Breffni girls one step away from defending All-Ireland crown

Ladies football All-Ireland U16 Platinum semi-final

Cavan 1-10

Dublin 1-2

Aideen Coyle

After picking up their provincial title back in late April Cavan U16’s continued their defence of their All-Ireland title on Thursday evening against Leinster champions Dublin. Cavan recorded a seven-point win over Down in the Ulster final to lift a third consecutive Ulster platinum title whilst Dublin beat Kildare in the Leinster decider.

Cavan came into this clash with confidence, having defeated Cork in a replay in the All-Ireland final last year and with a number of survivors from that team on board. With the U14 Cavan ladies having been beaten in extra-time in the All-Ireland 'A' final recently and the minor team also flying high, Cavan have been competing very strongly at all levels and they took another step forward here as they marched on to yet another All-Ireland decider in the premier grade - and they did it in fine style, too.

A defensive masterclass from the Breffni charges kept Dublin scoreless for 56 minutes and limited them to just three scores across the hour, two frees and a consolation goal late on in the tie. At the opposite end Niamh McCaffrey was outstanding up front for Cavan finishing the tie with six points as Cavan comfortably advanced to the All-Ireland final.

Playing with the aid of a strong wind in the opening half Cavan made the dream start hitting 1-01 inside the opening minute to open up a lead they would hold for the remainder of the tie. Captain Emilia Mussi won the throw-in and seconds later Abby Reilly opened the scoring from a free after a foul on Briana Quaile. From the resulting kickout Reilly had the ball in the back of the Dublin net with a cool finish past Martha Whelan to put Cavan into an early four-point lead.

Dublin replied with their opening point from a Zara Flood free seconds after theattacker seen an effort of goal come back off the upright. Cavan’s backline led by the excellent Caitlin Crowe, Gia McCabe and Annie Crowe kept Dublin scoreless for the remainder of the half with Fainche Higgins pulling off a number of fine saves including a 28th minute save to brilliantly deny Phoebe Mackin from close range.

Scores were at a premium in Kinegaad with Cavan finishing the half with three more, two from frees to open up a 1-04 to 0-01 lead at the break. Niamh McCaffrey pointed two frees either side of a well taken point from Sarah McAvinney after excellent build up play from wingback McCabe.

Cavan picked up where they left off after the resumption with more brilliant defending ensuring Dublin wouldn’t register their second score of the game till the 26th minute whilst in this timeframe Cavan hit five of their own to open up an eleven-point lead. McCaffrey opened the halves scoring in the 4th minute after the hardworking Kate McSeain denied Olivia Hanley a score at the opposite end with a brilliant interception.

With ten minutes on the clock Sarah McAvinney had a goal chance denied by brilliant defending from Ellen Morgan. Cornafean’s McCaffrey continued to be a thorn in Dublin’s side kicking three points in quick succession to open up a ten-point lead for the Ulster champions midway through the half.

As Cavan continued to dominate proceedings a second from Reilly after a clever pass from Mussi stretched their lead further. With 26 minutes played in the second half Zara Flood pointed a second free to end the Leinster side’s drought. To their credit, Dublin kept battling and two minutes later reaped the rewards as substitute Emma Reddin broke the deadlock with a well taken goal. However, the final score of the half went to Cavan substitute Jane Hetherton who finished the tie with a well taken effort.

Cavan now advance to the All-Ireland final where they will face Connacht champions Mayo on July 13.

Cavan: Fainche Higgins, Kate McSeain, Annie Crowe, Holly Forde Peat, Kyra Comiskey Caitlin Crowe, Gia McCabe, Emilia Mussi (C), Eimear Gannon, Sarah McAvinney 0-01, Abby Reilly 1-02 (1f), Briana Quaile, Niamh McCaffrey 0-06 (4f), Molly Smith, Katie McGahern

Subs used: Ciara Brennan for K Comiskey, Jane Hetherton 0-01 for S. McAvinney, Kayla O’Reilly for M. Smith, Lola Matthews for B. Quaile

Dublin: Martha Whelan, Réka Kiss Kalló, Laura McGlinchey, Ellen Morgan, Clara Woods, Keeva O'Donovan, Cara Coffey, Sophie McDonnell, Issy Harrell, Ellie Reen, Kate Keane, Grace McCoy, Molly Bourke, Zara Flood 0-02 (2f), Phoebe Macken

Subs used: Olivia Hanley for Bourke, Eilise Stuart for Macken, Emma Reddan 1-00 for McCoy, Ella Jenkins for Harrell, Grace Fitzgerald for Hanley

Ref: Shane Curley (Galway)