An intriguing and enthralling Connacht Ladies Schools U-14 B Final that went all the way to extra-time eventually saw the greater scoring power of Ballinamore Post Primary School carry them to victory over Carrick-on-Shannon Community School last Thursday in Dromod.
Ballinamore 6-16 Carrick 9-4
An incredible display of goal scoring on the break kept Carrick in the game against a Ballinamore side who possessed great strength down the middle of the field and displayed a range of scoring ability that Carrick just couldn’t match.
It was a game where attacks dominated, strong running through the centre yielding goals galore but despite Carrick’s immensely brave effort that saw them never refusing to lie down, Ballinamore’s calmness and strength deservedly carried them to the win.
Eilish O’Dowd received the Player of the Match award but got amazing support from Aileen Maguire, Roisin McHugh, Rebecca Rowley, Keely Doonan and Carla Le Guen, who bagged an amazing 2-6 on the day.
And when the pressure was on in the second half and extra-time, McHugh and Le Guen in particular stood out, driving their team on with Le Guen driving through for scores and McHugh cleaning up all around her in the middle of the field.
Carrick had a lot of impressive finishers and their spirit was excellent – Lauren Sharkey, Katie Daly, Aine O’Dowd and Katie Foley looked dangerous every time they got the ball while Tess Murtagh found a great battle against Aileen Maguire.
It was a game that kept the sizeable support more than happy and while it was tough there had to be a loser, it was nevertheless a great advertisement for the game.
In a nervy opening 20 minutes, and one that gave little indication of what was to follow, saw Ballinamore edge the scoring with Aileen Maguire (2), Eilish O’Dowd & Carla Le Guen pointing in response to two from Katie Daly while Ballinamore keeper tipped a shot from Aisling Burke onto the bar.
But then the goals started to flow – Lauren Sharkey pounced first for Carrick but Aileen Maguire finished brilliantly under pressure at the far end. Ballinamore started to pull further ahead with points from Roisin McHugh and Le Guen and a goal from O’Dowd.
Carrick kept in touch with a Katie Foley goal on the break but Le Guen drilled home a goal in response as Ballinamore looked in control but as the game entered added time, Carrick struck for goals from Daly and Sharkey to leave the score at 3-7 to 4-2 in favour of Carrick.
Those goals transformed Carrick’s team-talk but it was Ballinamore who started with a Le Guen points but points from Aine O’Dowd and Sharkey was followed by a great move and goal from Aine O’Dowd on the break.
Back came Ballinamore with points from O’Dowd and Rebecca Rowley while Carrick keeper Sarah Surlis made a save from Aileen Maguire. The Ballinamore full-forward also had what looked like a good point waved wide but another Rowley free put Ballinamore back in front with 11 minutes to go.
Again Carrick showed great resilience but hitting back with Aine O’Dowd and Sharkey setting up Katie Foley for a sixth Carrick goal with less than six minutes to go. And again Ballinamore responded, Le Guen converting a free, sub Grace McBarron drilling home a goal and Aileen Maguire pointing to put Ballinamore three clear.
But with the game entering added time, Carrick struck again, Aine O’Dowd notching her second goal of the half to tie the scores. Ballinamore had a chance to win the game with a late free in front of the posts but with nobody wanting to take it, Carla Le Guen’s free hit the crossbar and rebounded clear.
Ballinamore completed dominated the first period of extra time and Carla Le Guen in particular as she scored 1-2 and Leighanne Flynn drilled the ball to the Carrick net to put Ballinamore eight points clear.
Aileen Maguire, who had a shot saved by Surlis, pointed to put a rampant Ballinamore nine clear and O’Dowd hit the Carrick post but true to form, Carrick weren’t finished, Dara Morahan burst through to goal and a long ball Shauna Burke saw her goal midway through the period.
Both teams had late chances, Aileen Maguire shooting wide across the goal but Ballinamore held on comfortably for a hard earned win.