Women’s Leinster Division One/Two playoff:
Clontarf 5 (N Taylor 2, C Simpson 2, C Byrne) Our Lady’s 1 (A Kelly)
Clontarf stormed back into Leinster Division One as they produced an excellent performance at Whitechurch Park on Sunday with Our Lady’s dropping back to Division Two.
Tarf earned the playoff as the best placed side in Division Two, finishing fourth in the table after rampaging through the second half of the season after a slow start.
They lost their first two games of that campaign, took until game four to score their first goal and it was game six before they won their first game but soon hit their stride and they would only lose once more.
It meant they crucially overtook Three Rock Rovers – who ended with just four losses but also drew nine times – and they carried that momentum through to this playoff tie against the side who finished 10th in the league above.
Clontarf started well, winning a short corner with 90 second played; Ciara Byrne showing great composure to slot home the rebound from a powerful ball in from Neasa McGettigan.
The rest of the half saw Clontarf control much of the game by using the width of the pitch to try and get around Our Lady’s press.
The Terenure side did have their purple patch but the Clontarf defense soaked up the pressure. With under a minute remaining in the first half, an accurate ball across goal from Sadbh Quinn saw Catherine Simpson claim her first goal of the day at the back post, making it 2-0.
In the second half, Our Lady’s came back fighting, winning a short corner within the first few minutes which they blasted in from top and neatly deflected into Clontarf’s goal by Aoife Kelly.
Our Ladys maintained the pressure and caught Clontarf on the back foot more than once. However, they struggled to get a clear sight of goal, with some fantastic tackles and composure from Maggie Fehily and Alannah Rothwell.
With Eadaoin Moore continuing to make crucial interceptions and great distribution and movement off the ball from mids Emer Mullins and Emily McMullen, Clontarf went 3-1 up with a superb diving sweep into the net from Simpson.
Even with a 3-1 lead, Our Lady’s kept on the pressure. A shot on Clontarf’s goal was saved by the right post and then the quick reactions of goalkeeper and captain Anna Egan, who swept the rebound away from the threat of an Our Lady stick.
A fourth goal came for Clontarf when Simpson split the defense with a quick pass to Nicola Taylor who took the goalkeeper on one on one, winning, and scoring, a penalty stroke with a clean flick into the corner.
With a comfortable lead, calm was maintained through quick ball pace and great control around the back between center backs Neasa McGettigan and Holly McMullen.
Within the last few minutes the quick feet and skill of Emer Mullins won a short corner and Nicola Taylor’s unstoppable drag flick sealed Clontarf’s victory.