Owens leaves it late to keep first NFL shot alive

by Gazette Reporter
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St Sylvester’s late, late match-winner Nicole Owens admitted that coming off the bench to score the decisive goal for Dublin against Galway in the Lidl Ladies NFL Division 1 semi-final was “not the ideal way” to clinch victory.

But Owens was pleased nonetheless to see Dublin advance to a final clash with Mayo on May 6 – and put themselves within an hour of a first-ever league crown.
Supersub Owens, who came on at half-time, struck at the death to deny Galway and she said: “It’s not the ideal way,” she said afterwards. “We left it until the end but we won. That’s all that matters.

“They led for the entire game and they really brought it to us and they’re probably feeling very sick. We’ve been in that position. We’ve had it snatched away from us in the last minute so it’s nice to be on the right side.

“We’re not entirely happy with that performance. At least we’re in a very, very opportunistic position where we get to go away for a few weeks and work on everything that let us down in that match going into the final.

“It was a poor choice of hand-passing, poor execution of hand passing and kicking. We brought our game down to a level that we’d built it up from over the last few years.

“Galway are a very, very good team and they played very well. But I think we played ourselves out of played ourselves out of most of the game.

“They didn’t score for the last 25 minutes which reflects so admirably on our defence. But we really struggled to get our own scores as well. And I suppose we were lucky that our defence put up such a strong resistance.”

Galway hit the ground running at the start, finishing to the net inside 60 seconds. Tracey Leonard, Caitriona Cormican and Nicola Ward did the spadework to set up Leanne Coen before a Leonard free on four minutes left it 1-1 to 0-0.

Dublin were creating and they forced two saves from Dearbhla Gower but did open through a Sinead Aherne free on eight minutes.

Leonard and Sinead Goldrick traded white flags but when Dublin did equalise on 20 minutes, their goal was as slick as Galway’s first.

Aherne and Emily Flanagan carved open space on the right before Lyndsey Davey was allowed her shot. Her attack needed assistance and Niamh McEvoy was placed to hit the net and the Leinster side were back in it.

They gave the perfect response on 23 minutes when Aine McDonagh found Mairead Seoighe and she found the top corner to make it 2-3 to 1-3.

Leonard and Olivia Divilly added points as Dublin went down to 14 players following an Olwen Carey yellow card but Aherne’s kick before the break left four between them.

The second half’s commencement started with Dublin still favoured but as time passed, they struggled to unlock their opponents.

Galway were 2-7 to 1-5 ahead on 38 minutes with Coen and Leonard raising white flags but that was their final score.

Lauren Magee had scored the Dublin minor and they gradually reduced arrears with McEvoy, Noelle Healy and Aherne reducing the gap entering stoppage time.

Both defences were working hard and both managements brought on fresh legs. It was always going to take something special to decide it and Owens delivered when required, starting the move and interchanging passes with a couple of team mates before getting bagging the crucial goal.

Galway needed one more point to force extra time and they had a late free that tailed just wide, as Dublin prevailed.

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