McEvoy fires Dubs to win
THE Dublin bus pulled into Kildare's state-of-the-art Centre of Excellence at Hawkfield in Newbridge last Sunday.
It's a fabulous facility. Impressive clubhouse, pitches and floodlights as far as the eye can see, and even a neat little seated stand.
There was hardly a seat left as the audience enjoyed a fine TG4 Leinster Senior Championship spectacle.
Kildare were excellent in pockets. They asked some stiff questions. The Blues didn't dodge any in the big, black chair.
The Jackies had to graft for the victory, 1-14 to 2-4. Sinead Goldrick proved the heartbeat of the Dublin side. She ran to the Curragh and back. Goalkeeper Cliodhna O'Connor also made a vital contribution to the outcome.
Two minutes into the second half, at the scoreboard end, she dived full length to push away a stinging drive from Brianne Leahy that was speeding to the top right-hand corner.
Soon after, Maria Moolick's punt was dropping like a parachute in front of Cliodhna's kitchen. A firm fist from Ireland's number one changed its flight path.
And then there was a remarkable moment just before the break when Eimear Fogarty's shot hit both the bar and the post.
It rebounded out to Catherine O'Malley, but O'Connor's sharp reaction and courage prevented another certain goal.
It allowed Dublin to lead at the interval, 1-5 to 0-3. The goal came on 28 minutes. It was most welcome.
The hosts were doing a fair impression of the white tornadoes at the time.
It was a brilliant pitch-length move that began with O'Connor. Quick feet and quicker hands saw the ball eventually reach Niamh McEvoy, whose arrow nestled in the bottom left-hand corner. Three rapid points following the tea granted the Dubs an imposing look -- 1-8 to 0-3, with the scores coming from McEvoy, Sinead Aherne and Amy McGuinness.
Moolick replied with a tasty home point before the Kildare goal arrived in the 44th minute when Fogarty released Aine Gately. Her initial shot was blocked but she was clinical with the rebound.
Only four points between them now. A test for Dublin's character. Yet almost immediately, Aherne sent over a beauty.
Brianne Leahy was then sin-binned for a high tackle. It looked harsh. She protested her innocence. The challenge was on Goldrick, who brushed it aside and kept on running.
Dublin proceeded to ease for home with elegant returns from Sinead Finnegan, Fiona Hudson, Colleen Barrett, McEvoy and Olivia Leonard.
Deep in injury-time, the tie provided an extra slice of drama. Dublin captain, Gemma Fay, conceded a penalty. She also headed for the sin-bin.
The Kildare 'keeper, Mary Houlgrane, dusted down her passport to make the long journey up to take the kick. She produced the perfect peno, low to the right.
With the commanding Cliodhna between the sticks, the strike had to be just that -- spot on.
DUBLIN: C O'Connor; G O'Malley, J O'Sullivan, S O'Mahony; R Ruddy, S Goldrick (0-1), F Hudson (0-1); G Fay, S Finnegan (0-1); O Leonard (0-2), A McGuinness (0-2), C Murphy (0-1); S Aherne (0-3), N McEvoy (1-2), A Ring. Subs: C Barrett (0-1) for Murphy; A McKenna for O'Mahony; N Hyland for McGuinness; S Woods for Ring.
KILDARE: M Houlgrane (1-0, pen); K Lowrey, A Savage, N Quinn; K Leahy, A Holton, D Tierney; J Timmons, L Keatly; M Carey, B Leahy, A Gately (1-1, 0-1f); E Fogarty (0-2, 1f), M Moolick (0-1), R Byrne. Subs: C O'Malley for Byrne; D Berry for Carey; S Hurley for O'Malley; A Lambe for K Leahy; A Quinn for Fogarty.
REF: D McEnery (Westmeath).