to an end at the final hurdle of the series in Croke Park

Tipperary’s Roisin Howard extended the advantage to two again with a point (0-3 to 0-1) but 15 minutes into the action the initiative swung to Tyrone with a really brilliant goal from Grainne Rafferty, after a super pass from impressive centre-forward, Lycrecia Quinn 1-1 to 0-3.

Tipperary did go straight upfield and could’ve had a goal of their own but solid defending from Woods and Mulgrew ensured just a point, and they were level again at 1-1 to 0-4.

A dominant short spell though from Tipperary meant they took a bit of a grip on proceedings in the second quarter and powerful midfielder, Aisling McCarthy, pointed a 20m free-kick to make it 1-1 to 0-5

Moments later came a decisive score too as, with 18 minutes played, an error in defence by Tyrone saw Tipperary’s Aisling McCarthy take a stray pass and lob the Tyrone defence for a goal from 25 metres, making it 1-1 to 1-5.

Indeed but for an outstanding save from Shannon Lynch in the Tyrone goal, to deny Tipperary’s Gillian O’Brien after a super run and shot, that lead could have extended again.

Tipperary’s Gillian O’Brien then added a point to open up a five-point advantage, 1-1 to 1-6 before an outstanding run and brilliant pass by Lycrecia Quinn to Niamh O’Neill almost saw the second goal for Tyrone but the shot went just wide, Tyrone’s 8th wide of the game.

Two converted 13-metre free kicks from Gemma Begley were sandwiched by a big goal chance for Tipperary’s Aishling Maloney, who was blocked down by Neamh Woods before Mairead Morrissey fisted a point, to leave it 1-7 to 1-3 in favour of the Munster champions at half-time.

The second half saw Aishling Maloney extend Tipperary’s lead but Emma Jane Gervin, having a terrific game at midfield, responded with a super 35 metre point from play moments later.

Gillian O’Brien found her range to make it 1-9 to 1-4 on 35 minutes and again Emma Jane Gervin delivered another inspirational 50 metre run and point to see the deficit back to four, 1-9 to 1-5.

The teams traded a brace of points with Maria Canavan and Gemma Begley both on target from free-kicks to make it 1-11 to 1-7 on 44 minutes.

It did not take long for Chloe McCaffrey to make her mark and she blitzed forward on a 50-metre run and delivered a superb point to leave three between them with 14 minutes to play. Indeed Emma Hegarty and Maria Canavan both added to the Tyrone challenge as they rallied to close the gap.

Niamh Hughes went close to grabbing a goal after a fantastic run but it was palmed wide by the Tipperary keeper. Tipperary’s Aishling McCarthy pointed a free to leave it 1-12 to 1-8 going into the final ten minutes of play and added another just moments later to leave five between them with 8 minutes to go.

A Maria Canavan pointed free on 57 minutes saw the deficit back to four and a Gemma Begley point on 59 minutes left three between them going into the last minute. Tipperary defended resolutely in the closing exchanges and they held out from that point to make it 1-13 to 1-10 at the final whistle.

Unfortunately, the missed chances over the course of the game proved crucial as Tyrone lost out in a first-ever all Ireland Intermediate Football championship final appearance.

Tyrone: Shannon Lynch (Mna na Deirge), Emma Brennan (Trillick), Emma Louise Mulgrew (Killeeshil), Caoileann Conway (Sperrin Og); Neamh Woods (Drumragh/Captain), Shannon Cunningham (Errigal Ciaran), Christiane Hunter (Omagh); Meabh Mallon (Aodh Ruadh) and Emma Jane Gervin (Aodh Ruadh); Niamh Hughes (Aodh Ruadh), Lycrecia Quinn (Errigal Ciaran), Aine Canavan (Errigal Ciaran); Niamh O’Neill (Sperrin Og), Gemma Begley (An Charraig Mhor), Grainne Rafferty (Killeeshil).

Subs used: Niamh McGirr for Caoileann Conway (20 mins), Maria Canavan for Aine Canavan (38 mins), Emma Hegarty for Grainne Rafferty (38 mins), Chloe McCaffrey for Lycrecia Quinn (42 mins).

Tyrone Scorers:  Grainne Rafferty (1-0), Gemma Begley (0-4, 3f), Emma Jane Gervin (0-2), Maria Canavan (0-2, 2f), Chloe McCaffrey (0-1), Niamh O’Neill (0-1)

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