There was a lot to be admired about the determined manner in which Ballymore ladies won the County Ladies Minor Football Championship title against Longford Slashers in a most entertaining floodlit final played at Fay Park, Slashers GFC on Saturday evening last.
Ballymore’s full-forward Elaine Reilly converted a free in the first minute after half back Amy Creegan was fouled while making a penetrating run through the opposing defence. Slashers full-forward Keri Harmon immediately responded with an equalising point.
Points were then exchanged between Ballymore’s centre-half-forward Emer Heaney and Slashers powerful midfielder Sarah Madden before Clodagh Burns found the back of the Slashers net. A brace of fine points from the hard working Claire Farrell (Slashers) was followed quickly by two points from Elaine Reilly and a further point from Emer Heaney.
Claire Farrell pointed again for Slashers in the 25th minute before Clodagh Burns grabbed her second goal of the game for Ballymore and County midfielder Aisling Reynolds landed a fine point in the 27th minute to further extend the lead.
Slashers showed a lot of character in refusing to be rattled and almost immediately responded when Keri Harmon broke a resolute Ballymore defence to snatch a well taken goal in the 28th minute. Leading 2-8 to 1-6 at the break, Ballymore stepped up another gear and made a terrific start to the second half with points from Elaine Reilly (3) before Emer Heaney put the game beyond all doubt with a brace of fine goals in 37th and 46th minutes respectively.
Slashers faded badly in the second half and failed to register a score until Sarah Madden pointed with 12 minutes gone on the changeover. They were dealt a further blow when reduced to 14 players after their captain Hannah Farrell was sin binned. Melanie Smith and Bernice Masterson entered the fray, both making an immediate impact for Ballymore midway through the second half in place of the injured Aileen Murphy and Clodagh Burns respectively.
Ballymore consolidated their lead with a further goal from Ciara Harkin and points from Franchesca Kelly (2), Elaine Reilly and Clodagh Burns. Corner forward Elaine Murphy scored a consolation goal for Slashers in the closing stages.
While the Ballymore forward line, ably assisted by the midfield pairing of Claire Smyth and Aisling Reynolds, clocked up an impressive scoreline, a notable part in this Ballymore victory was played by goalkeeper Megan Creegan along with the resolute defending of Amy Creegan, Lisa Smyth, Joanne Browne, Aileen Murphy, Ciara Kelly and a youthful Sarah Smyth.
This victory caps a wonderful achievement for this group of players having won U-12, U-14, U-16 and now U-18 County Championship titles. A special word of praise must go to the Ballymore management team of Micheal Gettings, Mary Kiernan and Louise Brennan.
BALLYMORE: Megan Creegan, Ciara Kelly, Aileen Murphy, Sarah Smyth, Joanne Browne, Lisa Smyth, Amy Creegan, Aisling Reynolds (0-1), Claire Smyth, Caroline Kiernan, Emer Heaney (2-3), Franchesca Kelly (0-2), Clodagh Burns (2-1), Elaine Reilly (0-8), Ciara Harkin (1-0), Melanie Smith, Bernice Masterson, Claire Gettings, Claire Higgins, Nuala Smith, Danielle Dempsey, Laurine Corcoran, Niamh Masterson.
LONGFORD SLASHERS: Katy Harmon, Shauna Dolan, Ciara Flynn, Tara Farrell, Hannah Farrell, Lorna Goldrick, Roisin Kenny, Sarah Madden (0-2), Claire Farrell (0-3 ), Lisa Nolan, Orlagh O’Brien, Aisling Cosgrove, Elaine Murphy (1-0), Keri Harmon (1-2), Jade Hoare, Ingrid Nevin, Emer Casey, Eimear O’Brien, Shelly Gray, Gemma Reilly, Roisin Smith, Aoife O’Brien, Kyana Lee.