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Syls ladies new season with Dublin begins with All Stars

All-Ireland Ladies champions Dublin enjoyed a winning start to 2018 on Sunday afternoon, when they held off a late rally from the Dub Stars in their annual challenge New Ireland Assurance encounter at the DCU Sportsgrounds.
DUB STARS 2017 4-08

By Daire Walsh
Pics by GAA Pics

A hat-trick of goals from half-time substitute Noelle Healy placed Mick
Bohan’s side in the driving seat, and even though three-pointers by Laura
Nerney and Fiona Claffey kept the Stars in contention during the closing
stages of the contest, the county side finished with three points to spare
over their opponents.

Of the 20 players that saw game time in Dublin’s Brendan Martin Cup success
over Mayo at Croke Park last September, 14 of them were in action at the St
Clare’s venue. Healy was joined on the Sky Blues bench by team captain
Sinead Aherne, while Martha Byrne (Cuala), Niamh McEvoy (St Sylvester’s)
and Hannah O’Neill (Foxrock/Cabinteely) were named in the Stars line-up.

This was ideal preparation for Dublin ahead of their National League opener
against Donegal on January 28, and despite threatening to pull away on a
number of occasions, they were eventually pushed to the wire by the club

The Stars sought to close down Dublin’s route to goal in the early moments
of the play, as they kept a number of bodies deep inside their own half.
However, their opponents still found a way to break through for a clear-cut
opportunity in the third-minute, which was palmed to the net by Clann
Mhuire’s Carla Rowe.

This was an early hammer blow for Stars - who were jointly-managed by Pat
Ring, Mark Kelly and John McKeown - and Dublin added to their lead with a
fine Eabha Rutledge point eight minutes after Rowe’s major.

Stars had created some promising openings in between these two scores, but
facing into a stiff breeze, they struggled to find their range. A number of
shots drifted into the arms of Ciara Trant, though the St Brigid’s
shotstopper was relieved to see an effort by raiding half-back Sarah Fagan
drifting past her left-hand post.

A Rowe point from a left-hand angle enhanced the Dublin lead, before the
Stars challenge finally kicked into gear on 19 minutes. Oonagh Whyte (who
had just been introduced on the edge square) released Niamh Rickard, and
the Fingallians corner-forward fired to the roof of the net for a superb

This was swiftly followed by a Jennifer Dunne free, as their persistence
was beginning to pay off. The bare minimum separated the sides at this
juncture, and following traded scores from placed-balls by Rowe and Dunne,
it remained as a one-point game.

It was quite a low-scoring affair in comparison to the Junior Dub Stars
encounter that preceded it, but thanks to a terrific Denise McKenna single
on the half-hour mark, Dublin did enter the interval with a 1-4 to 1-2

The cavalry was called upon during the half-time break, though, and this
understandably gave Dublin a significant edge when the play re-started.
Healy, Aherne and Nicole Owens were all named on the 2017 Ladies All-Star
team after outstanding campaigns in blue, and their very presence in the
Sky Blues forward line was enough to keep the Stars defence on their toes
throughout the second half.

It was Whyte who initially drew first blood for the Stars with a
32nd-minute point, but this was followed by a superb Healy goal at the
opposite end. The Senior Players’ Player of the Year jinked past a number
of challenges to fire clinically beyond the reach of Martha O’Connor.

A routine Aherne free was cancelled out by Rickard at the opposite end, but
courtesy of excellent approach work by Emily Flanagan, Healy was presented
with the opportunity to claim her second goal in the space of four minutes.

She did so with much aplomb, and also split the posts off her trusty
right-foot from the resulting attack. Dunne’s third free released some of
the pressure off Stars’ shoulders, only for Healy to once again secure
maximum points at the end of a typically incisive attack.

This left the Stars with a serious mountain to climb in the closing 20
minutes, and a superbly-executed Whyte three-pointer provided them with a
much-needed lifeline. Points from the Clann Mhuire star and the experienced
McEvoy, either side of an Owens contribution for Dublin, kept them within
touching distance of the competition holders.

Dublin continued to offer a considerable goal threat, though, and their
fifth of the outing arrived through Danielle Lawless 11 minutes from the
end. This appeared to place the outcome beyond doubt, and a second point by
Owens - the provider in chief for Lawless’ calm finish - stretch their lead
into double figures.

Yet, Stars remained resilient as the final whistle approached, and a Laura
Nerney goal was supplemented by points from the dynamic attacking duo of
Whyte and McEvoy. A Lyndsey Davey score had given Dublin some breathing
space, and although Fiona Claffey joined her Foxrock/Cabinteely compatriot
Nerney in getting the better of Trant in stoppage-time, they came up just
short in the end.

Scorers - Dublin: Noelle Healy 3-1, Carla Rowe 1-2 (0-1f), Danielle Lawless 1-0, Nicole Owens 0-2, Sinead Aherne (f), Eabha Rutledge, Lyndsey Davey,
Denise McKenna 0-1 each. Dub Stars 2017: Oonagh Whyte 1-3, Niamh Rickard
1-1, Laura Nerney, Fiona Claffey 1-0, Jennifer Dunne 0-3 (3f), Niamh McEvoy 0-1.

DUBLIN: Ciara Trant (St Brigid’s); Ciara Lynch (St Sylvester’s), Katie
Murray (Clontarf), Leah Caffrey (Na Fianna); Aoife Kane (Kilmacud Crokes),
Niamh Collins (Foxrock/Cabinteely), Lucy Collins (Na Fianna); Muireann Ni
Scanaill (Fingallians), Olwen Carey (Thomas Davis); Eabha Rutledge
(Kilmacud Crokes), Lyndsey Davey (Skerries Harps), Carla Rowe (Clann
Mhuire); Sarah McCaffrey (Clontarf), Denise McKenna (Fingallians), Rebecca
McDonnell (Clanna Gael Fontenoy).

SUBS: Heather Smith (Garda/Westmanstown Gaels), Noelle Healy (St Brigid’s),
Sinead Aherne (St Sylvester’s), Nicole Owens (St Sylvester’s), Shannon
Murtagh (Fingallians), Kate Fitzgibbon (O’Toole’s), Maria McGrath
(Ballyboden St Enda’s), Emma McDonagh (Foxrock/Cabinteely), Lauren Magee
(Kilmacud Crokes), Deirdre Murphy (St Brigid’s), Danielle Lawless (St Sylvester’s), Emily Flanagan (Ballyboden St Enda’s), Mia Jennings (Kilmacud
Crokes), Julia Buckley (Kilmacud Crokes).

DUB STARS 2017: Martha O’Connor (Kilmacud Crokes); Laura McGinley (Naomh
Barrog), Sarah Quinn (Foxrock/Cabinteely), Ciara Ni Mhurchadh
(Foxrock/Cabinteely); Sarah Fagan (Clontarf)u, Martha Byrne (Cuala), Sinead
Burke (Ballyboden St Enda’s); Eadaoin McGinness (Naomh Maur), Fiona
Claffey (Foxrock/Cabinteely); Jennifer Dunne (Cuala), Hannah O’Neill
(Foxrock/Cabinteely), Hannah O’Dea (Cuala); Colleen Barrett (St Brigid’s),
Niamh McEvoy (St Sylvester’s), Niamh Rickard (Fingallians).

SUBS: Laura Nerney (Foxrock/Cabinteely), Sinead Goldrick
(Foxrock/Cabinteely), Megan Foley (Naomh Maur), Gemma Thorne (Naomh Maur),
Olivia Leonard (Naomh Maur), Jess Tobin (Cuala), Siabh Hannigan
(Parnell’s), Oonagh Whyte (Clann Mhuire), Katie Norgrove (Skerries Harps),
Sabrina Moloney (Lucan Sarsfields).

Player of the Match: Noelle Healy (St Brigid’s).

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