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Minor Girls Win Excellent Championship Final
Oct. 17, 2019
MINOR B CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL: Belcoo 6-9 v 5-7 Belnaleck
Where to start in what was another epic game of football involving our young Girls team. The Minors completed an unbeaten season and added the Championship Trophy to their league title secured last month. An amazing achievement for such a young side.
This game typified the group of Girls we have as they worked tirelessly for an hour while producing a style and brand of fantastic football. Some excellent passages of play, passes, interceptions, tackling, and blocking, all at a high pace and intensity which lead to scores and prevented others as they emerged victories from a wonderful battle with parishioners Belnaleck. 6-9 to 5-7 the final score as the game went to the wire.
It all started at a frantic pace and in truth there was barely a moment to catch breath throughout it. Belcoo worked a great move early on, Michelle Cullen, Sam Martin, Mikayla Maguire involved as Danielle McLaughlin went clear, a brilliant recovery tackle from a Belnaleck defender seen a block made.
The games first score came on 3minutes as Cullen offloaded to the supporting Sinead Barrett and she weaved past a tackle to kick a long-range point. The response was a really good goal from Shanna Cassidy as the Belnaleck centre half forward picked up possession and powered downfield to thump in an unstoppable shot past Riona Keaney.
It was already developing into a classic in the early part of the contest. Belcoo rattled a second point, Ciana McGrath won back possession in the defence, the ball was moved forward by the Barrett sisters Sinead and Aine before the latter found the on-rushing Scarlett O’Connor who slotted over a neat score. Down the field came Belnaleck, they threatened a goal, but Cassidy was crowded out and a foul given, she duly knocked over the free kick.
Upfield the O’Rahilly’s marched again, Aine Barrett picked up the kickout from Keaney, Michelle Cullen was found with a neat kick pass, she drilled a low one bouncer into Danielle McLaughlin who gathered and fed Mikayla Maguire for her first point of the contest. The reply was a second Belnaleck goal, a fortunate one as midfielder Anne Guette’s shot for a point dipped under the bar, Keaney had no chance again. 12minutes played, Belnaleck holding a 2-1 to 0-3 lead.
There was a five-minute spell of no scores. Belcoo had been playing well until the final third of the field, credit the overworked Belnaleck for denying and pressuring every effort. The O’Rahilly’s failing to convert as they hit several wides. Belnaleck relieved the pressure and with their first venture back down the field Shanna Cassidy drilled over a long-range point.
The Belcoo defence made some great turnovers at this juncture, Niamh McAloon and Sinead Barrett came out with balls having cut out passes while Ciana McGrath and Cara Gray forced two overcarries. Crona Higgins was working hard in the middle sector and Belcoo ended a 10minutes spell without a score when Mikayla Maguire knocked over the point from the right side. This was matched however at the other end so with 7minutes to half time it was still Belnaleck who held the advantage, 2-3 to 0-4.
Belcoo were to finish the half strongly and more importantly they converted the opportunities that their good play had yielded, and efforts deserved. Sinead Barrett, now operating in the half forward line, jinked through the oppositions defence and popped over a fine score. Barrett then won a kickout, picked out Danielle McLaughlin and she fired a great shot to the back of the net to leave just a point between the sides. 2-3 to 1-5.
Belnaleck pushed a further point clear when Cassidy struck from distance again but it the O’Rahilly’s powerful finish to the half seen them go in at the interval ahead. Ciana McGrath, Scarlett O’Connor and Sinead Barrett combined in a patient passage of play before Aine Barrett took up possession and evaded a few tackles and thumped over from distance. Mikayla Maguire followed up with a long range free before Maguire netted a goal with the last action of the half. Belcoo 2-7 v 2-4 Belnaleck.
The large support and players had a few moments to take stock of the 30minutes just played.
If they thought the second half was going to be any less intense they were soon made aware it wasn’t. The opening 4minutes of the second half seen four goals scored. Both sides registering two each. It was end to end, high octane stuff.
Belnaleck drew level one minute into the half with a low drilled effort. Belcoo got their kickout away to Ciana McGrath on the right side, she drilled the ball to Scarlett O’Connor some 50yards from goals out on the wing, O’Connor beat her player and drove forward at pace before finding the net. This time, Belnaleck got their kickout away and down the field they moved to see another dipping shot nestle in the net. The sides level again but this time Cara Gray was the provider for Sinead Barrett who weaved her way forward and thumped the ball to the top right corner of the net. 4-7 to 4-4.
The hectic opening to the half continued, Shanna Cassidy pointed on 36minutes after Aisling Keenan had powered forward but Belcoo worked the ball well upfield again. Sam Martin and Scarlett O’Connor combined before Sinead Barrett took up the ball and raced through at pace, she was hauled down inside the penalty area and up stepped Michelle Cullen to tuck the penalty into the corner of the net. 5-7 to 4-5, the O’Rahilly’s five up.
There was a lull in the scoring but certainly no lull in the action and intensity of the game. The pace, pressure, hard work and skill level on show was tremendous. Sinead Barrett came into her own making some incredible high catches, Scarlett O’Connor was covering an almighty amount of ground on the ball down the right side, Mikayla Maguire was always showing for the ball with Aine Barrett, Michelle Cullen and Crona Higgins getting on a lot of possession. Defensively Arlene Furey had quietened Shanna Cassidy’s influence on proceedings with Ciana McGrath having a fine game at wing back.
Belcoo gave themselves some breathing space when Aine Barrett stormed down the field to take a recycled ball and kick a fine point. In the 42nd minute Mikayla Maguire would score her second goal of the game to move her side into a room on the scoreboard. 6-8 to 4-5.
Eve Barrett entered the fray and her speed and general liveliness seen her pick up several balls down both channels as the O’Rahilly’s retained possession while Aoife Keaney entered the fray moments later for Crona Higgins who was cramping, Keaney put herself about, pressurising and defending well.
The O’Rahilly’s had coped well with all Belnaleck had to offer over this period in the game. Points in the 52nd and 55th minute was all that were conceded as the game entered the final stages, seven between them.
It was soon 4points as a Belnaleck shot took two deflections en route to the net. Belcoo however won their kickout and kept the ball around the middle third of the field for the closing three minutes of normal time, Sinead Barrett did kick a fabulous point from 30yards in the final minute. The O’Rahilly’s Michelle Cullen claimed the net kickout and fired wide before the last exchanges of the contest seen Cullen win possession and power upfield, another wide was hit but it was as good as a score at this stage and within a few seconds the final whistle was blown. Belcoo winners by 5points on a 6-9 to 5-7 scoreline.
It was a breath-taking game and a fitting one to finish the Youth season. The players were greeted by parents, siblings, family members and supporters after the game on the field before Michelle Johnston presented Scarlett O’Connor with the player of the match award before giving joint captains Michelle Cullen & Crona Higgins the trophy. It was the last ever game at Youth level for the pair of these girls. We congratulate our players and management on a great campaign and look forward to doing it all again next season.
Team (13 a side) Riona Keaney, Cara Gray, Niamh McAloon, Ciana McGrath, Arlene Furey, Sinead Barrett (1-3), Michelle Cullen (1-0), Crona Higgins, Aine Barrett (0-2), Sam Martin, Scarlett O’Connor (1-1), Mikayla Maguire (2-3), Danielle McLaughlin (1-0). Subs Used: Eve Barrett, Aoife Keaney. Unused: Ciara Nolan, Eimear Gray, Siofra McAloon, Rachel Nolan and Niamh Cullen.
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