After suffering defeats in their two previous outings, St. Joseph’s finally ascending to the top of the pile in Leitrim Ladies football when they defeated a resilient Mohill in an entertaining Senior Championship Final under lights last Monday in Cloone.
With an impressively large crowd considering the unusual timing of a Monday evening, Mohill started impressively and finished strongly but they couldn’t match the superior strength of a St. Joseph’s team determined to avoid defeat for a third successive defeat after losing to Cloone and Dromahair in recent years.
With Player of the Match Michelle Heslin looking dangerous every time she got the ball and an attack that boasted a real threat in Carmel McGovern and Catherine Dolan, St. Joseph’s looked dangerous when they moved with pace and width, causing the Mohill defence no end of problems.
Withdrawing Sharon Kerrigan to the middle of the field meant that Mohill’s county duo of Deirdre Ward and Kiara Keegan didn’t have the impact their team would have hoped for as the hard running duo were often confronted by a wall of disciplined defenders.
Alanna Bohan and Clare Owens tracked back, closing down Mohill’s attacks and then found the energy to provide an outlet for passes out of defence, a defence where Yvonne Brady, Siobhan McCartin and Ciara Gray stood out time and time again with vital interceptions and clever positioning to cut out Mohill attacks.
Vanessa Gallogly was detailed to mark the dangerous Dearbhaile Beirne and did a good job but the Mohill youngster wasn’t helped by a poor supply and a massed St. Joseph’s defence that ensured that she never got the room she likes to break free of the defence’s attentions.
As disappointed as they may have been with the result and their supporters complained bitterly of the performance of referee Eamon O’Grady, a very young Mohill team performed with enough promise and determination to suggest that they will be a major force in the years to come.
Considering they were without the likes of Charlene Tyrell, Deirdre McDermott and the Egan sisters, it was a remarkable performance from a team that will learn much from this experience and will take some beating in the years to come.
The one major pity is that St. Joseph’s have lost the chance to represent Lei trim in the Connacht Club Championship, the delay in the Leitrim competition meaning that the county had to forfeit their place in the provincial competition.
Mohill almost started the game in the best possible fashion when Caoimhe Canning broke through the St. Joseph’s rear-guard only to see her shot cleared off the line at the expense of a fifty while Dearbhaile Beirne saw a shot punched out by keeper Sandra Canning.
St. Joseph’s replied when Michelle Heslin finished off a good move started by Sharon Kerrigan and Carmel McGovern with a fine point. Two Deirdre Moran frees followed soon after as Mohill already seemed to be labouring against the fast moving St. Joseph’s attack.
Mohill’s Aileen Flynn did score a fine point under pressure to open her team’s account but St. Joseph’s continued to create but crucially miss good chances. Mohill were, however, dealt a blow when Talitta Quinn was sin-binned after she pulled down the dangerous Carmel McCartin.
However, Mohill responded well to the loss of Quinn, upping their work-rate and with St. Joseph’s missing two frees, it took good work from Michelle Heslin and McCartin to set up Clare Owens for a point. Captain Catherine Dolan curled in a great point on 19 minutes as St. Joseph’s moved four points clear.
Caoimhe McGuinness showed good skill with a nice chip to narrow the gap but Mohill had a let-off when Michelle Heslin’s shot hit the wood-work and rebounded clear. Catherine Dolan added a second to re-open a four point gap before St. Joseph’s had an escape of their own, Dearbhaile Beirne seeing her shot across goal hit the wood-work and rebound clear.
The U-14 player did convert a late free to leave the halftime score 0-6 to 0-3 in favour of St. Joseph’s but the game dramatically just 15 seconds into the second half when Catherine Dolan and Clare Owens cut through the centre of the Mohill defence and Michelle Heslin finished off the move with a clinically taken goal.
Kiara Keegan blasted wide as Mohill tried to respond but Catherine Dolan was desperately unlucky to see her shot hit the post after a great St. Joseph’s move on nine minutes. Deirdre Moran added a free but Mohill continued to create chances.
Yvonne Brady did well to intercept Kiara Keegan’s crossed ball after the ball broke loose in front of the St. Joseph’s goal on 19 minutes. At the other end, Mohill keeper Kate O’Neill made a good save to deny Michelle Heslin a second goal after she burst clean through on goal.
Caoimhe McGuinness converted a free to leave six points between the teams with seven minutes to go but the Mohill goal continued to live a charmed life as O’Neill made a great save to deny Heslin again while Heslin then blasted wide when put through and also hit the base of the post when she seemed certain to score.
Mohill suffered a blow when Talitta Quinn suffered a heavy knock in a shuddering collision with Clare Owens as both players came together with fierce intensity. Quinn incredibly played off after a long stoppage but was forced to come out of the game in the final minutes.
O’Neill’s heroics continued for Mohill as she made her best save of the game to deny Deirdre Moran who was again clean through on goal. And O’Neil’s defiance seemed to be paying off when sub Emma Tuthill crossed the ball for the wing and Lorraine McDermott showed a captain’s leadership as she won the ball and forced it home from close range.
With five minutes of added time, St. Joseph’s were rattled but showed admirable resolve as Ciara Gray broke up a Mohill counter-attack. Michelle Heslin and Carmel McGovern tried to work a scoring chance, setting up Siobhan McCartin for the insurance point. Mohill kept fighting but couldn’t break down the massed St. Joseph’s defence who held out to celebrate a famous victory.
Sandra Canning, Vanessa Gallogly, Ciara Gray, Grainne O’Malley, Fionnuala Bohan, Siobhan McCartin (0-1), Yvonne Brady, Alanna Bohan, Clare Owens (0-1), Deirdre Moran (0-3), Michelle Heslin (1-1), Lorraine Moran, Carmel McGovern, Sharon Kerrigan, Catherine Dolan (0-2). Subs: Aine Heslin for L. Moran (38 mins), Carmel McCartin for Dolan (56 mins), Louise Mollahan for McGovern (64 mins).
Kate O’Neill, Olivia Gilmartin, Lorraine McDermott (1-0), Talitta Quinn, Claire Beirne, Mairead Stenson, Aileen Flynn (0-1), Deirdre Ward, Kiara Keegan, Caoimhe Canning, Lorna McDermott, Nicole Higgins, Caoimhe McGuinness (0-2), Dearbhaile Beirne (0-1), Michelle Beirne. Subs: Emma Tuthill for M. Beirne (47 mins), Kathy Keegan for T. Quinn (57 mins).
Referee: Eamon O’Grady.