Glencar/Manorhamilton emerged as Minor 15-a-side- Championship winners on Saturday afternoon last in Leitrim Village but only after a hard fought contest with St Felim's that was more competitive than the final scoreline would suggest.
Muireann Devaney is so often the hero for Glencar/Manorhamilton and Leitrim underage sides and while she was once again in fine form, this was very much a solid team performance.
Team captain Orlaith Kelly led by example for Manor, scoring two late goals to put the gloss on a deserved win while Dearbhla Rooney and Leah Fox were also very much to the fore for Glencar/Manor.
From a St Felim's point of view it proved to be a frustrating afternoon. The Ballinamore/St Joseph's amalgamation suffered the blow of losing influential midfielder Emma McGovern in the closing stages of the first half and the players could have been forgiven for feeling sorry for themselves but they regrouped well during the interval with replacement Eadaoin Murphy influential in leading the second half charge.
The game began with both sides seeing early chances come to nothing before the deadlock was broken in the fifth minute courtesy of a fine point from St Felim's midfielder Maeve Hamill who got the better of two Glencar/Manor players before pointing.
Manor replied in style with three points in quick succession from Dearbhla Rooney (free), Orlaith Kelly (free) and Muireann Devaney.
In ideal conditions St Felim's showed no sign of being overawed by the occasion or their opponents and were back on level terms by the 12th minutes with two points from Emma McGovern, the first a free, the second an excellent burst through the middle that was followed by a quick exchange of passes and then an accurate finish.
Ciara McGoldrick was proving to be very effective for St Felim's as she dropped deep to mark Muireann Devaney. The hard work that St Felim's were putting in to the defensive side of the game took its toll on them in the second quarter of the game as more gaps appeared and Glencar/Manor fully exploited them.
Leah Fox regained the lead for Manor when she pointed from a tight angle and Dearbhla Rooney then extended the lead to two with another point.
The final 10 minutes of the half saw Glencar/Manor lift the intensity and suddenly St Felim's appeared to be struggling.
Four points in the space of six minutes from Eadaoin Clancy, Orlaith Kelly, Dearbhla Rooney and Aoife Gilmartin put Manor six clear before disaster struck for St Felim's when Emma McGovern was forced off with an injury.
Manor capitalised fully and turned the screw further before the interval with Muireann Devaney scoring the game's opening goal with a nice close range finish. The first half scoring was completed with further points from Leah Fox and Orlaith Kelly to give Manor a commanding 1-11 to 0-3 interval lead.
Manor opened the second half scoring with an Orlaith Kelly free but St Felim's refused to throw in the towel and deserve plenty of credit for their perseverance. Over the next 12 minutes they registered 1-3 with Eadoin Murphy scoring 1-2 and the impressive Laoise Moran King also registering a point.
The deficit was down to six and briefly it appeared as though a comeback was on the cards but Glencar/Manor showed plenty of self-belief and no little skill to regain control of the contest as they dominated the remainder of the game.
Three Orlaith Kelly points followed by a long range goal from Eadaoin Clancy effectively ended the game as a contest and Manor added to their tally with another Aoife Gilmartin point and in the closing stages Orlaith Kelly made absolutely sure of the result when she scored two goals in less than a minute to complete a very impressive victory.
Main Player: The key to success for Glencar/Manor was undoubtedly the strength of the collective unit rather than individual performances. Dearbhla Rooney, Leah Fox, Chloe Rooney and Muireann Devaney all impressed while the performance of St Felim's Ciara McGoldrick was also worthy of mention. Pipping them all was Glencar/Manor captain Orlaith Kelly who was at the heart of all her team's good work.
Talking Point: Having kept Muireann Devaney relatively quiet St Felim's would have been pleased with their overall showing but such is the strength of this Glencar/Manor team, it is very difficult to keep tabs on all their potent forwards.
Turning Point: St Felim's will rue an injury picked up by midfielder Emma McGovern in the closing stages of the first half. Her presence in the second half would certainly have strengthened their cause.
Ref Watch: A relatively quiet afternoon for TP McLoughlin who kept his cards in his pocket throughout and refereed with plenty of common sense.
Highlight: With an array of threats up front some of the Glencar/Manor attacks were of a very high standard and produced plenty of excitement for the large crowd.
Lowlight: The final scoreline does no favours to a St Felim's team who were much more competitive than the margin of victory would indicate.
Scorers: Orlaith Kelly 2-7 (4f); Muireann Devaney, Eadoin Clancy 1-1 each; Dearbhla Rooney 0-3 (1f); Leah Fox, Aoife Gilmartin 0-2 each.
Team: Alva Sheridan, Tara McLaughlin, Aisling Faulkner, Kate Johnston, Laoise Clancy, Hannah Johnston, Emma McLaughlin, Eadaoin Clancy, Aoife Gilmartin, Orlaith Kelly, Dearbhla Rooney, Chloe Rooney, Muireann Devaney, Dearbhla McManus, Leah Fox.
Scores: Eadaoin Murphy 1-2 (2f), Emma McGovern 0-2 (1f), Maeve Hamill, Laoise Moran King (0-1 each).
Team: Juliette Lockhart, Grainne Prior, Kiera Masterson, Grace Wrynn, Laoise Moran King, Abbi Sweeney, Mollie Murphy, Maeve Hamill, Emma McGovern, Genevieve Canning, Ciara McGoldrick, Sinead O'Neill, Megan McGovern, Megan O'Rourke, Aoife McCartinn. Subs: Eadaoin Murphy for E. McGovern (28), Emma Honeyman for Prior (37), Michaela Harte for McCartin (54)
Referee: TP McLoughlin