Castleknock Ladies crowned Dublin Intermediate Football Champions 2022
By Daire Walsh
Following the heartbreak of final defeats in 2020 and 2021, Castleknock finally got their hands on the Go Ahead Dublin Intermediate Ladies Football Championship crown at Lawless Park on Saturday evening.
Powered by impressive displays from Aisling O’Neill and Aoife Whelan, ‘Knock held off the claims of Parnell’s to secure the silverware on offer and book their place in the senior grade for 2023. Between them, corner-forwards O’Neill and Whelan combined for a grand tally of 0-10 to supplement a final-quarter goal by Caitlin Coffey.
Whereas ‘Knock had lost to Cuala and St Sylvester’s in the preceding deciders, Parnell’s had previously earned intermediate honours with a final victory over neighbours Clontarf in 2015. Rachel Kelly and Emma Lawlor did their utmost to get them back into the top-tier, but the Coolock women fell just short in the end.
This was the second meeting between these two teams in this year’s competition, following a thrilling Group A encounter at Somerton Park back on August 17. Parnell’s edged that contest on a final scoreline of 5-10 to 4-11 and went on to finish at the summit of the table with four straight wins.
Castleknock had shared the spoils with Naomh Maur in their first game of the campaign, before back-to-back successes at the expense of St Jude’s and Lucan Sarsfields helped them to claim the runners-up spot. This meant an early trip out to Lawless Park for a semi-final showdown against Fingallians last Wednesday week, but Peter McKenna’s charges came through that penultimate phase clash with five points to spare (3-13 to 1-14).
Parnell’s played host to Clann Mhuire at St Anne’s Park on the same night and recorded an impressive 1-19 to 2-12 victory.
Despite featuring for Bohemians in the FAI Women’s Cup semi-final against Shelbourne at Tolka Park just under two hours earlier, Chloe Darby was named in the Parnell’s midfield. It was her side who drew first blood in this game as Kelly got on the end of a fast-paced move to fire home a sixth-minute goal.
While this was an early set-back for ‘Knock, there was plenty of time for them to settle into their groove. Although they posted a number of wides in the opening quarter, unanswered points from Aisling O’Donnell (free) and Dublin camogie star Whelan cut the deficit to the bare minimum.
Nevertheless, Parnell’s were growing in confidence as the action developed and two points from Lawlor in the space of 60 minutes helped them to reinforce their authority. O’Neill and her opposite number Kelly proceeded to trade scores, before ‘Knock finally hit a purple patch with the interval quickly approaching.
The impressive triumvirate of O’Neill, Whelan and wing-forward Aisling O’Connor all found the range from open play to level matters on 29 minutes. However, Parnell’s kept their composure and a Megan Colman point – after a Kelly free had shook the woodwork – offered Martin Whelan’s side a slender 1-4 to 0-6 buffer at the break.
Castleknock remained very much in touch, however, and turned the screw when the action resumed. After O’Connor was fouled, O’Neill converted a 36th-minute free off her left foot and repeated this act moments later to edge her team into the ascendancy for the very first time.
It took Parnell’s a while to find their feet in the second half, but parity was restored as a result of Colman finding the target with 42 minutes gone on the clock. Yet O’Neill was coming into her own at the opposite end and her superb two-point salvo from open play saw ‘Knock establish daylight on the third-quarter mark.
Parnell’s quickly halted this momentum thanks to scores from substitute Ceileigh McDonald and the increasingly prominent Colman, only for their opponents to put themselves in a powerful position with a mini blitz in front of the posts. Whelan kicked her third point of the game on the stroke of 50 minutes and this was swiftly followed by Coffey’s finish to the roof of the net after the industrious midfielder had burst through a defensive gap.
This looked set to be the catalyst for a Castleknock victory, but quickfire efforts from Lawlor and Kelly ensured Parnell’s were still in the reckoning. Even though O’Neill registered her seventh point of the tie from a 25-metre free as the hour approached, ‘Knock had to negotiate a lengthy spell of stoppage-time.
Owing to a succession of hold-ups, a grand total of 13 minutes was added on by the match officials. This led to some nerve-wracking moments for the ‘Knock faithful as Parnell’s pushed with all their might for the scores that would – at the very least – force the game into extra-time.
Niki Kaiser did split the uprights in the dying seconds of the game, but this wasn’t enough to deny Castleknock a hard-fought win.
Scorers – Castleknock: Aisling O’Neill 0-7 (3f), Aoife Whelan 0-3, Caitlin Coffey 1-0, Aisling O’Donnell (f), Aisling O’Connor 0-1 each. Parnell’s: Rachel Kelly 1-2 (0-2f), Emma Lawlor, Megan Colman 0-3 each, Niki Kaiser, Ceileigh McDonald 0-1 each.
CASTLEKNOCK: Amy Mahony; Nicola Fagan, Jenny Hickey, Louise Mahony; Emma Strappe, Sinead Comerford, Denise Convery; Caitlin Coffey, Lauren O’Neill; Aisling O’Connor, Lauren Manning, Laura Carolan; Aoife Whelan, Aisling O’Donnell, Aisling O’Neill. Subs: Tara King for Mahony (39), Aisling Kenny for Convery (52), Eabha Mooney for L O’Neill, Hannah Hanlon for O’Donnell (both 59), Eimear Griffin for Whelan (71).
PARNELL’S: Chloe Downes; Shauna Corr, Chloe Lawless, Ellen Grant; Leona Corr, Aisling Kane, Aoife Manning; Dominique Darby, Chloe Darby; Emma Lawlor, Eimear Canty, Niki Kaiser; Aoife McGrath, Megan Colman, Rachel Kelly. Subs: Ceileigh McDonald for McGrath (46), Teni Onigbode for (61).
Referee: Ray McBride (Round Tower Clondalkin).
Thank you from Team Management
As the dust settles on the Dublin Championship season for 2022, I would like to thank you all for your continued support of our Senior Ladies Football Team this year. We hope you know how much you are appreciated and how important you have been in our successes this year. Because of you, we have had one of the best home game environments in the country, and an unrivalled travelling support group for all away games.
The management team and I are privileged to be working with such an incredibly special group of young Women. A group who continue to inspire all those around them, and one all of us in Castleknock GAA can be very proud of. It has been an honor and a pleasure for me personally to manage this team, and I look forward to continuing our journey together next year at Senior Championship level. A special thanks must go to Robert Mc Carty, Mags Heelan, Michelle Moore, Brendan Griffin, Christina Mc Mahon, Glen Kelly, Shane Carolan and Anita O Brien, who have worked tirelessly together as a management team to ensure our Ladies are provided with everything they so rightly deserve.
I also want you all to know how much we appreciated your phenomenal support in Swords this past Saturday evening. While we reflect on the achievement of championship success, we want you to know your wonderful support was both recognized and greatly appreciated. It’s been an incredible year for Castleknock Ladies Football, and the achievement of 3 adult championship titles in one season serves as a clear indicator of the bright future ahead for our club.
Please be proud of your team’s success and your role in these achievements.
Peter Mc Kenna