Ballymahon/Forgney ladies capture the Junior title

Geraldine McManus, the captain of the Ballymahon/Forgney team, receiving the Junior Championship Cup from Madeline Murray, Chairperson of the Longford Ladies GAA Board. Photo: Declan Gilmore
With powerful centre-half-forward Geraldine McManus leading the charge, Ballymahon/Forgney gradually asserted their superiority over Longford Slashers in the Ladies Football Junior Championship Final at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Saturday last.

With powerful centre-half-forward Geraldine McManus leading the charge, Ballymahon/Forgney gradually asserted their superiority over Longford Slashers in the Ladies Football Junior Championship Final at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Saturday last.

In the finish the very emphatic margin of 11 points separated the sides and while player-of-the-match McManus inflicted most of the damage in clocking up a total of 2-3 (all from play), the introduction of half-time substitute Keelin O’Connor made a considerable difference.

O’Connor scored 1-3 (all from play) to make sure that Ballymahon/Forgney were not going to let the Junior title slip from their grasp and the physically stronger winners were just too good for the younger Slashers side.

Experienced players Eimear Dooley and Claire Delaney also figured prominently for the south Longford outfit who pulled right away in the second half after holding a slender 1-3 to 0-4 lead at the break.

Geraldine McManus (who also hit the crossbar) scored the crucial goal in the 8th minute, and also landed a brace of points, while Delaney also shot over the bar.

Clare Farrell fired over a couple of scores for Slashers, with Eimear O’Brien and Elaine Murphy also on target - the latter clipping the crossbar for her point in the 21st minute.

Both sides were guilty of some very poor finishing in the first half but Ballymahon/Forgney got their scoring act together on the changeover in adding another 2-7 to their tally.

Following a point apiece from Keelin O’Connor and Aisling McCormack, the next goal for the winners materialised in the 39th minute when Geraldine McManus found the net at the second attempt after her initial effort was well saved by Slashers keeper Emer Casey.

Moments later, Claire Delaney had a great chance to put the issue beyond all doubt but her point-blank shot was stopped by Casey and the ball was cleared off the line.

A point apiece (frees) were then exchanged between Slashers substitute Sarah Madden and Aisling McCormack before the losers suffered a significant setback when another replacement Shelly Grey (only on the pitch for a couple of minutes) was sin-binned after receiving a yellow card.

So Slashers were down to 14 players for a ten minute period and Ballymahon/Forgney (leading by 2-6 to 0-5 at that stage) took full advantage to wrap up the county title.

Three points in a row through Geraldine McManus, Keelin O’Connor and Linda Merrigan and a goal from O’Connor in the 55th minute finished off Slashers, although they got a consolation goal moments later from Sarah Madden who was back in action after a lengthy injury absence.

But Ballymahon/Forgney had the final say when the accurate Keelin O’Connor shot over the bar and great credit to manager Paschal Fitzmaurice and mentor Blaine Grey for guiding the club to championship glory.

BALLYMAHON/FORGNEY: Joanne McCormack; Sarah Horan, Annamai Nevin; Naomi Marlowe, Rachel Horan, Shannon Reid; Eimear Dooley, Aisling McCormack (0-2, one free); Linda Merrigan (0-1), Geraldine McManus (2-3), Shannen O’Meara: Catriona Farrell, Claire Delaney (0-1).

Subs:- Keelin O’Connor (1-3) for C Farrell (half-time); Megan Noonan for AM Nevin (34 mins); Chloe Duffy for L Merrigan (stoppage time).

LONGFORD SLASHERS: Emer Casey; Gemma Reilly, Ciara Flynn; Laura Kenny, Jessica Barry, Aisling Cosgrove; Clare Farrell (0-2), Lisa Nolan; Kyana Lee, Aoife O’Brien, Orlaigh O’Brien; Eimear O’Brien (0-1), Elaine Murphy (0-1).

Subs:- Sarah O’Boyle for L Kenny (half-time); Aisling Smith for K Lee (half-time); Sarah Madden (1-1, point from free) for O O’Brien (40 mins); Shelly Gray for E Murphy (46 mins); Kate O’Boyle for E O’Brien (stoppage time).

Referee: Tony Gaffney (Mostrim).