All-Ireland Senior Ladies Football
Championship Relegation Semi-Final
Waterford will contest next year’s All-Ireland Senior Ladies Football Championship after they overcame the challenge of Tipperary in a thrilling battle at Callan on Saturday afternoon.
This was a game that was expected to go to the wire, and so it did with Waterford needing a converted penalty off the boot of top scorer Maria Delahunty to finally fight off the challenge of Tipperary.
The Premier county now play Cavan in a relegation play off final, a repeat of the Division Two National League Final played earlier this year, a game that was won by Tipperary to secure back to back promotions. The scenes of sheer relief on the faces of the Waterford team after this game had to be seen to be believed.
The season promised so much for Waterford but injuries to key players at different times of the year made things at times very difficult for the side.
Waterford will be relieved that they will not now have to play Ulster opposition in a relegation final, as they have found it tough going against Ulster opposition recently.
It was a tight opening to the game as Gillian O’Brien and Maria Delahunty exchanged early scores, before Delahunty and Aisling McCarthy swapped scores to keep the sides deadlocked on the score board.
A point from Mairead Wall followed for Waterford which was added to by the first of a brace of first half goals from Michelle Ryan put Waterford four in front on seven minutes.
Aileen Wall made it a five point game with her first score but the Premier Ladies struck back with two scores from the two Aisling’s.
Maria Delahunty extended Waterford’s lead before Aisling McCarthy cancelled out Delahunty’s score and the same player added a goal moments later when Kelly Moroney misjudged the ball and the umpires indicated that the ball cross fully over the line as Tipperary drew level.
The Premier Ladies went two in from when Sarah Everard and Siobhan Condon split the Waterford posts but Waterford would finish strong as Aileen Wall and Katie Murray both had white flags waved before Michelle Ryan finished past club mate Lauren Fitzpatrick to put Waterford 2-7 to 1-7 in front after 27 minutes.
Before the break both sides hit once further score as Maria Delahunty and Kate Davey split the posts at opposite ends of the field to see Waterford turn around with a 2-8 to 1-8 advantage.
Aisling McCarthy opened the second half scoring for Tipperary but Waterford followed up with scores from Maria Delahunty, Aoife Murray and another from Maria Delahunty to put Waterford five in front.
Tipperary however never gave up and they hit the next three scores, two coming from Aisling Moloney and one from Niamh Lonergan to leave their side trailing 2-11 to 1-12.
Maria Delahunty and Aisling Moloney swapped scores before Aileen Wall got her third of the game to put Waterford 2-13 to 1-13 in front with time almost up.
In the third minute of added time at the end of the hour, Tipperary goalkeeper Lauren Fitzpatrick made a foot block from a Maria Delahunty effort leaving referee Jonathan Murphy with no option but to award a penalty and send the Ballymacarbry club player to the sideline, and from 12 metres Maria Delahunty made no mistake in sending the size four to the back of the Tipperary net.