Bornacoola Ladies completed a remarkable Championship double as they followed up last year’s Junior A Championship success with victory in the 2012 McWeeney Coach Hire Intermediate Championship after an enthralling contest with St Francis in front of a large attendance at Fenagh on Saturday evening last.
The teams had reached this final having met at the Group stages last month and had played out a 4-8 to 3-11 draw so this eagerly awaited contest was sure to gripping and so it proved as fortunes swayed either way at various stages of this encounter.
Both teams were very evenly matched which resulted in tremendous individual battles right through the field that kept the supporters enthralled and the very best of ladies football spirit, skill and determination was in evidence from both teams.
Both sets of players displayed great teamwork as they went in pursuit of Intermediate Championship honours but in the end the ability of the Bornacoola girls to create and take goal chances allied to a resolute defiance in defence which just refused to give up a goal and tremendous work rate around the field when St Francis pressure was at its strongest proved to be the vital difference as they struck out for match winning leads at crucial stages of each half.
On an ideal evening for football at the excellently presented Fenagh venue, Bornacoola were first off the mark when Kelly Howard pointed from play in the opening minute. A pointed free from Stephanie Reynolds had the St Francis girls back on terms by the third minute as both teams endeavoured to gain superiority.
Nadine Hackett from play and Ciara McPartland from a free had traded points by the tenth minute when Maeve Daly (free) edged the St Francis combination into the lead for the first time. Howard and McPartland had a point each, both from frees, before the Bors made what proved to be a crucial scoring burst in the last ten mins of the first half.
Nadine Hackett, Kelly Howard and Leonie Duffy had points from play before Hackett scored her first goal of the contest. Having been put through and seeing her initial effort rebound off the post she reacted quickest to finish the rebound to the net to give the Bors a 1-6 to 0-4 half time advantage.
St Francis took the fight to the Bors girls in the first ten minutes of the second period. Pointed frees from Ciara McPartland and Ailish Cornyn, and points from play from Cornyn and Siobhan McGovern reduced the deficit to one before Howard from a free got the Bors second half account off the mark.
Denise Sorohan reduced the deficit to the minimum from play before a Bornacoola break down the field released Hackett and she buried the ball in the net to open a four point lead for the Bors and gave them a bit of breathing space.
Daly pointed a free as St Francis fought back however their hopes were dealt as blow as Ailish Cornyn was sin-binned as the game reached melting point. Points from play from Howard and Selina Shanley reopened the Bors five point lead as they stretched for home. McPartland and Naomi Faughnan traded points from play as the game had entered injury time.
During the seven mins of injury time added on the numerical advantage moved onto the other side as Cornyn re entered the fray and the Bors lost Rachel Duignan to the sin bin.
Despite a lot of St Francis pressure in the closing minutes the Bors defended their goal in resolute fashion with great numbers behind the ball and timely interceptions led to a number of breaks up field as they controlled the contest in the latter stages.
With referee Jimmy Stenson’s final whistle had held out for deserved and historic victory.
Following the match, amid scenes of great celebration, Bornacoola captain Jillian Duignan was presented with the Mary O’Brien Kelly Memorial Cup by Chairperson of Leitrim Ladies GAA Martina Gilmartin and Nadine Hackett was awarded the Player of the Match award.
It’s onto the Connacht Club Intermediate Championship for the Bors where they will meet the Sligo Intermediate winners and in 2013 they can look forward to playing in the Leitrim Senior Championship for the first time in their history.
It has been a rewarding 12 months for them having made their mark on Leitrim Ladies Championship Football with back to back championship wins and progress from Junior through Intermediate to Senior in successive seasons.
St Francis will look back on what might have been but can be satisfied in the knowledge that that they contributed richly to what was a gripping contest all through and with the ability they have in their ranks will be force to be reckoned with in this grade in the future.
Susan Shanley, Cora McCauley, Rachel Duignan, Maeve Duffy, Shannon Boyle, Jillian Duignan, Sarah Duffy, Charlotte Faughnan, Naomi Faughnan (0-1), Sheena Faughnan, Selina Shanley (0-1), Kelly Howard (0-5), Leonie Duffy (0-1), Nadine Hackett (2-2), Fiona Reilly.
Michelle Monaghan, Lorraine Beirne, Nicole McGovern, Lauren Beirne, Fiona Kane, Mairead McCauley, Tanya McPartland, Ciara McPartland (0-4), Tara Scott, Emma Dunne, Denise Sorohan (0-1), Stephanie Reynolds (0-1), Maeve Daly (0-4), Ailish Cornyn (0-2), Siobhan McGovern (0-1).
Referee: Jimmy Stenson.