By Jackie Cahill at St Brendan’s Park, Birr
Cavan 1-15 Laois 1-13
Conor Barry’s Cavan set up a TG4 All-Ireland ladies senior football quarter-final clash with champions Cork on August 20, but they had to work hard for it against Laois today.
Aisling Doonan bagged 1-6 as Cavan recovered from their Ulster final loss to Monaghan but they surely face an uphill task against the Rebelettes next time out based on this performance.
Cavan struggled to put away a dogged Laois outfit at St Brendan’s Park in Birr but they held on for a two-point victory.
Cavan led by a point at half-time, 0-6 to 0-5, and looked to have laid the foundations for a comfortable win after playing against the breeze from the start.
But Laois could have been closer and arguably ahead had they taken a number of chances but the O’Moore girls finished the first half with ten wides, as Cavan registered six.
And Laois also suffered a major blow on the stroke of half-time when captain and full-forward Aileen O’Loughlin was unfortunately stretchered off with a suspected broken ankle.
The sides were level twice in the early exchanges but after Anna Moore slotted over a nice Laois point in the fifth minute, Cavan responded with three in a row to move 0-4 to 0-2 clear.
Noirín Kirwan’s free reduced the deficit but Cavan hit two on the bounce, both from Doonan, before another Kirwan free and Deirdre O’Shea’s point from play left Laois very much in contention at the midway point.
Roisín O’Keeffe put Cavan two points clear on the resumption before Caitriona Smith missed a glorious goal chance which, if taken, would have made life much more comfortable for the Breffni girls.
Laois hung in there and were level four times before the tide turned firmly in Cavan’s favour again when they registered 1-2 in two minutes.
Niamh Halton put Cavan 0-13 to 0-12 ahead before Doonan struck for goal with seven minutes left.
Halton’s effort hung in the air and Doonan won the aerial battle before slotting the ball home from close range.
Smith added a point and suddenly Cavan were five points clear – 1-14 to 0-12 – but they would finish the game with 14 players when sub Aoibhín Kiernan was sin-binned five minutes from time.
Meaghan Dunne soon revived the Laois challenge with a stunning goal from 20 metres and Kirwan’s seventh point had the gap down to the bare minimum again.
When Dollard saved brilliantly to deny Doonan a second goal, Laois remained very much in the hunt but O’Keeffe’s fifth point of the afternoon – and fourth from play – was the insurance score as pre-match favourites Cavan finally got the job done.
Scorers for Cavan: A Doonan 1-6 (0-3f), R O’Keeffe 0-5 (1f), C Smith 0-2, N Byrd & N Halton 0-1 each.
Scorers for Laois: N Kirwan 0-7 (3f), M Dunne 1-1, D O’Shea 0-3 (2f), A Moore & A Malone 0-1 each.
CAVAN: C Doonan; S Lynch, R Jordan, J Moore; S Reilly, L Fitzpatrick, S Greene; D English, R Crowe; R O’Keeffe, R Talbot, N Byrd; C Smith, A Doonan, N Halton.
Subs: S O’Sullivan for R Talbot (40), A Kiernan for Byrd (50).
LAOIS: C Dollard; L Nerney, J Moore, M Kirwan; A Haberlin, A Potts, A Moore; F Dooley, M Murphy; A Malone, D O’Shea, C Simms; M Dunne, A O’Loughlin, N Kirwan.
Subs: E Galvin for O’Loughlin (inj, 30), A Healy for Simms (56), M McEvoy for Malone (56).
Referee: D McEnery (Westmeath)