The Longford Town FC U-16 ladies soccer team have reached the final of the prestigious FAI Umbro National Challenge Cup following their recent comprehensive 5-0 semi-final win over College Corinthians at their home ground in Douglas, Cork.
The FAI Umbro National Challenge Cup is the biggest prize in underage girls soccer, and having been denied the a place in the final last year following their defeat to eventual champions, Colga FC from Galway in the semi-finals, the Longford ladies have produced a highly charge challenge this season in their quest for honours.
Longford Town started the semi-final against College Corinthians in dramatic fashion, taking the lead within the first minute. From the kick-off, Irish U-17 international Michelle Farrell cut through the Corinthians midfield, passing to Aisling Cosgrove on the right wing, the ball made its way back to Farrell on the edge of the box, and with her back to goal, she spun and curled the ball into the top corner with her left foot.
This was a massive setback for Corinthians and they struggled to contain Aisling Cosgrove in the early stages of the game. With the Michelle Farrell goal settling any Longford nerves, they continued to take the game to their hosts, and when the ball made its way to the left wing midway during the first half, Donna Masterson hit a precise first time pass into the path of the on running Cosgrove, who finished with a one-touch finish that drew applause from all spectators.
An unfortunate injury to a Corinthians defender led to a 10 minute stoppage, which gave Longford an opportunity to regroup, and within minutes of the match resuming, they scored their third goal. Sarah Shannon advanced from the back, and neat interplay saw Aisling Cosgrove again free with the ball at her feet. Her pin-point cross was controlled by Michelle Farrell, who gave the keeper no chance to fire home her second goal to leave the Town girls 3-0 in front at half-time.
Corinthians had the potential to be dangerous, and after beating Salthill Devon in the quarter-final, would have been full of confidence, but they came up against a very focused and determined Longford Town team who took full advantage of their dream start.
The second half fared no better for the Douglas outfit, and when Grainne Walsh scored a fine individual effort to make it 4-0, the travelling support could start making plans for the All-Ireland Final against Dublin opponents St Joseph’s Girls which is scheduled for the Mullingar Athletic FC grounds on Sunday next, August 14th, kick-off 3pm.
Aoife Darcy replaced Donna Masterson, and added to the torment of the Cork defenders, whose spirits were further dented by Walsh’s second goal, capping off a prominent display. Longford continued to work hard until the final whistle, with both Walsh and Farrell coming close on a few occasions to completing hat-tricks. Cosgrove was replaced by Elaine Murphy, and her player of the match display earned her a second standing ovation.
The Longford Town players and coaches can now look forward to a National final and the chance to contest the biggest prize in underage girls soccer. The final will be a fantastic event, with the tradition and strength of St Joseph’s Girls (who beat fellow Dublin outfit Peamount United 2-1 in the other semi-final) providing a stern test for the Town. Your support on the day would be greatly appreciated.
LONGFORD TOWN SQUAD: Bethany Houldsworth, Sarah Shannon, Aodin Mimnagh, Michelle Masterson, Leanne Keegan, Karen Delaney, Aisling Cosgrove, Aisling Reynolds, Grainne Walsh, Michelle Farrell, Donna Masterson, Elaine Murphy, Aoife Darcy, Claire Farrell, Hannah Duggan, Ellie Columb.