Tyrone champions lay down credentials

Tyrone Champions Lay Down Credentials By Ciaran Woods

Tyrone champions Carrickmore will make a third consecutive
appearance in the Ulster Club final following a comprehensive
ten-point victory over Donegal champions, St Eunans Letterkenny.

This was always going to be a tricky assignment for the Carmen
girls against one of the traditional “superpowers” of the
ladies club game, the team they overcame in last years provincial
decider, and a side bolstered by no less than ten of the team
which just seven days previous helped the Donegal county side
claim the All-Ireland Junior title.

The game started brightly with both sides attempting to secure
an early advantage, and it was Carrickmore who took the lead
with a fine pointed free by Elaine Coyle. This should have
steadied her side but it was St Eunans who made all the early
running, but were unable to take advantage of scoring opportunities
kicking no less than seven wides in the first half.

The game flowed from one end to the other with neither side
able to make an impact early on, and after twenty minutes
of play the score remained 0-2 to 0-1 in favour of the Donegal

Sinead Mc Aleer doubled Carrickmores tally with a pointed
free, and this appeared to spur the Tyrone side into action.
Minutes later Gemma Begley found space inside the 13 metre
line, turning her marker before firing to the roof of the
lead. Just seconds later Begley was presented with another
chance, this time opting to kick the rolling ball cleverly
first time, forcing the St Eunans keeper into a fine save
at the expense of a “45”.

Begley was proving to be a real thorn in the St Eunans side,
causing chaos with her every touch. It was the livewire corner-forward
who was pivotal to Carrickmore’s next score, sending Mc Aleer
through to point and increase her own tally.

Begley then found herself on the end of a long-range Maire
Grogan free, and found enough space to fire over for another
point, before the impressive Eilish Gormley reacted quickly
to indecision in the St Eunans rearguard to blast the ball
to the back of the net for Carrickmore’s second goal of the

St Eunans appeared shellshocked but clawed themselves back
into contention with two pointed 13-metre free kicks converted
by County star Catherine Mc Ateer. The Donegal champions could
only manage one further point before the interval, and it
was left to Carrickmores Elaine Coyle to round off the first
half scoring with another converted free to give her side
a 2-5 to 0-6 half time lead.

The Donegal side commenced the second half with a flurry,
and Carrickmore were forced to weather an onslaught by the
home side in the early stages of the second half. The scoring
was opened with a pointed free by St Eunans, before Mc Ateer
saw a blistering effort rebound back off the crossbar and
out to safety.

Carmen goalkeeper Sarah Mc Elroy came to the Tyrone side’s
rescue with a spectacular double save low at her post when
goals seemed the certain outcome. This appeared to provide
her team with the boost they needed, and Carrickmore began
to reclaim their grip on the tie.

The impressive Lynnette Hughes fired over Carmen’s first score
of the half following a patient build up, before Elaine Coyle
got her first score from play to open up a six-point lead
and put daylight between the sides. A further point from Coyle
and a great individual effort from Hughes extended Carrickmores
lead as St Eunans struggled to cope with the slick passing
movements of last years beaten All-Ireland finalists. Gemma
Begley capitalised on a misplaced pass in the St Eunans defence
to score her second goal of the day, firing past the stranded
goalkeeper to all but secure Carrickmores place in the provincial

Catherine Mc Ateer pulled a further two points back for St
Eunans, but they were unable to find their way past the outstanding
Sarah Mc Elroy for the goals necessary to turn the game, and
Carrickmore progressed to the final on a scoreline of 3-10
to 0-9

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