St. Clare's captain Laura Fowley is presented with the Cup after the victory over Ursuline Sligo
Goals win games is a cliche as old as Gaelic football but St. Clare’s CS took it to new heights last week when they hit the net ten times to lift a second Connacht Ladies title in a row
Having won the Connacht D title last year, the Manorhamilton school made the step up to the C grade this year and didn’t disappoint, storming to the Connacht title against Sligo’s Ursuline College on Tuesday, March 6.
The Leitrim girls now face a St. Dominic's High School from the Falls Road Belfast in the Lidl All-Ireland Semi-Final in Clones next Friday, March 16, with a 12 noon throw-in.
The winners will face either Athlone Community College or St. Mary's High School Middleton in the final.
It has been commonly referred to as the best game of football seen for a long time, it was a game where goals were the currency for exchange St Clare’s proved too strong for their local rivals, Ursuline Sligo.
This was a rematch of the first league game of the year back in November when Ursuline ran riot against St Clare’s. Since then the girls have grown in stature, have played a lot of senior schools games and have brought that work ethic and experience to their own grade.
Essentially the same group who secured Connacht honours last year entered the final a little knowing that this was going to be their toughest challenge to date.
The game started at a frantic pace with both teams battling for that early start, both teams exchanged points with the Ursuline coming out on top in a leading of three points to two after 10 minutes.
The St Clare's defence was rocked then by an Ursuline goal which kicked off the power struggle. St Clare’s replied with three goals on the bounce after great work by Rachael & Emily Conlon who applied serious pressure on the oppositions kickout, Amy Fowley and Muireann Devaney applying the finishing touches to slide home the chances presented.
Ursuline replied with another couple of very good scores, two goals included, which left the halftime score at 5-6 to 4-4 in favour of the Sligo school.
St. Clare’s needed a good start to the second half and they got it. Leah Fox, one of St Clare’s outstanding performers, began to control the attacking play.
The St Clare’s no-nonsense defending from Emma McMorrow, Rachael McPartlin and Clodagh Magee gave them the platform to attacking half backs Sarah McGloin, Sarah Brady and Shauna Loughlin to push back the opposition.
St Clare’s converted 3-1 to the Ursuline’s 0-1 during this period which put them in control of the game. From then forward, St. Clare’s rarely let their hard work drop enough to give the Ursuline any chance of getting back into the game.
Emma McLoughlin, Alannah Moffitt, Mairead Clancy and Laura Fowley displayed their experience to close down the middle of the field and not allow the Ursuline to build any attacks for goals.
A thrilling finish was expected but was such the work ethic of the north Leitrim girls they finished the job in hand.
Panel members: Dervla McManus, Niamh Loughlin, Emma McGloin, Katie McManus, Hannah Johnston, Shauna Clinton, Cliodhna Boylan, Laoise Doherty, Joanne Fitzpatrick, Lisa Gilligan, Aoibhe McGrath, Kelly Gallagher.
The St. Clare's CS Manorhamilton team who contest the All-Ireland Semi-Final this Friday, March 16