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Aodh Ruadh girls capture county crown

Ladies under 16 Division 1 County Final
29 September 2019
Aodh Ruadh 4-7
Saint Naul's 1-5
John Hughes reports from Tir Chonaill Park

Aodh Ruadh girls claimed a first ever under 16 a grade county title with a deserved win at a damp Tir Chonaill Park on Sunday afternoon. Conditions made handling and shooting difficult, but Aodh Ruadh and Saint Naul's managed to serve up an enjoyable decider with good spells of quality football from both sides.

The Ernesiders were quickly off the mark with Niamh Hughes starting and finishing the move which produced the game's first score. After that the scores came much slower. Emer O'Brien clipped over a nice shot from play and Aoibhínn McGarrigle converted a free for Aodh Ruadh before Saint Naul's opened their final account with a point from Niamh Brown after 19 minutes.

Four minutes later Aodh Ruadh responded with a well-constructed move. Niamh Hughes picked out Aoibhínn McGarrigle with a smart pass and McGarrigle teed up the unmarked Tia McFarland to thump to the net.

With half-time approaching Lucy McGlynn was fouled for a penalty and Caitlin McGarrigle stepped up to the spot kick. Her crisply struck shot came back off the foot of the post, but she was alert to the rebound and slipped past Naomi Kennedy.

Saint Naul's showed great spirit in the face of that reversal. They immediately came back with a point and just before John McGlanaghey's half-time whistle they got the goal they had been threatening. Enya Gallagher's initial shot was brilliantly saved by Áine Hill, but there was nothing the Ballyshannon shot stopper could do about Gallagher's follow-up shot which found the net.

That left the half-time score at Aodh Ruadh 2-3 Saint Naul's 1-2 with everything to play for in the second half.

The first score of the new half was going to be crucially important, and it went the way of Aodh Ruadh with Chantelle Timoney clipping over a precise effort. Erin Doherty managed to get a quick answering point for the Mountcharles girls, but Timoney's score had helped settle Aodh Ruadh early.

Saint Naul's won a penalty of their own early in the half, but Niamh Brown's kick just flashed past the foot of Áine Hill's right post.

The Shamettes doubled the impact of that miss by creating another well-worked goal, expertly finished by midfielder Caoimhe Hughes O'Brien. Katie O'Brien then added a free in the 38th minute to make it Aodh Ruadh 3-5 Saint Naul's 1-3 as the Ballyshannon girls again threatened to cut loose.

Tia McFarland was fouled for the game's third penalty and again Caitlin McGarrigle took on dead ball responsibilities. Again she got a great connection with her kick only to watch it come back off the junction of post and crossbar. This time Naomi Kennedy was out quickly and forced McGarrigle to push her shot from the rebound right and wide.

Saint Naul's continued to hang in there, and frees from Caoimhe Green and Niamh Brown in the 42nd and 44th minutes meant there was just two goals between the sides with plenty of time still left to play.

Aodh Ruadh really knuckled down though, and finished the game strongly, keeping Saint Naul's scoreless while notching 1-2 themselves. Another trademark point from Aoibhínn McGarrigle on 49 minutes opened a bit more daylight between then sides. Then Caoimhe Hughes O'Brien capped an outstanding personal performance with her second goal of the day after some selfless work from Aoibhínn McGarrigle. Five minutes from time the tireless Emer O'Brien pointed to draw the curtain down on the scoring and while Aodh Ruadh lost their inspirational captain Caitlin McGarrigle on a yellow card the Ballyshannon girls pulled down the shutters to see out a fully-merited win and claim a historic county title for the club.

The final whistle saw great celebrations before the presentation of the county trophy to captain Caitlin McGarrigle. She made a great speech thanking Saint Naul's for a great game, the officials, Four Masters for the grounds, the team mentors, the parents and, most importantly, her team-mates.

It was an excellent team performance from the Aodh Ruadh girls. Áine Hill was superb between the posts and her kicks from turnover ball were noticeably effective in putting Aodh Ruadh on the attack. The full back line read play well all day, while the half backs threw up a wall which Saint Naul's had huge problems trying to penetrate. Midfielders Caoimhe Hughes O'Brien and Niamh Hughes were both excellent. Hughes O'Brien a truly masterful reader of the game while her centrefield partner harried relentlessly and was enthusiastic in the attack. Up front everyone took on their share of the responsibility, reflected in the fact that five of the starting forwards scored while Orla Keon was unlucky not to net what would have been goal of the season. Important also to recognise the important contribution of the substitutes, not just in this game, but across the course of the season. It takes a panel to win a county title and every single one of the 25 players in the squad played their role in bringing this title back to Ballyshannon, whether it was in games or ensuring high standards of competition training. They should take real pride in that contribution.

Ladies under 16 Division 1 County Final.
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Ladies under 16 Division 1 County Final.
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Ladies under 16 Division 1 County Final.
Click for a larger version

Ladies under 16 Division 1 County Final.
Click for a larger version

Ladies under 16 Division 1 County Final.
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Ladies under 16 Division 1 County Final.
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The trophy presentation.

Vital Statistics
Aodh Ruadh
Áine Hill; Ciara Caldwell, Grainne Maguire, Ella Clancy; Lucy McGlynn, Caitlin McGarrigle (1-0), Eilish Gallagher; Caoimhe Hughes O'Brien (2-0), Niamh Hughes (0-1); Chantelle Timoney (0-1), Aoibhínn McGarrigle (0-2), Emer O'Brien (0-2); Katie O'Brien (0-1f), Tia McFarland (1-0), Orla Keon.
Subs: Demi McFarland for K O'Brien; Sarah Jane Keon for C Timoney; Danielle Gallagher for E O'Brien; Katie McMullin, Laoise Kelly, Ciara Gillespie, Clodagh O'Connor, Caoimhe McCauley, Rihanna Burrows Masterson, Shauna O'Mahoney.
Saint Naul's
Naomi Kennedy; Ava Campbell, Caoilfhinn Deely, Aisling Murphy; Anna McGuckin, Annie McGroary, Caoimhe Greene (0-1); Orlaith Greene, Catherine Campbell; Niamh Brown (0-3, 1f), Enya Gallagher (1-0), Erin Doherty (0-1); Emma Mohan, Aoibheann Gallagher, Naomi Kelly.
Subs: Rachael Gallagher for C Campbell; Lucy Cunningham for McGukin; Rosie Campbell for A Gallagher.
Referee: John McGlanaghey (Four Masters).

Last modified: Tuesday, 2 June 2020 at 3:59pm