Michaela Brady, St Mary's Rochfortbridge, with Moate Ladies duo Vanessa O'Brien and Therese Geoghegan giving chase, in last Thursday's SFC game.

Strong first half propels Rochfortbridge to victory over Moate

St Mary's, Rochfortbridge 1-14, Moate 1-5

An impressive first half performance provided the platform for a St Mary’s, Rochfortbridge victory over Moate Ladies, in the Westmeath LGFA Senior Championship at Moate Community School pitch last Thursday evening.

In essence, the game was won in the first half as the saints opened up a commanding lead of 11 points (1-9 to 0-1) before the interval and while Moate produced a gritty second half, they couldn’t turn this game around.

St Mary’s, Rochfortbridge are clearly determined to atone for last year’s final defeat by Milltown and they look well capable of challenging for the title again this year.

Conditions were breezy, but dry as Moate took the lead through a point from midfielder Therese Geoghegan in the first minute. A goal was on, but Geoghegan fired the shot over the crossbar.

St Mary’s, Rochforbrigde then scored an unanswered 1-9 to take firm control: Michaela Brady set up Kacey Geoghegan for their first point after two minutes and that was the harbinger to brighter times.

When Ayesha Roche was fouled, the impressive Megan Brick converted the free to put Rochfortbridge a point ahead in the seventh minute; Ayesha Roche was almost in for a goal but Moate survived. Megan Brick soon added a point from a free, while midfielders Aoife Brady and Niamh McDermott combined for the latter to point.

Nicola Judge combined with Michaela Brady who got her side’s fifth score of the match; Brady then turned provider, setting up Ava Balfe for a minor.

The goal came on 22 minutes: Rochfortbridge full forward Nicola Judge found the net to make it 1-6 to 0-1 and that was a severe dent to Moate’s chances. A Megan Brick free added to the Rochfortbridge lead and she repeated that a minute later. In the closing stages, Megan Brick’s angled pass found Aoife Brady, who shot over.

While the lead was considerable, the game remained fiercely competitive and Moate almost got in for a goal 10 minutes into the second half, but substitute Orlaith Craven failed to get full power in her shot and Selina Brady saved. Emma Collins' pointed free reduced the leeway and when Tara Hughes was impeded, Emma Collins again converted for Moate’s third point.

However, time was ticking ominously on and Moate really needed either a goal or a flurry of scores to turn this game around. They relied on another Emma Collins free in the 52nd minute to cut the leeway further.

Rochfortbridge will look to improve on their second half display, but they had enough in hand and Fiona Coyle’s pass sent Kacey Geoghegan clear for a point. It was their first score in 22 minutes, but they built on it through Megan Brick, who took a pass from Jenny Judge and fired over.

Moate pressed hard in search of a goal and Chloe Moran almost made the breakthrough, but her shot flew over the crossbar. Rochfortbridge replied when Ayesha Roche’s pass found Kacey Geoghegan, who shot over. Megan Brick added a free on the hour mark.

The Moate goal only arrived in the fifth minute of added time as Holly Keenan played the ball inside for Orlaith Craven to find the net from close-range. However, it was last year’s finalists who had the final say here as Megan Brick notched her sixth free of the evening to complete a fine victory.

Player of the match: A very well balanced St Mary’s, Rochfortbridge side had solid displays from Donna Cleary, Aoife Brady, Niamh McDermott, Ava Balfe, Ayesha Roche, Fiona Coyle, Kacey Geoghegan and Megan Brick. With a fine tally of 0-7, it’s Megan Brick who gets the overall nod.

Scorers - St Mary’s: M Brick 0-7 (6f), N Judge 1-0, K Geoghegan 0-3, A Balfe, A Brady, M Brady and N McDermott 0-1 each. Moate: O Craven 1-0, E Collins 0-3 (3f), T Geoghegan and C Moran 0-1 each.

St Mary’s Rochfortbridge: Selina Brady; Lisa Flanagan, Aoife Moran, Rebecca Moran; Fiona Coyle, Donna Cleary, Niamh Carey; Aoife Brady, Niamh McDermott; Michaela Brady, Ava Balfe, Ayesha Roche; Kacey Geoghegan, Nicola Judge, Megan Brick. Subs: Jen Whelehan for N Carey, Jenny Judge for N Judge, Emma Collins for AM Moran, Lucy Brogan for A Moran, Emma Treacy for A Brady, Orla Collins for A Roche, Laura O’Sullivan for N McDermott (inj.).

Moate: Niamh Geoghegan; Shóna Neary, Nicola McCormack, Lorna Flanagan; Rebecca Finlay, Fidelma Nolan, Louise Payne; Therese Geoghegan, Vanessa O’Brien; Anne-Marie Moran; Carol Price, Claire O’Donoghue; Tara Hughes, Chloe Moran, Emma Collins. Subs: Orlaith Craven for L Payne, Holly Keenan for F Nolan, Aimee Smyth for C Price.

Referee: Patrick McGauran (Coralstown/Kinnegad).