Leah Fox scores a goal for Glencar/Manor. Photo by Willie Donnellan
There's no shame in losing to a better team and unfortunately, an impressive Glencar/Manorhamilton came up against a Corofin side just that little bit more impressive.
Saturday's Connacht Minor Ladies Club Final was the second year in a row that these teams have met and while this meeting was a much more competitive contest in the Connacht Centre of Excellence in Bekan, Corofin's greater strength and class eventually told it's tale.
Glencar/Manor really put it up to the Galway team and challenged them in ways they probably hadn't been all year but down the spine of their team, Corofin had players who dominated and caused Glencar/ Manor real problems.
It wasn't that Glencar/ Manor were without class - Leah Fox showed a real poachers instinct, Orlaith Kelly was like a human dynamo and really played a captain's part while the class of Player of the Match Muireann Devaney was obvious any time she got the ball.
In defence, Mary Broughton and Mairead Clancy stood out but the Galway girls seemed to get their scores a little bit easier and the Leitrim champions were undoubtedly helped by a 17 minute period that saw two Corofin players sin-binned.
Yet during that extended period either side of halftime, the Galway side still managed to outscore the Leitrim champions by a point and when the teams were both at full-strength, Corofin just had that extra bit of know-how.
Yet the improvement in Glencar/Manor in the past year is undeniable and depending on how many players they lose to overage status in the next year or two, you can easily see Neil Faulkner's team lifting this title in the future, their potent mix of athleticism, skill and determination undeniable.
Glencar/Manor almost got off to the perfect start when a good Muireann Devaney run saw her find Leah Fox in space but she shot narrowly wide. Corofin started to show their class when Leanne Coen’s run was rewarded with a point.
Devaney put a free wide and Corofin’s Sarah Hughes was denied a certain goal by a last gasp block at the expense of a fifty but Aoife Coen tapped over after the fifty was played short to Leanne Coen.
Orlaith Kelly pulled back a point after a foul on Fox but then had a couple of missed chances while an attempted short Manor fifty backfired as Corofin moved the ball the length of the field and Amy O’Donovan fired over.
Glencar/Manor suffered a loss when Eadaoin Clancy had to depart the action with an asthma attack before Leah Fox swapped points with Leanne Cox. Another Kelly free then cut the gap to a point with ten minutes left in the half.
Leanne Coen was denied a goal by a vital block but quickly added a Corofin point as did Louise Reilly. Two Kelly frees, the first after a yellow card for Corofin’s Orla Canney that may have influenced by a vociferous reaction from the Manor fans on the sideline, cut the gap back to a point.
But Corofin showed class in added time - Leanne Coen fired over a free before Laura McTigue robbed the ball, soloed in and fed Amy O’Donovan who produced a great finish for the game’s first goal.
Orla Kelly put over a good point from play before Corofin suffered another blow, a yellow card for Katie Quigley for a high and heavy foul on Devaney, to leave them down to 13 players for the three minutes before halftime. Unfortunately, Kelly’s free was held by the keeper and Corofin led 1-7 to 0-6 at the break.
Incredibly, just 35 seconds after the restart, Amy O’Donovan had the ball back in the Manor net thanks to good instincts as Louise Reilly’s high arching shot hit the woodwork and fell right into the full-forward’s hands.
Credit Glencar/Manor for their impressive response - there seemed little danger as Corofin packed their defence but Manor were patient and eventually found an opening for Leah Fox who showed killer instincts to fire home from close range.
Two Devaney frees but the gap to two points but just as the time was ending for the second yellow card, Laura McTigue pointed after a block on team-mate Sarah Hughes stopped another Corofin goal chance.
Back at full-strength, Corofin started to stamp their class on the game and three points from Leanne Coen (2) and Reilly suddenly had their six points clear.
But out of nowhere and in a typically barnstorming run, Muireann Devaney got possession 50 yards out, soloed in and fired powerfully to the net to leave just three points between the teams with a quarter of the game to go.
Devaney saw a shot blocked but Corofin were still bossing the game in the middle of the park and when Leanne Coen’s high free into the area wasn’t gathered, Amy O’Donovan grabbed the loose ball and was tripped, accidentally it must be said, but a trip nonetheless.
Leanne Coen took the spot-kick which just had too much power for keeper Alva Sheridan to stretch the lead to nine points. Orlaith Kelly saw a shot blocked and Eadaoin Clancy shot wide before Corofin pounced on a poor clearance, the impressive Amy Coen intercepting and freeing Leanne Coen for an easy goal.
That killed the game and the spark very much went from the contest with Reilly and Devaney swapping points as did McTigue and Leah Fox.
Deep in injury time, Dearbhla Rooney had a chance but saw the shot blocked. However, referee Francie Keane awarded a penalty for a pull but Muireann Devaney’s effort was easy for the Corofin keeper to save and clear.
GAME AT A GLANCE
Main Woman: Orlaith Kelly really led the fight for Glencar/Manor while there were also good spells for Muireann Devaney and Leah Fox. Mary Broughton and Mairead Clancy also stood out. For Corofin, the impressive Leanne Coen, Amy and Aoife Coen in midfield and Amy O'Donovan proved the winning of the game.
Talking Point: Glencar/Manorhamilton are getting closer to the Galway side but struggled to match the class down the middle of Corofin.
Turning Point: Two Amy O'Donovan goals either side of halftime were huge for Corofin, particularly as the Galway girls were down two players with yellow cards for 17 minutes. Corofin actually outscored Glencar/Manor in a huge blow for the underdogs.
Ref Watch: Roscommon referee Francie Keane enraged the Corofin management with his yellow card decisions. One did appear influenced by the reaction of the crowd, the other a definite yellow but there were a few controversial decisions both sides were unhappy with.
Highlight: Muireann Devaney scored one fabulous individual goal but Leah Fox's cool finish after halftime after a great team move was undoubtedly the highlight.
Lowlight: Two teams playing in a Connacht Final having to toss a coin to see which team had to play with their jerseys inside out - hard to believe that this is still happening in this day and age.
TEAMS & SCORERS
Scorers: Muireann Devaney 1-3, 3f; Orlaith Kelly 0-5, 4f; Leah Fox 1-2
Team: Alva Sheridan, Aisling Faulkner, Hannah Johnston, Mairead Clancy, Aoife Gallagher, Mary Broughton, Laoise Clancy, Aoife Gilmartin, Eadaoin Clancy, Orlaith Kelly, Dearbhla Rooney, Chloe Rooney, Dervla McManus, Muireann Devaney, Leah Fox. Subs: Teresa Rooney for E. Clancy (13), E. Clancy for T. Rooney (HT), Kate Johnston for McManus (51)
Scorers: Leanne Coen 2-7, 1 pen, 2f; Amy O’Donovan 2-1; Louise Reilly 0-3; Laura McTigue 0-2; Aoife Coen 0-1
Team: Karen Connolly, Louise Coen, Mary Newell, Hannah McHugh, Chloe Langan, Orla Canney, Katie Quigley, Amy Coen, Aoife Coen, Louise Reilly, Leanne Coen, Sarah Hughes, Rachel Burke, Amy O’Donovan, Laura McTigue. Subs: Aisling Greaney for Hughes (37), Amy McDonagh, Maeve Lawless & Hannah Hession for McTigue, McHugh & Louise Coen (63)
Referee: Francie Keane (Roscommon)