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Ballinamore produce epic comeback to force draw

produce epic comeback to force draw


Pat the Baker Connacht Ladies Schools Junior “C” Championship

Ballinamore PPS 1-6, Mount St. Michael’s 2-3 By Philip Rooney

Having looked like they were heading for defeat with ten
minutes of last Wednesday’s Pat the Baker Connacht Ladies
Schools Junior “C” Championship Final remaining, Ballinamore
Post Primary Schools left the pitch feeling as though they
should have emerged victorious on the day.

A draw was ultimately a fair result – entering the final
stages, Ballinamore trailed by five points before completing
their heroic comeback and took the lead on the verge of
full-time. Unfortunately for Ballinamore, Claremorris equalised
five minutes into injury time and forced a replay, which
will take place Wednesday. The game began with Ballinamore
playing into a strong wind but points from Ciara McLoughlin
and Clare Plunkett enabled the Leitrim side open up a two
point lead after 16 minutes of action. Claremorris, despite
trailing were arguably the better side in the opening stages.
However, wayward shooting and excellent Ballinamore defending
prevented Mount St Michael from opening their account. Their
opening score, when it did come, had a large element of
good fortune surrounding it. Laura Kelly found herself in
space and and struck for goal. Her effort appeared to be
weakly hit and it didn’t look as though it would cause too
many problems for Sarah Quinn in the Ballinamore goal. However,
the ball bounced awkwardly in front of Quinn. The unfortunate
bounce hampered the goalkeeper significantly and the ball
crossed the line for Claremorris’ opening score of the game
after 21 minutes.

As Claremorris became more dominant, Ballinamore’s influential
midfielder Clare Plunkett was drafted into defence. While
this moved helped stem the flow of attacks from the Mayo
outfit, it also hampered the Leitrim school’s prowess in
terms of an attacking force. With only a point between the
sides at half-time (0-2 to 1-0), there was plenty for the
Ballinamore ladies to be optimistic about. While the wind
wasn’t as strong as it had been in the opening half, when
it did pick up it was favouring Ballinamore.

Both teams exchanged points in the opening five minutes
of the second half. Rebecca Kearns’ point for Claremorris
was cancelled out by a fine effort from Sheila Walshe. With
the game delicately poised, disaster struck for Ballinamore
as Claremorris found the net for the second time. Aoife
Higgins fired in a low shot which took a deflection off
a defender. Sarah Quinn was once again left stranded and
helpless to prevent the ball finding its way to the Ballinamore
net. A further point from Claremorris’ Laura Kelly saw Ballinamore
facing a five point deficit with time running out. Ballinamore’s
hopes of getting back into the game seemed to receive a
further blow when Clare Plunkett went down injured and needed
to receive treatment. Whether in midfield or defence, Plunkett’s
performance was exceptional and she was instrumental in
the fightback that the ensued in the final ten minutes of
the game. Fortunately for Ballinamore, Plunkett was able
to carry and proved to have a considerable impact on the
outcome of the game. With 11 minutes remaining, referee
Vivian Hardiman awarded a free to Ballinamore which was
duly slotted over the bar by Plunkett. A minute later, Plunkett
embarked on a run covering half the length of the pitch.
She exchanged passes with Catherine Holohan before completing
the move herself with an excellent point. With momentum
growing strongly in Ballinamore’s favour, several goal opportunities
were spurned before Clare Plunkett stood over a free 20
yards out from goal. Her shot was aimed low and hard into
the left corner of the net, levelling the contest.

With the game just heading into injury time, Ballinamore
took the lead when Sheila Walshe scored from a free. Having
been forced to defend deep in their own half for over ten
minutes, Claremorris surged forward in an attempt to salvage
a draw from a game they had earlier seemed destined to win.
Five minutes into injury time Laura Kelly scored from a
free to once again draw the teams level.

Ballinamore PPS: Sarah Quinn, Clare Fanning, Leanne McGrath,
Rachel Doonan, Lauren McGrory, Catherine Holohan, Katie
Duignan, Clare Plunkett (1-03), Gillian Leydon, Deborah
Gilheaney, Siobhan McCartin, Josephine Maguire, Ciara McLoughlin
(0-1), Sheila Walshe (0-2), Ciara O’Dowd. Subs: Roisin McTague
for Maguire (29 mins), Naomi Doonan for McTague (62 mins)

Mount St Michaels: Sarah Commons, Erika Haugh, Sarah Tierney,
Laura Sloyan, Elaine Commins, Caileen Meehan, Stephanie
Delaney, Edel Nolan, Aoife Hyland, Maeve Kerrigan, Laura
Kelly (1-2), Aoife Higgins (1-0), Rebecca Kearns (0-1),
Yvonne Sloyan, Rebecca Kean. Subs: Claire Walsh for Maeve
Kirrane (59mins), Deirdre Dolan for L. Sloyan (61 mins)

Ref: V. Hardiman (Roscommon)

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