There was to be no fairytale ending for Tyrone ladies at Croke Park last Sunday as Dublin ruled the roost in a fast-paced All-Ireland senior decider, writes Damien Donnelly.
This Tyrone team, though, still deserves plenty of credit not just for battling as best they could against such in-form opposition but for their uplifting championship campaign through the qualifers that included wins over long-term title holders Cork and then Kerry.
Sunday’s final started well for Dublin and they never really looked back, Tyrone losing full-forward Sarah Connolly through injury and slipping behind on the scoreboard as the opening half unfolded.
It got to the damage limitation stage during the second 30 minutes for Tyrone who courageously kept trying to the last hooter, net-minder Shannon Lynch doing her part with some good saves as wave after wave of Dublin raids rained in.
Tyrone manager Colm Donnelly and trainer Niall Colton gathered the squad together in a post-match huddle, offering words of comfort to the deeply disappointed girls.
Niall himself said afterwards that words were not easy to find following a match that went so much Dublin’s way. But Captain Sinead McLaughlin and Niall both bravely came out to chat with the press.
“Dublin were very good and put us under plenty of pressure. All the girls tried hard but it was not happening for us. “The test now is to dust ourselves down and come back for another crack next year.”
“We can take hope from some great results and performances en route to the final”, said the Drumragh ladies player.
“This is a tough one to get over given the manner of the defeat but that’s what we must try and do.
“Dublin started well and except for a brief spell in the middle section of the first half we never got close enough to ask questions of them”, said the St Dympna’s man.
Dublin established a 0-5 to 0-1 lead here after 12 minutes, Joline Donnelly getting Tyrone off the mark with a point but the signs looked somewhat foreboding as Dublin took command of most positions throughout the field.
Tyrone got it back to 0-5 to 0-3 with a couple of Gemma Begley points but in between Sarah Connolly’s game was brought to an unfortunate close through injury.
Sinead Ahern and team-mates were busily boosting Dublin’s score account and Amy McGuiness struck for their first goal on 18 minutes.
Nina Murphy, who came on for Sarah Connolly, booted over a fine point in reply but Aherne(point) and then Aherne(goal) gave Tyrone a big task for the second half.
Begley, who earlier could have been in line for a penalty award, saw a dipping shot tipped over the bar by Dublin custodian Cliodhna O’Connor as Tyrone went into the interval 2-8 to 0-5 adrift.
That Begley penalty moment at the end of a forceful run from the St Colmcilles player arrived when Tyrone were only a few points down but to no avail.
Aherne, McGuinness and Lyndsey Peat fired over points after the turnaround before Cathy Donnelly opened Tyrone’s second half scoring returns.
Sinead Ahern plundered a third Dublin goal as the final quarter loomed on the horizon and Tyrone had to show strong spirit to remain competitive.
Ailsing O’Kane, Neamh Woods, Shannon Quinn, the Donnelly’s and co kept battling away for the Red Hands despite the most testing of circumstances.
Double Joline Donnelly points plus one courtesy of Gemma Begley brought Tyrone’s disappointing day to a close but hopefully they can bounce back with resilience when a new season begins in 2011.
Tyrone Team: Shannon Lynch, Eimear Teague, Maura Kelly, Sinead McLaughlin, Maria Donnelly, Neamh Woods, Lynda Donnelly, Sarah Donnelly, Shannon Quinn, Cathy Donnelly, Gemma Begley, Aisling O’Kane, Catriona McGahan, Sarah Connolly, Joline Donnelly. Subs Used: Nina Murphy, Roisin Rafferty, Marie Gallagher, Orla O’Neill and Clare Scullion.