Mullinalaghta will compete in the Ladies Senior Football Championship next year after winning the 2012 Intermediate Championship title. Mullinalaghta‘s perfect combination of ferocious tackling, lightning pace and precise finishing was enough to see off the challenge of Rathcline at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Saturday last.
Last year’s Junior title winners Rathcline were looking for successive championship promotions before Mullinalaghta brought their season grinding to a disappointing halt. The North Longford girls started brightly, by pinning Rathcline in their own half from the first whistle.
Despite losing Alison Smith to a suspected dislocated shoulder after just two minutes, Mullinalaghta raced into a three point lead through two points from Emer Kiernan, and one from Lauren Burke.
There was nine minutes gone on the clock before Rathcline scored, a Sinead Farrell point from play and then levelled through two points from Claire Greene. In the 17th minute, Noeleen Donlon pounced on a loose ball in the Mullinalaghta defence, and fed Dara McGann in front of goal. The corner forward’s strike hit the crossbar before looping over. It was a let-off for Mullinalaghta and one they did not take lightly. Two points in thirty seconds from Louise Battrim and Emer Mulligan put the girls in maroon and white ahead, and they led from there until the end. The irrepressible Lisa Mooney added a further point before setting up Louise Battrim for a goal on the stroke of half-time. Rathcline’s Michaela Cox hit back with a point before the break, to leave Mullinalaghta leading by 1-6 to 0-5.
Rathcline dominated the early proceedings in the second half and cut the deficit to three with an early Claire Greene point, but often failed to turn that control into scores. Frequently, the Rathcline forwards ran into a wall of Mullinalaghta defenders, whose swarming defence bottled up the attacker and forced turnovers.
This was evident in a spell between the 2nd and 17th minute when neither team scored. With Sinead Farrell wearing 14, but playing in a free role around the middle of the field, Rathcline often lacked a focal point on the edge of the square. Often, high balls were comfortable for Mullinalaghta goalkeeper Ellen Marie Donohoe as she was under little pressure.
That said, Rathcline never gave in and forced Donohoe into action as a quickly-taken free by Claire Greene was destined for the back of the net before Donohoe brilliantly parried it away for a ‘45. Greene and Paula Kenny pointed frees either side of an Iona Brady reply before Mullinalaghta struck a killer blow.
With nine minutes of regulation time remaining, the electric Lisa Mooney gathered the ball inside her own half, and embarked on an incisive run through the Rathcline defence. She then picked out Emer Kiernan unmarked, who rifled the ball to the net. A further two points from Kiernan and one from Mooney appeared to seal victory. A Paula Kenny goal for Rathcline in injury time jangled some nerves, but Mullinalaghta were not to be denied the Intermediate Championship title.
MULLINALAGHTA: Ellen Marie Donohoe; Niamh McGovern, Anne McCabe, Ciara Murphy; Aoife McGovern, Deirdre McGovern, Caoimhe Brady; Emer Mulligan (0-1), Amanda Matthews; Lisa Mooney (0-2), Emer Kiernan (1-4, two frees), Iona Brady (0-1); Lauren Burke (0-1), Louise Battrim (1-1), Alison Smith.
Subs:- Katie Crawford for A. Smith (injured, 2 mins); Melissa Rabbitte for I. Brady (57 mins); Shelly Mahon for L Battrim (59 mins); Jackie Callaghan for L Burke (63 mins); Aine Smith for L Mooney (65 mins); Lizzie Donohoe for C Murphy (65 mins).
RATHCLINE: Karena Mulvihill; Lauren Guinan, Ger Hanley, Aoife Farrell; Clara Melia, Lauren Farrell, Michaela Cox (0-1); Paula Kenny (1-2, one free) Noeleen Donlon; Claire Greene (0-5, two frees), Caoimhe Murray, Ann Duffy; Aoife Bannon, Sinead Farrell (0-1), Dara McGann (0-1).
Subs:- Jo Donlon for N Donlon (half-time); Patrice Nolan for A Duffy (half-time); Aoife Connerton for L Guinan (half-time); Michelle McCormack for A Bannon (52 mins); Aodhnait Casey for A Farrell (55 mins).
Referee: John Hughes (Killoe).