St Rynagh’s 2-11
Gailltír 1-11

Thomas Keane
Lady Luck eluded Gailltír when they took on old foes St. Rynagh’s from Offaly in the All-Ireland semi-finals at McDonagh Park in Nenagh on Saturday afternoon last. It was six weeks on from when the Offaly side captured the delayed 2020 All-Ireland final when beating Gailltír 1-11 to 0-10 at Semple Stadium.
Both sides kept changes to the minimum from the previous outings between the two clubs as the winners started Siobhan Flannery in place of Aoife McLoughlin while Gailltír started Laoise Forrest in place of Roisin Flood.
The Offaly side won the toss and strangely, with a strong wind blowing into the town end of the ground, opted to give first advantage of it to Gailltír.
The game however was only seconds old when there was a strange stoppage as inter-county referee Barry Nea noted that he had left his whistle back in the dressing rooms and ran back for the whistle after the first stoppage in play, which thankfully for both sides happened to be nothing more serious than the awarding of a sideline ball to Gailltír.
When the game did get underway Gailltír were first to score and it looked as if they had got off to a dream start.
Leah Sheridan intercepted a hand pass in the middle of the field and found Kate Lynch with an inch perfect pass.
She in turn unleashed a long delivery in front of the Saint Rynagh’s goal and when Ellen Gilligan race off her line she found herself in a spot of trouble as she was only able to try and bring down the ball with her hurley but it fell to Alannah O’Sullivan who batted into an empty net.
The joy however was short lived as the Offaly side hit back with a goal of their own straight away.
Emma Corcoran ran down the left hand side of the Gailltír defence and sent a ball across the goal which appeared to take a bounce over Ciara Jackman’s hurley as she came out to clear the danger and Linda Sullivan was on hand to finish to the net.
Kate Kenny put over a brace of scores to extend St. Rynagh’s lead by the 12th minute but points from Laoise Forrest and Aoife Fitzgerald from a free had the sides level by the 16th minute.
Gailltír however were somewhat unlucky not to be in front at this stage as Laoise Forrest with her first score of the game opted correctly to kick the sliotar rather than strike it with her hurley, but she saw her effort rise over the crossbar when it looked like a goal was on.
Aoife Fitzgerald edged Gailltír back in front on 19 minutes but five minutes later the sides were all square once again when Siobhan Flannery split the posts after she was picked out by Kate Kenny.
Ciara Jackman made an incredible save on 26 minutes when she got what appeared to be her arm to a ball that appeared destined for the roof of her net from an effort by Mairead Daly.
Kate Kenny put the reigning champions one in front on the half hour mark, but the sides went to the dressing rooms all square (1-4 each) for the fourth time when the hard working Laoise Forrest registered her second of the game deep in first half added time.
St. Rynagh’s started the second half brightly going two points up inside four minutes.
Kate Kenny opened the second half scoring when she put over a free and they extended their lead on 34 minutes with a Grainne Dolan point from play.
Aoife Fitzgerald responded with a brace of scores both from frees to draw the sides level once more before Mairead Daly and Laoise Forrest swapped scores to tie the scoring 1-7 each mid-way through the second half.
St Rynagh’s won the game in a sixty-second spell in the early exchanges of the final quarter. Siobhan Flannery was fouled on the edge of the square on 47 minutes and referee Barry Nea was quick to award the Offaly side a penalty.
To the credit of the Gailltír players there were no arguments or trying to convince the officials that the foul happened outside the line. In a one on one with Ciara Jackman in the Gailltír goal, Róisín Egan blasted to the net to give her side a three-point cushion, and just seconds later Kate Kenny fired over to give her side a 2-8 to 1-7 lead.
Kate Kenny and Annie Fitzgerald, from frees, swapped scores before there was an exchange of scores this time by Mairead Daly and Molly Comerford.
Annie Fitzgerald, having taken over free taking duties after her cousin Aoife was called to the sideline, fired over a brace of scores either side of the hour mark to leave just two between the sides.
The question now was would the supporters of the Gailltír side see a dramatic finish to a game for the second time in a week following on from Ballygunner’s win at G.A.A. Headquarters a week earlier.
Unfortunately for them it was not to be as the last score with the penultimate strike of the ball went the way of the Offaly champions when Siobhan Flannery put over a free from a position next to the sideline.

Gailltír: Ciara Jackman, Maeve Sheridan, Hannah Flynn, Aoife Hartley, Leah Sheridan, Clodagh Carroll, Emily Mahony, Kate Lynch, Shauna Fitzgerald, Anne Corcoran, Ciara O’Sullivan, Annie Fitzgerald; Laoise Forrest, Aoife Fitzgerald, Alannah O’Sullivan.
Sub: Molly Comerford for Aoife Fitzgerald (44).
Scorers: Aoife Fitzgerald 0-4 (4F), Alannah O’Sullivan 1-0, Laoise Forrest, Annie Fitzgerald (3F) 0-3 each, Molly Comerford 0-1.

Saint Rynagh’s: Ellen Gilligan; Sinead Moran, Elaine Sullivan, Meadbh Doorley; Emma Corcoran, Grainne Dolan, Katie O’Connell; Helen Dolan, Róisín Egan; Linda Sullivan, Sinead Hanamy, Mairead Daly; Louise Mannion, Kate Kenny, Siobhan Flannery.
Sub: Róisín Daly for Elaine Sullivan
Scorers: Kate Kenny 0-6 (3f), Róisín Egan (Pen), Linda Sullivan 1-0 each, Siobhan Flannery (0-1f), Mairead Daly 0-2 each, Grainne Dolan 0-1.

Referee: Barry Nea (Westmeath).