Aodh Ruadh book final place with accomplished win
Ladies under 14 A championship semi-final
10 June 2017
Saint Eunan's 3-6
Aodh Ruadh 2-11
O'Donnell Park, Letterkenny
Aodh Ruadh showed class and character to book their place in the county final. Saint Eunan's got the better of the Shamettes during the league, but Ballyshaannon had showed with a run of wins over Naomh Conaill and Killybegs that they were coming into form at just the right time.
It was a humid, close day in Letterkenny with a few bursts of rain in the course of the first half, but by and large it was a good day for football with O'Donnell Park in immaculate condition.
Aodh Ruadh got off to the perfect start just a few minutes in with Aoibhínn McGarrigle driving home a quality goal. Eunan's hit back with a point, but Aodh Ruadh were quickly back hunting for goal, only for Niamh Hughes to be denied by a foot block.
A fine Tia McFarland point made it 1-1 to 0-1, but only a great save by Aine Hill prevented it from being all square after ten minutes as both sides started to settle into the game. The hosts did manage to grab the next score, a point, but Aodh Ruadh hit back with three unanswered points. The first was a fine effort from Aoibhínn McGarrigle. The second came when Emer O'Brien was fouled in the area, but the referee elected to award 13 metre free which Sarah Jane Keon converted. Another crisply taken Tia McFarland point then moved Aodh Ruadh 1-4 to 0-2 ahead with 17 minutes on the clock.
The second quarter was hotly contested and Saint Eunan's, playing with the breeze, finally made it count as they hit the last two points of the half to make it 1-4 to 0-4. The Ernesiders could hardly have played any better.
The first score of the second half went to the Letterkenny girls. However Aodh Ruadh pushed four ahead with two more Sarah Jane Keon points, the second of those a free.
However this is a good Saint Eunan's side and they were never going let the visitors have it all their own way for 60 minutes. They entered their best spell of the game 38 minutes in when they finally hit the net after valiant Aodh Ruadh defending.
Ballyshannon responded well though. Aoibhínn McGarrigle and Sarah Jane Keon both slipping over to make it 1-8 it 1-5 with 15 minutes left to play.
Eunan's struck back hard raiding for a point followed by two goals between the 43rd and 48th minutes to hit the front and race four points ahead with time running out.
Once again Aodh Ruadh were remarkably calm and composed. They worked an opening which Sarah Jane Keon pounced on before bearing down on the Letterkenny goal and letting fly with an unstoppable shot to the net.
Keon levelled the game up with four minutes left to play, and from that point on Aodh Ruadh always looked the more likely winners. The muggy, energy-sapping conditions and the intensity of this well-contested game had taken it out of both sides. However it was Aodh Ruadh who still had that little extra in the tank. Their constant attacking in the latter stages yielded two frees and these were expertly dispatched by the flawless Sarah Jane Keon.
The final whistle after four added minutes was greeted with great cheering after this tensely fought game. The Aodh Ruadh girls showed their class by also commiserating with the heart-broken Saint Eunan's players.
A superb performance by Aodh Ruadh. Sarah Jane Keon, Aoibhínn McGarrigle and Tia McFarland all hit great scores, but Danielle Gallagher's intelligence and direct running, Niamh Hughes's strength and ball winning and Emer O'Brien's tireless harrying were all intrinsic to an outstanding offensive effort.
Once again Caitlin McGarrigle was a rock in midfield, cutting out ball and setting Aodh Ruadh on the attack. Lucy McGlynn was a good shout for player of the match as time after time she snuffed out Saint Eunan's attacks in their infancy. Eilish Gallagher was in typically uncompromising form while Orla Keon had one of her best games of the year and Ella Clancy put in an huge shift tracking back.
The back three were magnificent with Grainne Maguire in simply unmarkable form, Clodagh O'Connor and Ciara Caldwell were both coolness itself against very dangerous opponents. In nets Aine Hill made a number of great stops and cleared her lines well. Meanwhile Katie O'Brien provided a great injection of energy on her introdution.
Aine Hill; Clodagh O'Connor, Grainne Maguire, Ciara Caldwell; Orla Keon, Lucy McGlynn, Eilish Gallagher; Caitlin McGarrigle, Tia McFarland (0-2), Niamh Hughes, Danielle Gallagher, Emer O'Brien; Aoibhínn McGarrigle (1-2), Sarah Jane Keon (1-7, 5f), Ella Clancy. Subs: Katie O'Brien for Clodagh O'Connor.
Last modified: Saturday, 10 June 2017 at 9:40pm