Match Report Vhi Healthcare Munster Junior Club Final

Match Report Vhi Healthcare Munster Junior Club Final

Date: Sunday October 19th
Venue: Newcastle West, Co. Limerick.
Referee: Kieran Creed (Cork)

Kilmihil 2 – 8 Na Gaeil (Kerry) 2 – 7

This was a thrilling game of football from start to finish and made for compelling viewing for the large crowd in attendance. Two evenly matched teams gave their all for the cause and a tremendous battle, particularly in the second half, ensued. Kilmihil were deserving winners in the end if only for the true grit and determination they exhibited in fighting back from the body blows of two first half Kerry goals and also the very harsh sin-binning of their full back Yvonne Downes mid-way through the second half.

The game was played in an excellent spirit on a heavy pitch in Newcastle West where thankfully he rain stayed away for most of the game. Buoyed on by a huge travelling support Kilmihil got off to a very good start and were a point up after two minutes when Denise O’Halloran was on target with an excellent effort. Ailish Considine converted a close in free two minutes later to put the Kilmihil ladies two up. Kilmihil dominated affairs for the next ten minutes of so but were unfortunate on a number of occasions that the final pass went astray and the Kerry side were able to clear their lines.

Kilmihil were dealt a body blow however in the sixteenth minute when corner forward Sarah Cuningham was first to react to a breaking ball in the Kilmihil danger area and she coolly slotted a low shot to the net under the despairing body of goalkeeper Edel McMahon. This score roused the Kerry side and they began to dominate affairs and two minutes later their centre forward Eileen Sayers scored a fine point from distance. Kilmihil defended stoutly but were caught again in the twenty second minute when Sayers again fielded a high ball in the Kilmihil large parallelogram and drilled an unstoppable shot to the net. Na Gaeil were now 2-1 to 0-2 in front and Kilmihil looked in trouble.

In fairness to the West Clare side they rose to the challenge and Dympna Walsh, Úna Downes, Mairéad Nugent and Eimear Considine used all their skill and experience to help drag themselves back into the game. Nugent led the comeback charge with a great point on twenty five minutes and Ailish Considine narrowed the gap even further with a pointed free two minutes later. Rosie Currane then had an excellent chance when put through on goal but unfortunately for the buzzing wing forward her rising shot blazed narrowly wide. Still Kilmihil had ended the half on a high and with wind advantage to come in the second half the half time score of 2-1 to 0-4 was not an insurmountable lead to overturn. Although in arrears Kilmihil had played the better football in the first half and their defence in particular was coping well with the Kerry attack. The two goals scored were against the run of play and indeed Kilmihil had a genuine claim for a free out in the run up to the first goal when Collette Downes appeared to be pushed in the back when rising to collect the ball that eventually fell to scorer Cunningham.

Na Gaeil were first out of the starting blocks in the second half and their excellent wing forward Ciara O’Sullivan pointed within a minute. Kilmihil’s response was both swift and clinical. Over the next eight minutes they laid the foundation for their victory in scoring 2-2 to Na Gaeil 0-2. Eimear Considine was the main architect of Kilmihil’s comeback and started the scoring spree with an exquisite thirty second minute point. Her sister Ailish then converted a free three minutes later following a quick brace of points from Cunningham for Na Gaeil. In the thirty sixth minute things swung decidedly in Kilmihil’s favour when Eimear Considine sent a speculative lob into the Kerry danger area. Eimear Foley in the Kerry goal seemed to have things covered but the ball bounced awkwardly and somehow ended up in the left corner of the net. A huge roar of approval from the large Kilmihil support greeted this score and if their was a degree of luck to this goal their was nothing fortunate about Eimear’s second goal three minutes later. Considine fielded a high ball some thirty metres from goal and set off on a blistering solo run that left her markers clutching air and she finished with a sublime shot to the roof of the Kerry net to give Kilmihil a 2-6 to 2-4 advantage. A great battle was now developing and the exchanges were fast and furious with the action going from one end to the other.

Another twist in the tale of this thrilling game now ensued when referee Kieran Creed flashed a yellow card to Kilmihil fullback Yvonne Downes for a clumsy challenge on Kerry wing forward Ciara O’Sullivan. This was a very harsh decision by the Cork official as many other more serious challenges had gone unpunished especially a head high elbow charge on Kilmihil’s captain Fiona O’Neill. O’Sullivan pointed the resulting free for Na Gaeil to leave just a single point between the sides after forty five minutes. Reduced to fourteen players Kilmihil now had to dig deep and in fairness this is just what they did. They defended stoutly over the next ten minutes or so and while they did concede two points on fifty one and fifty two minutes they were right back in it when outstanding midfielder Dympna Walsh landed a mammoth point two minutes later.

Both sides threw caution to the wind at this stage but it was Kilmihil who were dominating affairs and looked the most likely to score. Two minutes from time Eimear Considine again took responsibility and outfoxed the Kerry defence to score what was to prove the winning point. The final two minutes seemed like an eternity but Kilmihil remained disciplined and were again attacking when referee Creed sounded the final whistle. There was prolonged cheering and applause from the packed stand as supporters showed their appreciation for what was a memorable game of football.

Well done to Kilmihil as they were truly deserving of their win. Seeing off the challenges of both the Kerry and Cork champions sees the West Clare side as worthy Munster Champions. All the team were heroines on the day but for me Dympna Walsh, Eimear Considine, Fiona O’Neill, Una Downes and Mairéad Nugent were outstanding. Rosie Currane on the wing was also excellent and Elaine O’Halloran, Colette Downes and Yvonne Downes did not shirk their responsibilities. Edel McMahon had a solid game in goals and could do nothing about the two first half Kerry goals.

Following the game Kilmihil’s Eimear Considine was presented with the ‘Player of the Match’ award and then to the delirious whoops of the Kilmihil supporters captain Fíona O’Neill was presented with the Vhi Healthcare Munster Junior Club Championship trophy by Munster chairman Michael Ryan.

Kilmihil: Edel McMahon, Linda Russell, Yvonne Downes, Collette Downes, Rosie Currane, Fiona O’Neill (capt.), Elaine O’Halloran, Dympna Walsh (0-1), Úna Downes, Eimear Considine (2-2), Mairéad Nugent (0-1), Sarah Cahill, Joan O’Halloran, Denise O’Halloran (0-1), Ailish Considine (0-3).

Subs: Sharon O’Gorman for Linda Russell 37 minutes.

Na Gaeil: Eimear Foley, Aoife Moriarty, Grace O’Shea, Eabha Ring, Shauna Roche, Rionna Ní Chinnéide, Niamh Moriarty, Katie Costelloe (0-1), Áine Kelliher, Cliodhna Carmody, Eileen Sayers (1-1), Ciara O’Sullivan (0-2), Sarah Cunningham (1-3), Bríd Troy, Laura Griffin.

Dr. Paul McKenna

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