Samantha Lambert and the Tipperary players pictured celebrating their division two league final win over Cavan.
Following the defeat suffered at the hands of Kerry (2-10 to 3-13) on Saturday at MacDonagh Park, Nenagh the Tipperary team have it all to do when the outfit managed by Shane Ronayne face Donegal in a make-or-break TG4 All-Ireland Senior Ladies Football Championship tie on Saturday, July 21st at Castlerea, Roscommon (throw-in 2pm).
The Tipperary ladies footballers are competing in group one of the TG4 All-Ireland Senior Ladies Football Championship alongside Donegal and Kerry with the top two progressing to the quarter-finals. And, although Donegal have yet to play a game in this season’s All-Ireland championship they were more than impressive when they blasted 9-21 past Armagh in the Ulster decider. Indeed, Tipperary manager Shane Ronayne has revealed that Donegal may well feature the “best set of forwards in the country”.
“We played Donegal in a challenge game a couple of weeks before the Cork game (Munster semi-final). It was a very good game and Donegal are seriously good. They put up an incredible score in the Ulster final and they have probably the best set of forwards in the country,” Shane Ronayne explained to the Tipperary Star.
“We did compete with them that night - there was only a point in it and we played very well. It gave us great confidence going forward, but that confidence seems to have ebbed away a bit from the girls. And, I suppose we just have to try and get that back into them. We could have beaten Donegal that night, but, look, Donegal have been waiting now for (us) for five weeks. They have a lot of work done and they have a very astute management team. Maxi Curran has been around in the men’s game - he was involved with Jim McGuinness when they won the All-Ireland and he will know us inside out at this stage. It is going to be a huge task to beat them next weekend, but, look, we will have a cut and that’s all that I can ask of the girls,” the Tipperary ladies football manager said.
For large parts of Saturday’s contest with Kerry the Tipperary ladies football team played especially well. Indeed, thanks to a stunning Róisín Howard goal Tipperary led 1-3 to 0-4 with twenty-one minutes of a highly-entertaining contest played. Kerry, however, responded with a devastating surge to open a nine-point gap prior to the interval (1-3 to 2-9) when the Kingdom blasted 2-5 without reply.
“We are very disappointed - we thought we were going okay and after twenty minutes we were leading by two and then we had a crazy ten minutes before half-time when they scored 2-5 without reply. At this level, when you are playing the top teams, you can’t give them leads like that. It put us under too much pressure in the second half. We got it back to four, but Kerry went up the field and scored a goal again which gave them that cushion. We are just disappointed with that spell before half-time. We didn’t react very well when they scored a goal and then the heavens just opened,” Shane Ronayne admitted.
“It’s something that we are really going to have to look hard at; where we went wrong and what we can do to sort it out because we have a big task ahead of us next week against Donegal. We are very disappointed. We felt we were ready for today, but, maybe, we are not at the level yet. It’s a learning curve and, hopefully, we can get something out of the next game because you are in a bit of danger of going down again. It’s real cutthroat, but, hopefully, we can lift our heads and have a cut off Donegal next week. Then we can see where that takes us.”
Overall Kerry conceded twenty-three frees, but Shane Ronayne was not prepared to point the finger at Kerry regarding what may have been described as cynical play.
“You can complain about referees all you want, but they had that bit of tactical nous and that bit of cuteness. They committed a lot of tactical fouls out the field and, look, that’s senior football,” Shane Ronayne said.
“We have to, maybe, bring that into our game. Let’s call a spade a spade: that’s what the best teams do. It’s not all about this nice airy-fairy game and non-contact - that’s not ladies football at all. We just need to get cuter at this level. The best teams have that little bit of an edge to them. And, we certainly need to get that bit of an edge into our game.”
A degree of controversy surrounded the TG4 All-Ireland Senior Ladies Football Championship clash between Tipperary and Kerry. The game was originally scheduled to take place on Sunday, July 15th, but when the game was switched to Saturday, July 14th dual star Orla O’Dwyer was forced to play for the Premier County’s senior ladies football team and senior Camogie team within hours of one another. And, Tipperary manager Shane Ronayne indicated that “the blame lies solely with the Kerry County Board”.
“We kept very quiet about it since the whole thing arose,” Shane Ronayne said before explaining that the game was switched at the request of the Kerry ladies football board “because there was parents of players on their ladies team who had players on the men’s team as well” - the Kerry senior football team faced Galway at Croke Park, Dublin on Sunday, July 15th.
“This is no sour grapes on our part - Kerry were by far the better team today, but that was very unfair on a player who is absolutely committed to both teams. The blame lies solely with the Kerry County Board. They refused to play the game on the Sunday. We thought the game was on the Sunday and it was suddenly put back onto the Saturday. The main concern was Orla O’Dwyer and Orla O’Dwyer was discommoded today by the Kerry ladies football board. It’s just very unfair. I think it was very, very poor form that parents were put first. The players should have been put first,” Shane Ronayne added.
Unfortunately, Tipperary star Jennifer Grant was ruled out of Saturday’s clash with Kerry due to suspected Achilles tendon rupture. And, Shane Ronayne was eager to wish the veteran well.
“Jennifer has a suspected ruptured Achilles tendon,” Shane Ronayne revealed.
“She has been nursing it there for the last couple of weeks and, unfortunately, last night at home she heard a pop and it is absolutely devastating for her. She has been so committed. She has gone through the mill for everybody and played through injuries and come back after tough times. I am just praying that it is not a full rupture - that maybe it is only something small. At the moment we don’t know, but, look, our hearts go out to her and our thoughts are with her today. She is a huge part of this team and, hopefully, fingers-crossed, it won’t be as bad as it is looking.”
Management team: this season the Tipperary senior ladies football team is managed by Shane Ronayne (Mourneabbey, Cork) alongside mentors Anne-Marie Ruby (Mourneabbey, Cork), Elaine Harte (Moyne-Templetuohy), Tony Smith (Moyle Rovers), James O’Leary (Galtee Rovers) and Alan O’Connor (Cahir).
The TG4 All-Ireland Senior Ladies Football Championship quarter-finals are scheduled to take place on Monday, August 6th and Sunday, August 12th, the semi-finals on Saturday, August 18th and Saturday, August 25th and the final on Sunday, September 16th.
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