At half-time in today’s LGFA National League match against Dublin, everything was going fine from our perspective. Playing with a strong wind, we’d gone in 2-7 to 0-4 in front. We looked well set then for a second win in this Division One campaign.
By the finish, though, Dublin had eased to a seven-point victory. With the wind behind them, they came roaring back into the match after the break, keeping us pinned back for almost the whole half, a half they won by 2-11 to 0-1, to claim success in this game of two halves on a final scoreline of 2-15 to 2-8.
We made three changes ahead of throw-in. Top scorer for us in our opening two games, Maria Cannon, didn’t start, with Sinéad Walsh lining out instead. Emma Needham also started in place of Lucy Wallace, while in goal Laura Brennan made her first start of the year, replacing Lisa Reid.
The strong wind that roared downfield towards the town end was the dominant factor in this game. We used the elements very well in the opening half, moving the ball forward at pace, repeatedly finding Lisa Cafferky, who was running riot inside.
She popped over our opener from out on the right and then, when Tara Needham turned over their restart, Lisa finished smartly to the net. Sinéad Walsh then finished a nice flowing move by firing confidently over.
Our good start continued when Tara was fouled in the square and Lisa drove the penalty low and hard to the net. Soon after she pointed again, this one off her left.
Dublin finally got going with a free, but two more points from Lisa, one from a free, kept us humming nicely.
They began to press a bit more and we swapped a few scores, Lisa continuing to add to her tally. She ended up with all but one of our opening tally of 2-7 as we retired to the dressing room with a yawning nine-point lead.
Maria Cannon replaced Tara Needham for the second half and we opened the second period on the attack. We were probing with more patience now but Dublin were still sitting back.
Then they began to motor and, once they did, there was no stopping them. Four points in quick succession flew between our posts and, when Caoimhe O’Connor goaled from an intercepted restart, there was now just two points between the sides.
Already, it was clear that this was going badly awry for us. Dublin didn’t hang around in pressing home their advantage. Two frees from Kate Sullivan hauled them level, then a point from play from Annabelle Timothy edged them in front for the first time.
We were two down when we got our first and only score of the second half. Inevitably, it came from the boot of Lisa Cafferky, from a free, and the score gave us renewed hope of a late rally.
Instead it was the visitors who finished with a flourish. Further points and a late goal by Kate Sullivan saw the All-Ireland champions home, winning with seven points to spare.
Next up for Liam McHale’s side is a difficult trip to Kerry on the same weekend that the lads are playing their counterparts down there. This Division One campaign – from which two teams get relegated for the first time – isn’t getting any easier, as today’s game of two halves demonstrated so emphatically.
Mayo: Laura Brennan; Emma Needham, Nicola O’Malley, Saoirse Lally; Kathryn Sullivan, Danielle Caldwell, Jenna Mortimer; Aoife Geraghty, Hannah Reape; Fionnuala McLaughlin, Alana Fitzpatrick, Sinéad Walsh (0-1); Tara Needham, Fiona McHale, Lisa Cafferky (2-7, penalty goal and three frees). Subs: Maria Cannon for Tara Needham, Emily Reape for Alana Fitzpatrick, Niamh Mooney for Emma Needham, Chelsea Doherty for Danielle Caldwell.