St. Joseph's captains Elaine McGovern & Aine Heslin receive the Cup from Leitrim Ladies Board Chairperson Siobhan Ballantine. Photo by Willie Donnellan
After losing finals twice at the hands of Dromahair in the past six years, St. Joseph’s lifted their first Leitrim Ladies Senior Championship title since 2012 with a hard fought victory in Dromod last Saturday.
ST. JOSEPH'S 0-11 DROMAHAIR 0-9
The victory is a long overdue reward for a St. Joseph’s team who have been a model of consistency over the years as they contested their eighth Final in nine years with only one victory to show for it.
And after snatching a last gasp draw in the drawn game, the Aughavas & Carrigallen combination made no mistake at the second time of asking with Bronagh O’Rourke the key scorer for the new champions with six points.
Player of the Match went to St. Joseph’s full-back Louise Maguire as it was the resilience and defensive work of the new champions that ensured they won the title as much as anything else.
Dromahair will have regrets and the sin-binning of Leitrim star Anna Conlan had a huge impact, coming at a time that Sinead Fowley was temporarily forced from the game while they also lost the outstanding Emer Clancy to injury.
Dromahair will know that they also missed some glorious chances, Conlan pulling one chance wide when through on goal and the greater reserve of fitness of St. Joseph’s was vital at the end of a second draining and punishing encounter.
Dromahair fielded a team that featured three players who all became mothers in the last year, a great testament to their dedication to the cause.
With a number of contentious decisions, referee Jimmy Stenson didn’t have an easy day with 55 frees over the game to give some indication of what a tough game it was to referee as neither team backed down an inch from the challenge.
Both teams had huge support from the sideline in Dromod as Bornacoola GAA Club’s pitch stood up exceptionally well considering the rainfall in the previous days.
Dromahair had the better of the early exchanges and went into a two point lead thanks to points from Mairead McMorrow and Mary Farrell inside 60 seconds by the fifth minute. But St. Joseph’s hit back with a free from Bronagh O’Rourke, who would go on to be the game’s top scorer, a minute later.
Leitrim player Carmel McGovern then fired over for St. Joseph’s on the seventh minute but Dromahair hit back with a point from Anna Conlan on eight minutes and the Leitrim star added another free restored the two point advantage.
Bronagh O’Rourke swept over another free on 12 minutes but the game was developing into a tit for tat exchanges as Sinead Fowley and Emer Clancy were on target for Dromahair but each time they stretched their lead, St. Joseph’s and Bronagh O’Rourke would reel them in with frees and one from play three minutes before halftime.
Carmel McGovern tied the scores up 30 seconds later and after Dromahair having the better of the exchanges in the first half, an injury time free from O’Rourke, another of St. Joseph’s legion of County stars, fired over a free to give them a 0-7 to 0-6 halftime lead.
The north Leitrim side may have been dominating the general play but there was never more than two points between the teams while the running game favoured by both teams was hampered by a physical encounter, a lot of fouls were committed while Dromahair hit six wides and St. Joseph’s four during the first half.
It wasn’t all good news, however, for St. Joseph’s as Michelle Heslin received a yellow card on the stroke of halftime and would spend 10 minutes in the sin-bin but Dromahair didn’t get the scores they would have hoped during Heslin’s absence.
Despite the sin-binning of her sister, Aine Heslin stretched St. Joseph’s lead to two points just 22 seconds in the second half but Dromahair were not about to surrender the title and they fought back with two points inside the first three minutes, Roisin Fowley on target before Anna Conlan fired over another free to tie the scores.
St. Joseph’s got a huge boost with the return of Michelle Heslin after her sin-bin spell elapsed and then Deirdre Moran restored the lead. They thought they had a goal only for it to be chalked off after the keeper was bundled over the line on 12 minutes.
The game’s major turning point came 15 minutes into the second half when Dromahair’s Anna Conlan was sin-binned but it soon turned into a triple whammy as the north Leitrim women lost both Sinead Fowley and Emer Clancy to injury, Clancy suffering a serious injury that saw her taken to hospital after a heavy collision with St. Joseph’s Aine Heslin.
Niamh McInerney came on for Clancy but in a match that featured a number of heavy challenges, Dromahair felt St. Joseph’s Deirdre Moran was lucky to avoid a card for a tackle with nine minutes left.
Louise Maguire put St. Joseph’s into a two point lead on 25 minutes before Bronagh O’Rourke stretched the lead to a goal with a point in added time. With Anna Conlan back on the field, Roisin Fowley pulled back a point but it wasn’t enough for the Dromahair women to deny St. Joseph’s the title.
Scorers: Bronagh O’Rourke 0-6, 5f; Carmel McGovern 0-2; Louise Maguire, Aine Heslin & Deirdre Moran 0-1 each
Team: Phillippa Maguire, Elaine McGovern, Louise Maguire, Vanessa Gallogly, Lorraine Moran, Fionnuala Bohan, Grainne O’Malley, Aine Heslin, Michelle Heslin, Lisa McDermott, Clare Owens, Deirdre Moran, Bronagh O’Rourke, Megan O’Rourke, Carmel McGovern. Subs: Genevieve Canning for O’Malley
Scorers: Anna Conlan 0-3, 3f; Roisin Fowley 0-2; Mairead McMorrow, Mary Farrell, Emer Clancy & Sinead Fowley 0-1 each
Team: Mary Clancy, Geraldine Roche, Edel Fowley, Aine Vesey, Mairead McMorrow, Emer Clancy, Grainne Moyles, Ava Murray, Sinead Fowley, Edel Kelly, Anna Conlan, Dearbhla Moyles, Erin Farrell, Mary Farrell, Roisin Fowley. Subs: Niamh McInerney for E. Clancy
Referee: Jimmy Stenson