After an exciting and close fought ‘McGowan’s Westlink Coaches’ Ladies Junior B Final in Drumshanbo on Sunday evening it was Glencar/Manorhamilton who emerged victorious but they were made to work hard for this victory against an Eslin side who will surely come back even stronger next year as a result of this experience.
Both sides enjoyed periods of dominance with Niamh and Siobhan Feely and Bronagh Rooney excelling for Glencar/Manorhamilton while Aine Gildea, Denise Stenson and Louise Bohan had fine games for Eslin.
The experience and cutting edge in the forward line was ultimately what separated the sides although Eslin goalkeeper Ciara Mulligan was another who had an outstanding game and some of her saves over the course of the game helped ensure her side were in contention until the very end.
The game began with Glencar/Manor bringing the game to their opponents straight from throw-in and after two early wides the pressure that was being applied took its toll as Niamh Feely struck for the game’s opening game as her shot from distance looped over the helpless Ciara Mulligan and under the crossbar for the game’s opening goal.
That score was soon followed by an Emma O’Hagan point as Eslin struggled to make an impact during the opening exchanges.
Having been over run from the start of the game, Eslin announced their presence in the final thanks to an excellent individual score from Aine Gildea who ran half the length of the pitch before dispatching her shot over the bar. Unfortunately for Eslin they were unable to build on that score as moments later Glencar/Manor were awarded a penalty when Emma O’Hagan was fouled.
Siobhan Feely took responsibility for the penalty but Ciara Mulligan proved up to the challenge as she made a fine save. Unfortunately for Eslin Mulligan was powerless to prevent Feely from dispatching the rebound to the net.
Although Eslin hit back within a minute with Denise Stenson’s free resulting in their second point of the game, Glencar/Manor were beginning to boss proceedings and they struck for their third goal of the game midway through the opening half. Niamh Feely found Emma O’Hagan who dispatched the ball past Ciara Mulligan.
While Glencar/Manor may have bossing matters at this stage a combination of good Eslin defending and poor Glencar/Manor shooting meant a Siobhan Feely point was the only addition to the scoreline as the game entered the final five minutes of the first half.
With half-time looming and trailing by nine points, Eslin nearly reignited their hopes when Louise Bohan attempted to lob Glencar/Manor goalkeeper Clare O’Brien but her effort went narrowly wide. That effort seemed to restore confidence into the Eslin players and moments later they struck for a goal that brought them back into contention. Denise Stenson, Cliodhna Reynolds and Louise Bohan were all involved in the build-up and when the ball fell to Lorraine McHugh, she forced it through a crowded goalmouth and into the Glencar/Manor goal.
The half finished with Orla McHugh and Cliodhna Reynolds exchanging points to give Glencar/Manor a 3-3 to 1-3 lead at the interval.
Eslin started the second half with renewed belief and with Denise Stenson driving the team forward from deep positions there was every reason to believe Eslin would still have a lot to say with regards to the final outcome of the game.
Stenson opened the second half scoring when she converted a free a minute after the restart and two minutes later she turned provider for Aine Gildea who pointed to leave just four between the sides.
Despite being on the back foot in the opening stages of the half Glencar/Manor refused to panic and hit back with points from Siobhan Feely and Orla McHugh.
The end to end nature of the game continued as Aine Gildea and Siobhan Feely exchanged points before Glencar/Manor’s hope of glory were dealt a blow as Niamh Feely was issued with a yellow card and forced to watch from the sidelines for 10 minutes.
Eslin seemed as though they were going to capitalise on their numerical advantage when Aisling McNabola’s shot found its was to the Glencar/Manor goal but they were unable to further capitalise on their advantage.
To their credit Glencar/Manor were very strong in defence in the final 10 minutes and with seven minutes remaining they scored the final point of the game when Niamh Feely converted a free moments after she returned to the action.
While Glencar/Manor were deserving winners, Eslin also deserve credit for the part they played in keenly contested final.
Clare O’Brien, Marie Clerkin, Arlene Williams, Roisin Rooney, Gemma Tiffoney, Aoife Kenny, Bronagh Rooney, Aisling Coyle, Siobhan Feely (1-3), Chloe Gilligan, Niamh Feely (1-1), Emma O’Hagan (1-1), Orla McHugh (0-2). Subs: Michelle McNulty for McHugh (53 mins), Rionnach Nealon for O’Hagan (58 mins).
Ciara Mulligan, Fiona Reynolds, Ciara Bohan, Aisling McNabola (1-0), Aoife McHugh, Bronagh Early, Aine Gildea (0-3), Niamh McHugh, Louise Bohan, Denise Stenson (0-3), Cliodhna Reynolds, Lorraine McHugh (1-0), Deirdre Reynolds.
Referee: Francis McGloin