Cavan Ladies SFC: Lurgan ladies re-claim title

Cavan Ladies SFC: Lurgan ladies re-claim title

Lurgan 2-12
Knockbride 2-7

A bravura display of true grit, cohesion and conviction saw Lurgan ladies re-claim the county senior football championship title at Lavey on Saturday afternoon last.
The Virginia-based side produced a sleeves-rolled-up display to get the better of a fired-up Knockbride side who competed with demonic fervour throughout but ultimately had to tip the forelock to superior opponents.
And, doubtless, it was seven-up all round for the winners at their post-match celebrations as Claragh O’Reilly’s seven converted frees proved pivotal in deciding the issue.
There were, of course, other contributing factors which contributed to Lurgan’s first blue riband title triumph since 2008.
For one, Grace Reilly’s receipt of a yellow card two minutes from the interval left Knockbride having to play a game of containment which went against their natural style of play while also easing Lurgan onto the frontfoot.
Secondly, Nicola O’Dwyer’s sumptous goal – scored while the aforementioned Reilly was in the sin-bin – made for a double whammy in the space of six minutes that Knockbride never really recovered from.
Lurgan led by the odd point in three when the first goal chance of a string of goal chances coloured proceedings.
A teasing lob forward inside the Knockbride 21 by top-scorer O’Reilly was latched onto by Cerys Clowes but in pulling the trigger, soccer style, she was tackled and defender Denise Smith was left to scramble the ball off the Knockbride goal-line as referee Smith waved away Lurgan’s vociferous penalty claims.
Two minutes later, Lurgan had no such let-off as Knockbride’s most influential player, Aisling Traynor shrugged off three tackles before expertly planting the ball, on the run, with the outside of her foot into the side-netting past Lurgan ‘keeper Clare Foley.
Traynor’s major catapulted her side into a 1-1 to 0-2 lead but by the 19th minute, Lurgan had regained a lead (0-5 to 1-1) that they were never subsequently to lose.
Knockbride are a team full of teeming talent and they always threatened to spring a get-out-of-jail card.
Tina O’Reilly seemed set to notch Knockbride’s second goal in the 21st minute but after Emma Scanlon and Amy Rooney set her up, the Knockbride number 10 fly-kicked the ball inches the wrong side of the joint of post and crossbar.
Then in the 38th minute, Emma Scanlon ghosted in behind the Lurgan defence but her shot ‘cum cross traversed the Lurgan square but there were no takers.
In what was a swashbuckling, helter-skelter encounter, both teams were more about the collective rather than the individual.
That said, there were a number of stand-out individual displays which liberally laced what was a fine advertisement for ladies football in the county.
Knockbride’s will was bent at times but never broken and while Lurgan were worthy champions, Knockbride showed that they still retain a massive hunger to get back to the top table.
Lurgan were 1-8 to 1-3 in front by the time the sin-binned Reilly was able to make her return to the fray.
Knockbride’s revivalist zeal never waned but but once Vanessa Brady goaled to make it a nine point game in the 40th minute, an air of inevitability began to waft its way over the atmospheric Lavey ground.
Knockbride tried desperately to transform their funeral into an evening of celebration but Claragh O’Reilly’s frees saw the life drain away from them as the game wore on.
In tandem with the script, Lurgan were made to fight all the way though with the hitherto quiet Elaine O’Connor began to finally get some dividend from her intriguing personal battle with excellent Lurgan defender Anne Hanratty Lynch.
Knockbride’s search for redemption seemed to be blundering down a cul-de-sac though until Aisling Traynor’s floated free from all of 38 metres sailed all the way to the Lurgan net with 11 minutes left to play.
Two minutes later Aggie Clarke got her first point of the game for Knockbride and suddenly Lurgan’s lead was a nervy 2-9 to 2-6.
With seven minutes left to play Aisling Traynor attempted to put team-mate O’Connor in on goal but Hanratty Lynch pounced to intercept.
Knockbride nipped away at their opponents’ ankles ’till the death but, like all teams who aspire to greatness, Lurgan not only refused to yield but finished the stronger with precise efforts from O’Reilly and Vanessa Brady.Lurgan:
Clare Foley; Emma McDermott, Laura Hanratty, Eimear Gilsenan; Eleanor Ormiston, Anne Hanratty Lynch (0-1), Fiona Murphy; Nicola O’Dwyer (1-0), Siobhan O’Reilly; Niamh Daly, Cerys Clowes, Ciara Farrell; Vanessa Brady (1-1), Claragh O’Reilly (0-7, all frees), Julie Cahill (0-2).
Subs; Fiona Skelly (0-1) for C Clowes; Philly McDermott for J Cahill.
Maria Dolan; Pamela Keaskin, Grace Reilly, Nicole Clarke; Denise Smith, Lisa McCabe, Chelsi Curran; Aggie Clarke (0-1), Aisling Traynor (2-3, four frees); Tina O’Reilly, Elaine O’Connor (0-2), Aisling O’Reilly; Daena Clerkin, Amy Rooney, Emma Scanlon (0-1).
Sub; Stephanie Rahill for D Smith.
Ref; Packie Smith (Killygarry)

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