GERALDINE MCLAUGHLIN HAD her shooting boots on at O’Rourke Park Castlerea as Donegal got off to a winning start in the TG4 ladies All-Ireland senior championship Group 1.
DONEGAL 0-17 TIPPERARY 0-14
McLaughlin was in irresistible form for the team managed by Damien Devaney and Maxi Curran and her personal haul of 0-12 was hugely impressive despite being fouled incessantly throughout the course of the hour.
It means that Donegal and Kerry, who play next weekend for top spot in the group at Hyde Park, are into the All-Ireland quarter-finals and Tipperary are out.
Tipperary had succumbed to an opening day loss at the hands of Kerry last week in Nenagh, going down 3-13 to 2-10, so were fighting for their championship lives.
Donegal, on the other hand, were in action for the first time in the round-robin Group 1, with their last outing being the massively impressive Ulster final win over Armagh in Enniskillen last month, when they romped to a resounding 9-21 to 4-8 success.
With McLaughlin and Yvonne Bonner (nee McMonagle) both having amounted 3-6 apiece in that Brewster Park final, the Tipperary manager Shane Roynane knew his defence were in a busy afternoon in Roscommon.
However, Donegal had to content to chip over the points. By the break, the Ulster champions were 0-10 to 0-6 in front, with McLaughlin kicking eight of those – three from play – with Karen Guthrie and Katy Herron also on the mark.
Tipperary, who had trailed 0-4 to 0-0 at a stage, took a little while to settle but soon found their groove with the excellent Aisling Mooney at centre-field scoring three and Gillian O’Brien doing likewise.
Both goalkeepers made decent saves to keep their sheets clean. Firstly, on 18 minutes, Laura Gallagher in the Donegal goal charged from her line to make a brave block from Maloney. Then, at the other end, McLaughlin wriggled her way into space but was thwarted by Lauren Fitzpatrick.
McLaughlin and Bonner stretched Donegal’s lead out to six points before an Aisling McCarthy free pulled on back for Tipperary on 37 minutes.
At the break, the Donegal management had made their feelings known about what they felt was some cynical fouling by the Tipperary defenders and on 41 minutes, Samantha Lambert was penalised by referee Garryowen McMahon for a foul on McLaughlin and a penalty was awarded. However, Eilish Ward, attempting to drive into the top corner, could only manage a point as the ball fizzed high and right.
That gave Tipperary hope and a minute later, Maloney scored her fourth point of the afternoon with a fine individual effort.
Niamh Hegarty almost landed a Donegal goal but punched onto the post from a long ball in from Herron. At the midpoint of the second half, Donegal were 0-13 to 0-8 in front but not out of the woods. A minute later, following a brilliant individual run, McLaughlin rattled the Tipperary crossbar with goalkeeper Fitzpatrick rooted to the spot.
Both teams put in some splendid blocks in the second half as a goal never materialised. McLaughlin and Maloney, who kicked three in succession, traded points at both ends as Tipperary did reduce their arrears to four points – 0-14 to 0-10 by the 55thminute.
And when Maloney scored her eighth of the day – her second free – there was only three between them in the last minute. McLaughlin, though, popped over her 12thsoon afterwards to restore the four-point cushion before Niamh Hegarty and Niamh Longeran’s injury time points. Maloney pulled it back to three again in the sixth minute of injury time with the last kick of the game.
Donegal, having managed to just about keep Tipperary at arm’s length, can now pit their wits against the Kingdom.
Scorers: Donegal: Geradline McLaughlin 0-12 (7f), Yvonne Bonner, Karen Guthrie, Katy Herron, Niamh Heagrty 0-1; Eilish Ward 0-1 (0-1 pen)
Tipperary: Aisling Maloney 0-9 (3f), Gillian O’Brien 0-3, Aisling McCarthy 0-1 (1f), Niamh Longeran 0-1.
Donegal: Laura Gallagher; Teresa Doherty, Nicole McLaughlin, Deirdre Foley; Therese McCafferty, Ciara Hegarty, Anna Marie McGlynn; Katy Herron, Aoife McDonnell; Karen Guthrie, Niamh Hegarty, Sarah Jane McDonald; Geraldine McLaughlin, Yvonne Bonner, Eilish Ward. Subs: Olive McCafferty for N McLaughlin (48), Ciara Grant for Guthrie (56), Emer Gallagher for McDonald (60).
Tipperary: Lauren Fitzpatrick; Laura Dillon, Maria Vurley, Brid Conlon; Anna Rose Kennedy, Samantha Lambert, Siobhan Condon; Aisling McCarthy, Orla O’Dywer; Caoimhe Condon, Aisling Moloney, Niamh Longeran; Roisin Howard, Mairead Morrissey, Gillian O’Brien. Sub: Kate Davey for Condon (56) Aoibhe O’Shea and Sarah Everand for Morrissey and O’Brien (59)
Referee: Garryowen McMahon (Mayo)