Scoil Mhuire Secondary School, Longford made history when they won a first ever All-Ireland football title and the U-16 girls were full value for their fairly emphatic victory over Galway opponents Glenamaddy Community School in the Junior ‘A’ Championship final on Friday last.
ALL IRELAND U16 A FINAL - Scoil Mhuire 4-8, Glenamaddy CS 1-10
Three first half goals proved decisive as Scoil Mhuire ended up leading by 3-3 to 0-6 at the break after playing against the wind in the first half while competent goalkeeper Shannon Woods came to the rescue in making a couple of excellent point-blank saves to keep her net intact.
With home advantage, Glenamaddy CS were regarded as the favourites to emerge victorious but were rattled by the concession of a couple of goals in the early stages of the game and their cause was certainly not helped by some very poor finishing as a total of seven wides were kicked in the first half.
The outstanding Aoife Darcy was very much the playmaker for the Longford town school throughout the All-Ireland Final, dropping deep to win a lot of valuable possession, and the effective manner in which the Clonguish girl linked up with Aisling Reynolds laid the foundations for a famous success.
Ballinalee native Reynolds, who also made a big impact, grabbed the opening goal with six minutes gone on the clock when her dipping shot ended up in the back of the net and moments later a second goal materialised for Scoil Mhuire when Elaine Murphy hit the target from a rebound after a close range shot from Keri Harmon was blocked down by the opposing keeper Roisin Morgan.
That left the Longford girls leading by 2-1 to 0-2 with Reynolds pointing a free in the first minute while Mary Fahy and Brigid Barlow got the early scores for Glenamaddy who were denied a goal in the 5th minute when Shannon Woods kept out a shot from impressive midfielder Louise Ward who posed a lot of problems during the course of this entertaining encounter.
The gap was gradually closed with Louise Ward, Nicola Ward and Caoimhe Boyle landing points for Glenamaddy while Fahy was unlucky not to find the back of the net for the home side when her shot from a tight angle deflected off the crossbar in the 11th minute.
While Aisling Reynolds converted a free in the 21st minute, Scoil Mhuire continued to live dangerously with keeper Shannon Woods the saviour again when stopping a close range goal attempt by Brigid Barlow and points were then exchanged between Louise Ward and Aoife Darcy (a quickly taken free) before Glenamaddy suffered a shattering blow in conceding a third goal deep into first half stoppage time.
Darcy set up Elaine Murphy who found the back of the net from a tight angle and the Galway girls were facing a real uphill battle against the wind in the second half. Scoil Mhuire were growing in confidence and they increased their commanding advantage with a further three points (all from play) through Reynolds, Leigh Casey and Darcy.
Shannon Woods then produced another excellent point-blank save to prevent Mary Fahy scoring a badly needed goal for Glenamaddy and their tale of woe continued when Louise Ward blasted a disputed penalty over the bar in the 46th minute.
The umpires consulted with the referee and apart from the strange decision to award a penalty, the Scoil Mhuire full-back and captain Leanne Keegan (Ardagh) was sent to the sin-bin for ten minutes after receiving a yellow card in this same incident which appeared to be a very harsh call by the Cavan referee Yvonne Duffy.
Scoil Mhuire were leading 3-6 to 0-7 at this stage and managed to overcome the handicap of having to continue with 14 players, adding another 1-2 to their tally during the remainder of the prolonged second half due to a number of injury stoppages.
The points were fired over by Aisling Reynolds (free) and Claire Farrell while the goal came from a brilliantly struck penalty from the accurate boot of Aoife Darcy. It was a fine all-round team effort by the new All-Ireland champions, so well coached by their manager Timmy Carroll, and a number of players figured prominently at different stages of the game.
The gallant losers Glenamaddy never gave up the fight and managed to score another three points, all from frees converted by Louise Ward, and grabbed a last gasp consolation goal when the excellent Scoil Mhuire keeper Shannon Woods was eventually beaten by a speculative effort from Caoimhe Boyle which deflected off the post into the net in the 9th minute of stoppage time.
SCOIL MHUIRE SC: Shannon Woods (Clonguish); Katie Harmon (Longford Slashers), Leanne Keegan (Mostrim), Nikita Cassidy (Mostrim); Mairead Victory (Mostrim), Briana Connell (Mostrim), Catriona Monaghan (Mostrim); Leigh Casey (Clonguish, 0-1), Claire Farrell (Longford Slashers, 0-1); Muireann Mulcahy (Killoe), Aisling Reynolds (Ballymore, 1-4, three points from frees), Rachel Cheevers (Mostrim); Elaine Murphy (Longford Slashers, 2-0), Keri Harmon (Longford Slashers), Aoife Darcy (Clonguish, 1-2, goal from penalty, one point from free).
Subs:- Eimear Monaghan (Mostrim) for Katie Harmon (half-time); Ciara Flynn (Longford Slashers) for M Mulcahy (58 mins); Fiona Byrne (Killoe) for E Murphy (65 mins); Marese Kiely (Killoe) for C Monaghan (65 mins); Aoife Jones (Longford Slashers) for Keri Harmon (68 mins).
GLENAMADDY CS: Roisin Morgan; Sarah Louise Lambe, Megan Heneghan, Kelly Divilly; Laura Kirrane, Nicola Ward (0-1), Clodagh Coyne; Louise Ward (0-6, three frees, one penalty), Caoimhe Boyle (1-1); Danielle Tully, Brigid Barlow (0-1), Ciara Morgan; Roisin O’Brien, Mary Fahy (0-1), Pia Geraghty.
Subs:- Marie Hegarty for C Coyne (49 mins); Fiona Geraghty.
Referee: Yvonne Duffy (Cavan).