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Carryduff ladies made to battle to the end to secure their ‘Three in a Row’

It was Carryduff v Castlewellan in the County U-16 ‘A’ final played at Saul on Sunday.

This contest turned out to be a real thriller with the large travelling support on both sides kept in suspense until the final whistle.

The Carryduff ladies playing with a strong wind started briskly launching a long ball into the Castlewellan zone. This was collected by Jessica Foy and drove to the net. This was quickly followed up with a point from the boot of Fiona McCauley.

Th e Castlewellan team settled and replied with a point and a well worked goal of their own. This was to set the pattern for the rest of the game with both sides trading scores.

The Carryduff back line was well marshalled by Megan Doherty who was well supported by Niamh Lenaghan and in her first year at Gaelic football , Catherine Poole. Megan Connery was impressing on the half back line along with strong displays also coming in from Amy Lavery and Orla McKay.

Castlewellan attacked in numbers and continually broke through with good interpassing. Carryduff’s young goalie Rachel Cassidy had an outstanding game and kept Carryduff in it at this stage with two courageous ‘one on one’ blocks.

Inspirational Captain Ciara Crosby drove her team on by example, attacking down the centre and firing home a goal and a point in this half. Aine Kerr and Emily Hewitt combined well up front with Emily getting the final point of this half.

Half time score Carryduff 2-3 Castlewellan 1-4

Carryduff opened the second half in determined fashion with Emily Duffy, Niamh Hughes and Siobhan Cunningham all fighting for every ball and winning the turnover battles.

For Carryduff Emily Hewitt got her second point and the ‘Duff’ girls further stretched their lead with another Jessica Foy point. Carryduff were then reduced to fourteen when Jessica got a yellow card. The Carryduff girls upped their work-rate and were rewarded with a Fiona McCauley point.

Midway through this half making use of the strong breeze the Castlewellan ladies started to dominate. They chipped away at the Carryduff lead by taking long range points and gradually edged one point in front. Carryduff’s Rachael Cassidy was again called upon to execute top class saves to keep her team in contention.

Carryduff made changes with Megan Murtagh getting into the action.

The closing minutes of this final saw a hectic drama unfold with four goals being scored. The first came when the besiged Carryduff defense with backs to the wall conceded a penalty. This was expertly driven home to the corner of the net giving the Carryduff goalie no chance. Four points down and with the game in the dying minutes, Carryduff’s dream of ‘three in a row’ looked all but over.

The Castlewellan team and support were still celebrating when the Carryduff ladies coolly collected themselves worked the ball downfield to find the experienced Fiona McCauley who jinked her way through the Castlewellan defence and sent a pile driver to the net. The Carryduff ladies now fired everything at Castlewellan and from the kickout this sustained pressure resulted in a free.
Carryduff’s young ace Jessica Foy slotted between the posts to level the match, now putting the Carryduff support into fever pitch.

Castlewellan were unable to get the ball out of their own half and with the ‘Duff’ ladies now on fire two more goals followed. The excellent Fiona McCauley got the first putting the Carryduff ladies back in the lead and from the resulting kickout Jessica Foy collected a good pass, soloed through and put the last kick of the game in the Castlewellan net.

Speaking before the presentations Ladies County Chairman , Frank McMullan said that the game was a classic to watch and that the standard of play by both teams boded well for the future of Down Ladies football.

Carryduff Captain Ciara Crosby received the trophy, thanked the referee Conn Renolds, Saul for use of their pitch and praised the Castlewellan girls for the hard game the gave them.

The winning teams managers and mentors Tommy McCauley, Martin McCann and Liz Magowan were delighted for this group of players having taken them through and won championships at all the juvenile levels.

Final Score Carryduff 5-7 Castlewellan 2-10

Carryduff panel – Rachel McCabe, Niamh Lenaghan, Megan Doherty, Catherine Poole, Megan Connery, Amy Lavery, Orla McKay, Fiona McCauley, Emily Duffy, Niamh Hughes, Ciara Crosby, Siobhan Cunningham, Jessica Foy, Aine Kerr, Emily Hewitt, Megan Murtagh, Catriona Hynes, Sinead Farquarson, Claire McNight, Aoife McCrory, Clodagh Coil, Emear Rooney, Grace Vergin.

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