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Ladies Win Senior Championship

16/Sep/2010

Goals win games is a cliché as old as match reports and it was goals that made the difference for a nervous Cloone side who had to work extremely hard to over-come a valiant St. Joseph's side to finally claim the Cox's Steakhouse Leitrim Ladies Senior Championship title in Pairc Sheain Ui Eslin, Ballinamore last Sunday.

A Cloone side who were scoring machines in games all year found their shooting boots deserting them somewhat against a St. Joseph’s team who recovered from a poor first half to push them all the way to the final whistle.

But it was that poor first half and three goals that did the damage for St. Joseph’s as Cloone used their greater experience of the big day to settle better and stake their claim for a title so long in the possession of Aughawillan that they must have felt they would never win it.

Goals from Lorraine Brennan, Aoife Kelly and Una Creegan gave Cloone the ideal cushion and for the majority of the first half, it seemed that the goals had cowed a very young St. Joseph’s into submission as County Final nerves may have contributed to a lack-lustre display from the Aughavas and Cloone side.

But it was the fourth goal of the first half that transformed this contest – Mary O’Brien blasted home a gift goal after a poor clearance almost on the stroke of halftime and it transformed St. Joseph’s attitude.

Instead of a demoralised St. Joseph’s, we saw their players run in at halftime as if they were leading of trailing by five points. Maybe that contributed to a nervous Cloone second half as it was their resilience in defence rather than attacking edge that saw them through this one.

St. Joseph’s launched a determined fight-back as three unanswered points midway through the second half to leave them just two points in arrears and momentum seemingly with them.

But once Deirdre Moran saw her shot brilliantly block, Cloone seemed to get themselves back on track as they pinned their neighbours back in their own half, points from Lorraine Brennan and Una Creegan re-opening a four point gap and stopping St. Joseph’s momentum stone dead.

For a Cloone team that have appeared in just as many Senior Finals as their long time opponents, someone mentioned 17 consecutive Finals, their victory was just their second and long over-due for a team who have consistently delivered at this level.

It was that experience that saw them come through against a St. Joseph’s team who promise to win multiple titles in the years ahead – when the pressure was greatest, player of the match Aisling Brennan, Carla Creegan, Andrea Beirne and Noreen Colreavy came up with the big tackles. Brennan got through a load of work in defence and attack and was always an outlet for a pass from her team-mates.

Sinead Brennan and Eileen Donohue didn’t have the sort of day they would normally expect when it came to finishing chances but the work-rate of the experienced duo was a massive factor in denying St. Joseph’s a Senior title at their first attempt.

St. Joseph’s didn’t make it easy for Cloone either and once they overcame their early nerves, they fought tooth and nail with their neighbours – Vanessa Gallogly & Ciara Gray impressed in defence, Deirdre Moran looks like a fabulous prospect, the Heslin
ADVERTISEMENT sisters again showed up well as did Clare Owens.

Considering that they started the game with six Minors, time is very much on St. Joseph’s side and once they gain the experience that Cloone possess, St. Joseph’s are going to be very hard stopped.

Eileen Donohue converted a first minute free but St. Joseph’s replied when Aine Heslin set up Mary O’Brien for a fifth minute point. But Cloone got a massive boost a minute later when Eileen Donohue played a wonderful cross from the right wing. The ball went over the head of the last defender, into the arms of Lorraine Brennan who side-stepped the defender to blast the ball to the net.

St. Joseph’s almost had the perfect reply when Mary O’Brien got a fist to a Deirdre Moran free but as both sides missed chances, Cloone were hitting wides from Una Creegan & Sinead Brennan while Sandra Brady made a good save from Aoife Kelly on ten minutes.

However, Kelly wasn’t denied for long when her snap shot found the one spot that keeper Brady couldn’t reach, the ball going into the net off the inside of the post on 13 minutes.

St. Joseph’s hit back with Deirdre Moran setting up Michelle Heslin for a fine point on 16 minutes but after a period of stalemate, Cloone struck a dagger blow into St. Joseph’s hearts with a third goal. Aisling Brennan’s long ball towards Eileen Donohue saw two defenders collide and the ball hit off them, it fell to Lisa Reynolds.

Reynolds sprinted in and passed to Una Creegan who buried the ball in the back of the net. Creegan was on the mark three minutes later with a fine point, Aisling Brennan the provider with Deirdre Moran replying for St. Joseph’s from a free.

As the game ticked towards halftime, St. Joseph’s were handed a huge lifeline – literally! Siobhan McCartan saw a goal bound shot half-blocked but keeper Annette Donnelly incredibly passed the ball straight to Mary O’Brien who drilled home a goal to leave the halftime score at 3-2 to 1-3 in favour of Cloone.

The early second half exchanges saw Cloone dominate but fail to add to their score as they hit three wides in the first three minutes from Lorraine Brennan and Eileen Donohue and it was St Joseph’s who were first off the mark, Deirdre Moran converting the free.

Teresa Mylott did well to cut out a dangerous Clare Owens pass while Deirdre Moran and Aine Heslin misses chances before Clare Owens pointed after playing a one-two with Aine Heslin to leave just three points between the teams after ten minutes.

The gap was down to two a minute later when Deirdre Moran got on the end of a good move to score a great point but the Joseph’s player had a shot crucially blocked while Lorraine Brennan saw a shot hit the post and rebound clear.

However, Brennan had better luck when she gathered Lisa Reynolds cross from the corner to point on 15 minutes. Both sides missed chances before Carmel Monaghan gathered a poor kick-out and set up Una Creegan for a fine point on 18 minutes.

Cloone seemed to take over again but started to hit costly wides, Sinead Brennan put a fifty short while Aisling Brennan saw an effort held by the keeper and the tension levels rose again when Ciara gray raided from defence and saw her shot go over, hitting the top of the crossbar on the way.

However, with less than three minutes to go, an Eileen Donohue free eased Cloone’s nerves and put them four clear. St. Joseph’s needed goals but with Cloone’s defence not allowing them any room to operate, all they had to show for their efforts was a late Sharon Kerrigan free nearly three minutes into added time.

Cloone

Annette Donnelly, Pamela Nicholls, Carla Creegan, Grainne McGowan, Andrea Beirne, Teresa Mylott, Noreen Colreavy, Aisling Brennan, Sinead Brennan, Carmel Monaghan, Aoife Kelly, Lisa Reynolds, Lorraine Brennan, Eileen Donohue, Una Creegan. Subs: Patricia Forde for Nicholls (19 mins), Yvonne Reynolds for U. Creegan (54 mins),

St. Joseph’s

Sandra Brady, Sharon Kerrigan, Ciara Gray, Marina Gray, Grainne O’Malley, Vanessa Gallogly, Yvonne Brady, Michelle Heslin, Alanna Bohan, Clare Owens, Siobhan McCartan, Lorraine Moran, Deirdre Moran, Mary O’Brien, Aine Heslin. Subs: Fionnuala Bohan for M. Gray (32 mins), Caitriona Brennan for O’Brien (36 mins), Phillipa Maguire for O’Malley (57 mins).

Referee: Eamon O’Grady.

(Courtesy of Leitrim Observer).