Old Leighlin 4-5
St Anne’s 2-10
By Harry Shorthose
OLD Leighlin edged a thriller at IT Carlow last Wednesday evening, beating St Anne’s by a single point in the Carlow ladies football junior championship final.
It was end-to-end stuff and it was tight throughout. Old Leighlin should have been out of sight by half-time with seven wides and chances that went a begging.
St Anne’s went close in the early stages after some good work from Aoibheann Brennan but she found her effort saved.
It was Old Leighlin who drew first blood with Eibhe Lawler knocking over a point three minutes in. St Anne’s replied but Old Leighlin regained the lead. Six minutes in, Old Leighlin were awarded a penalty which Laura Kearney easily converted.
St Anne’s replied immediately through Dannah O’Brien before Meabh Donohue added another point to leave them a point ahead midway through the half. Both teams had chances to kick on before half-time and will be disappointed they didn’t.
St Anne’s were twice denied by the crossbar while Old Leighlin had several efforts saved, were denied by the post and also kicked several wides.
After the break, St Anne’s kicked on. Rachel Farrell scored from a free before Niamh Byrne fired into the back of the net to push them further ahead. Meadhbh Johnson scored another point to leave them with a six-point lead.
They probably should have pushed on from there but it was their turn to miss chances as they kicked six wides. However, Old Leighlin, never ones to give up, fought their way back into the game.
Ciara Cowman sent over a point before Jenny Sawyer fired into the back of the net after Maggie Forde’s shot rebounded into her path to leave them just two points behind. Grace Maher and Niamh Byrne replied with two further points for the Tullow side.
Old Leighlin fought their way back into the game again with Katie Lee and Niamh Bambrick scoring points before centre-back Ciara Farrell fired into the back of the net to leave them ahead by a point.
St Anne’s replied with a point through Byrne to bring things level again. An eight minute period ensued with both teams wasting chances to break the deadlock, and both goalkeepers were called upon to make good saves.
It looked destined to go to a replay, but there were opportunities for the team who had that little bit extra in the tank. With a minute to go, O’Brien scored a point from the left-hand side.
Old Leighlin then showed what champions are made of. Andrea Dooley’s goal kick found Maggie Forde who played through Siofra O’Neill. She ran 40 yards to send the ball into the back of the net. However, controversy ensued with the referee having already blown the whistle for a foul before she converted. It took the umpire several minutes to raise the green flag.
St Anne’s weren’t giving up and went forward one last time and a shot was blocked by Dooley before the rebound was hit over the bar. Alas for the sky blues, time was against them as Old Leighlin held on for the silverware.
St Anne’s: Katie Kennedy; Saoirse Byrne, Aisling Tooher, Niamh Bailey; Corrina Murray, Niamh Murphy, Chloe Murphy; Aoibheann Brennan, Holly Lillicrap; Rachel Farrell (0-2), Meabh Donohue (0-1), Meadhbh Johnson (0-1); Aine Sinnott, Dannah O’Brien (1-1), Niamh Byrne (1-4). Subs: Shauna Cahoon for Bailey (27 mins), Grace Maher for Sinnott (38 mins, 0-1).
Old Leighlin: Andrea Dooley; Laura Kearney (1-0), Ella Meaney, Orla Sawyer; Niamh Roche, Ciara Farrell (1-0), Siofra O’Neill (1-0); Michelle Purcell, Ciara Cowman (0-1); Gemma Carpenter, Niamh Bambrick (0-2), Maggie Forde; Shannon Foley, Eibhe Lawler (0-1), Katie Lee (0-1). Subs: Jenny Sawyer for Purcell (h/t, 1-0), Roisin Ryan for Roche (53 mins), Tina Kavanagh for Forde (60 mins).