Irish soccer star rushes home to help Galway girls

soccer star rushes home to help Galway girls
By Cliona Foley of The Irish Independent



schoolgirl Niamh Fahey will fly into Dublin at midnight tonight,
just half-way through a phenomenal seven-day sporting schedule
that would exhaust even the most athletic of men. The 17-year-old
dual star went to Estonia last Sunday where she has been lining
out in midfield for the Irish under 19 soccer team in this week’s
European Championship qualifying tournament. But she will miss
their crunch tie with Norway on Saturday because she has to rush
home to line out against Cork in the TG4 All-Ireland senior ladies
football final in Croke Park on Sunday.

Ireland trounced Estonia 7-0 on Tuesday and turn their attentions
to Latvia today. As soon as that match is over, Fahey will be
grabbing a flight home as she embarks on the second part of her
incredibly hectic sporting week. Such are the demands of her schedule
that Galway manager Richard Bowles has sensibly told her to stay
in Dublin and rest on her return to Ireland. Her teammates will
join her in the capital on Saturday, on the eve of their title
defence. And FAI sources revealed yesterday that Fahey’s soccer
boss, former senior international Sue Ronan, has lent a hand.
In her efforts to vary her training, she included a short game
of Gaelic football at the end of yesterday’s session, much to
the confusion of local Estonian onlookers.

Fahey is already established as one of the most talented young
sportswomen in the country, and as well as Gaelic football and
soccer, she also excels at basketball and won an All-Ireland U19
colleges title three years ago when still only 14. Even though
she is still only 17, the younger sister of Galway seniors Richie
and Gary Fahey, will line out at full-forward on Sunday and is
Galway’s most potent attacking threat.

However, she is not the only dual star on show on Sunday as the
Rebelettes – appearing in their first senior final – have five
players (Angela Walsh, Rena Buckley, Briege Corkery, Mary O’Connor
and Catriona Foley) chasing a unique All-Ireland women’s double,
having already won the senior camogie title two weeks ago. Cork
captain Juliet Murphy, a brilliant basketballer, also played for
Ireland before concentrating her energies on Gaelic football.
Their own attacking ace Valerie Mulcahy has recovered from an
ankle injury and has been named in the starting line-up. Her introduction
as a substitute was central to their sensational one-point win
over Mayo in the All-Ireland semi-final and she is restored to
right corner-forward, while the only other change sees Nollaig
Cleary start at wing-forward, with Geraldine O’Flynn in the other

Galway make one change in personnel from the side that beat Dublin,
with the more experienced Ann-Marie McDonagh taking over at left
corner-back from talented 16-year-old Claire Molloy who is being
kept in reserve on a star-studded bench. Whether their subs will
include Allstar midfielder Lisa Cohill depends on a late fitness
test. After spending all year regaining her fitness after cruciate
surgery, she sustained further damage when she came on as a sub
in the semi-final and remains a serious doubt.

Meanwhile, in the curtain-raiser, Armagh will be making their
first appearance in the junior final when they take on a Sligo
team who are bidding to make amends for the heartbreak of losing
last year’s final to Kildare. It might be a first for the Armagh
players, but All-Ireland finals are nothing new for their unusual
selectorial line-up. Their manager Hayley Boyle is a former Tyrone
All-Ireland finalist, as is Down-born selector Jacqui Clarke.
Their third selector, Lorraine McCaffrey, comes from Fermanagh.

Sligo have been weakened this year by the absence of Jackie Mulligan
who has gone to the US on a soccer scholarship. However, among
their new additions is the team’s only married player, half-back
Eithne Flanagan. She is a Leitrim native who has also played for
Cavan and, remarkably, lines out in an All-Ireland final just
12 months after having a baby.

GALWAY (SF v Cork) – U Carroll; M Glynn, R Stephens, AM
McDonagh; M O’Connell, A Daly (capt), E Flaherty; A Clarke, E
Concannon; G Conneely, N Duggan, P Ní Fhlatharta; R McPhilbin,
N Fahey, L Joyce.
CORK – E Harte; B Stack, A Walsh, R Buckley; B Corkery,
C Walsh, S O’Reilly; J Murphy (capt), N Kelly; A Murphy, R Curtin,
N Cleary; V Mulcahy, C Creedon, G O’Flynn.
ARMAGH (JFC v Sligo) – D Hagan; C Marley, F Quinn, O Murtagh;
N Smith, B O’Donnell, S McCleary; A O’Donnell, C O’Hanlon; M Moriarty,
S Duncan, M Tennyson; M McAlinden, A Matthews, P McEvoy.
SLIGO – K Connolly; R Goodwin, G O’Gara, F Maye; C Kennedy,
A Doohan, L Harte; B Byrne, S McTiernan; E Flanagan, S O’Reilly,
T Marren; H Haran, N Gormley, L Brett. Cliona Foley

article was kindly provided by Cliona Foley and The Irish Independent

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