Southside holders blitzed by Northside counterparts in showpiece final.
Fantastic crowd, floodlit pitch, the two best teams in the county. Ballyboden St Endas V Na Fianna. What more could you ask for on Wednesday evening in Parnell Park? Maybe some better weather conditions, but that it must be said was all that was lacking during the Senior Ladies annual blue ribbon event. A North – South divide was added into the mix to make this final a little bit tastier. The magnificent singing of Ámhrán na bhFiann by young Ballyboden St Enda’s representative Hannah Conway topped it all off.
The first 20 minutes of this encounter may not have represented all suggested above as both sides took their time to get into their stride with surrendering of possession and lack of chance creation occurring at the beginning. Although as in a pressurised situation such as a final, nerves were more than likely the reason. However the lacklustre beginning did not affect Ballyboden as much as their opponents as the Southsiders cruised into a 3 point lead after Na Fianna’s early score. Yet with 20 minutes gone, the expectant crowd did not see one point from play, an astounding statistic in such a high calibre game. As I jotted this occurrence down on my notepad, the floodgates opened, the heavens opened and we finally had a final worth watching!
24 minutes had passed and Na Fianna seemed to realise where they were, who they were playing and how the stage was set for them. Driven on by midfielder Ciara McDermott and superb free taker and Dublin representative Mary Nevin, they never looked back, scoring 1:04 in the last six minutes of the first half. Ballyboden St Endas were dumbstruck and left the field at half time with their tails between their legs and four points adrift of the challengers to their crown. Could manager Ryan Casey in his first year in charge propel them to glory and keep the winning mentality of these giants of ladies football? We were about to find out.
Utter elation literally seconds into the second half for the Northsiders, a goal scored by Laura Walsh provides a seven point cushion as the alarm bells start ringing around the Ballyboden St Endas management team. A test of both sides championship credentials were about to be conveyed to all in the coming 30 minutes.
The Boden, as all champions do, replied to this deficit and with two points and lovely piece of interchanging play that resulted in Ciara Ruddy banging in a goal to bring the Southsiders to within 2 points. It was surely game on now?
And just as the crowds neutrals began to get excited, the somewhat hungrier Na Fianna responded magnificently with four unanswered points and then to the horror of Boden supporters players and staff , a goal that will not be easily forgotten by goalkeeper Sarah O’Brien.
With Claire O’Hare picking up the ball around the 45, she lofted a ball high into the rainy skies in the hope of a point only for it to fortunately drop under the bar and into the net. A howler by all accounts that more or less ended this final as a contest. If that wasn’t to be believed it soon would be with another two unanswered points from Mary Nevin and Ciara McDermott and a delightful passing display to put Laura Walsh thru to expertly put away her 2nd goal of the game!
Credit to the Champions, they kept working, kept fighting, kept harrying and with a goal and a couple of points, the margin was reduced to ten points by the final whistle. Na Fianna were too good for them and it was Northside who prevailed this time around.
The passing accuracy of the Na Fianna and their ability to find teammates seemed to be the difference on the night as they lost possession at a much lesser rate than their opponents. The newly crowned champions won more in midfield and took advantage of almost every free they were awarded thanks to Mary Nevin who scored 6 points in total. However when analysing this game, one must not forget the incredible last 5 minutes of the first half, where Ballybodens dominance was turned on its head. The confidence of these young girls were shattered and Na Fianna duly thrived on this.
They certainly smelled blood and tool the game to their opponents, knowing that they were frail mentally.
To cap it all off the Na Fianna Ladies are fantastic, deserved new champions, and a team with potential to achieve even more than this Dublin Senior Championship crown. They have a great desire for success and hopefully will keep it up and not rest on their laurels. The final scoreline of 4:12 – 2:08 may have been a tad flattering but they were nonetheless rightful winners.
Ballyboden on the other hand will need to go back to the drawing board, yet we all know they will be back and challenging next season – they always do! A largely young team, will definitely be told they have many more years to make up for what can only be seen as a torrid night for this side, and to get this far is a great achievement in itself.
Player of the Match: Ciara McDermott was the engine for Na Fianna and much of the play and passing was influenced by her. The 26 year old dictated the pace of the play and how her side went about getting scores, she worked tirelessly defensively also, which helped prevent her opponents ever building up a head of steam.
SCORERS – Na Fianna: L Walsh 2-0, M Nevin 0-6 (0-5f), N Stapleton 1-1, C O’Hara 1-0, N Doherty 0-3, C McDermott 0-2. Ballyboden St Enda’s: S Denvir 1-1, M McGrath 0-4 (0-3f), C Ruddy 1-0, E McGrath, E Drury, T Molohan (0-1f) 0-1 each.
NA FIANNA – S Turnbull; E Cassidy, L O’Sullivan, D Cassidy; S Quinn, B O’Donnell, C O’Hara; A O’Donnell, C McDermott; M Nevin, N Doherty, L Walsh; B Finlay, A Brien, R Grogan. Subs: N Stapleton for Brien (26); L Collins for D Cassidy (39); A Nolan for Grogan (45).
BALLYBODEN ST ENDA’S – S O’Brien; R Nugent, A Farrelly, E Walsh; M Fitzgerald, G O’Malley, J Ward; J O’Sullivan, G Fay; T Molohan, C Ruddy, C King; E Drury, E McGrath, M McGrath. Subs: S Denvir for Fitzgerald (ht); A O’Brien for Molohan (ht); A Clarke for Walsh (56); R Ryan for E McGrath (56).
REF – D McKittrick (Fingallians)
Report by: Ryan Nugent.
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