By Alan Foley at O’Rourke Park, Castlerea
Geraldine McLaughlin had her shooting boots on at O’Rourke Park in Castlerea today as Donegal got off to a winning start in the TG4 ladies All-Ireland Senior Championship Group 1.
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.
After a glut of goals in the Ulster final, Donegal had to be content to chip over the points in this clash. 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.
McLaughlin and Bonner stretched Donegal’s lead out to six points before an Aisling McCarthy free pulled on back for Tipperary on 37 minutes.
Four minutes later, Samantha Lambert was penalised by referee Garryowen McMahon for a foul on McLaughlin and a penalty was awarded, but 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.
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 12th soon 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 for Donegal: G McLaughlin 0-12 (7f), Y Bonner, K Guthrie, K Herron, N Heagrty 0-1; E Ward 0-1 (0-1 pen)
Scorers for Tipperary: A Maloney 0-9 (3f), G O’Brien 0-3, A McCarthy 0-1 (1f), N Longeran 0-1.
Donegal: L Gallagher; T Doherty, N McLaughlin, D Foley; T McCafferty, C Hegarty, AM McGlynn; K Herron, A McDonnell; K Guthrie, N Hegarty, SJ McDonald; G McLaughlin, Y Bonner, E Ward.
Subs: O McCafferty for N McLaughlin (48), C Grant for Guthrie (56), E Gallagher for McDonald (60).
Tipperary: L Fitzpatrick; L Dillon, M Vurley, B Conlon; AR Kennedy, S Lambert, S Condon; A McCarthy, O O’Dywer; C Condon, A Moloney, N Longeran; R Howard, M Morrissey, G O’Brien.
Subs: K Davey for Condon (56), A O’Shea for Morrissey (59), Sarah Everand for O’Brien (59).
Referee: G McMahon (Mayo).