Monday 24th July 2023
TG4 All-Ireland Ladies' JFC semi-finals
Down 1-9 Carlow 0-8
Orla Swail was the goalscoring hero as the Mourne county held off a stubborn Carlow challenge to book their place in this year’s All-Ireland junior final.
The Ulster champions will face Limerick in next month’s decider at Croke Park.
This semi-final was played in a very wet Parnell Park yesterday afternoon and went right down to the wire, Down no doubt breathing a huge sigh of relief when the final whistle was blown.
Swail’s goal came in the 56th minute and at a time when Down led by the narrowest of margins, 0-8 to 0-7, after Carlow had just had a goal disallowed that would have given them the lead for the first time since the opening minutes and when Down had been reduced to 14 players with captain Meghan Doherty sin-binned just three minutes earlier.
The goal was just rewards for a very patient period of play, where they held onto the ball before carving the opportunity that saw the Carryduff player strike low to the back of the net and get the vital goal.
It was a huge blow for Carlow who had got themselves back into the game thanks largely to Rachel Sawyer and Clionha Ni She after they had trailed by two at the break, 0-6 to 0-4, not allowing Down to get any more than two points in front.
It was a very stop-start affair, played out in poor conditions, but there was a lot at stake and nerves were on display with both sides guilty of wides and efforts dropped short.
Carlow led 0-2 to no score thanks to Edel and Sinead Hayden points but five in-a-row for Down saw them pull away by four, championship top-scorer Ferris with three of those points, Aimee O’Higgins and Laois Duffy the others and they looked in control with a quarter of the game gone.
Scores dried up, with the next one not coming for another 10 minutes, Sawyer on target for Carlow, but Ferris replied for Down before Sawyer had the last say of the half to keep the Leinster side very much in it at half-time.
It was score-for-score in the second half but Swail’s major was the difference, putting four between them with four minutes of normal time remaining and they held on through injury-time despite Carlow throwing everything at them in the last seconds.
Down N Ferris 0-3 (1f); O Swail 1-0; L Duffy & E Fitzpatrick 0-2 each; A Brogan & A O’Higgins 0-1 each
Carlow R Sawyer 0-4; C Ni She (f), E Hayden, S Doyle & S Hayden 0-1 each