The Victorious Dublin Senior Ladies Football Squad After Winning The Dub Stars Game
The Victorious Dublin Senior Ladies Football Squad After Winning The Dub Stars Game





By Daire Walsh

All-Ireland 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.

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.

Dublin Senior Ladies Football Squad
Dublin Senior Ladies Football Squad

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 representatives.

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.

2017 Dub Stars Squad
2017 Dub Stars Squad

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 goal.

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 cushion.

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.

Dublin’s Noelle Healy Is Presented With The Winning Trophy
Dublin Star Noelle Healy Is Presented With The Winning Trophy

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's Julia Buckley Tries To Strip The Ball From Sabrina Moloney
Dublin’s Julia Buckley Tries To Strip The Ball From Sabrina Moloney

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.

Dublin Full Back Katie Murray Tackles Oonagh Whyte From The Dub Stars
Dublin Full Back Katie Murray Tackles Oonagh Whyte From The Dub Stars



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).

Dublin Forward Noelle Healy Wins The Player Of The Match Award
Dublin Forward Noelle Healy Wins The Player Of The Match Award

DUB STARS 2017: Martha O’Connor (Kilmacud Crokes); Laura McGinley (Naomh Barrog), Sarah Quinn (Foxrock/Cabinteely), Ciara Ni Mhurchadh (Foxrock/Cabinteely); Sarah Fagan (Clontarf), Martha Byrne (Cuala), Sinead Burke (Ballyboden St Enda’s); Eadaoin McGuinness (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).