David McCabe presenting the Lidl Ladies Football Leinster Post-Primary Schools Junior 'B' Cup to Newtowncashel girl Ciara Healy, the captain of the victorious Mercy Ballymahon SS U-16 squad.
Eight points behind (2-9 to 1-4) in the early stages of the second half and looking in big trouble, Mercy Ballymahon SS U-16 ladies enjoyed a new lease of life in storming back to beat Moate CS in a drama packed Leinster Junior ‘B’ Football Championship Final at the Tubberclair grounds on Friday last.
Lidl Ladies Football Leinster Post-Primary Schools Junior (U-16) ‘B’ Championship Final
Mercy Ballymahon Secondary School . . . . 5-8 Moate Community School . . . . 3-11
Trailing by 1-8 to 1-4 at the break, Ballymahon SS (badly hit by the absence of injured key forwards Sarah Dillon and Ciara Foxe) appeared to have suffered a severe setback when Moate Community School scored a second goal with six minutes gone on the changeover.
A dipping shot from Aoife Dalton (who got the first half goal for Moate CS) ended up in the back of the net and with the same player landing a point a few minutes earlier the pressure was piling on Ballymahon SS who stepped up a grade this season after winning the Leinster U-16 ‘C’ title in 2016.
But a great comeback gradually materialised, inspired by excellent attacker Clodagh Lohan who scored 3-1 in a thrilling second half to swing the issue in favour of the south Longford school who can now look forward to the All-Ireland Junior ‘B’ semi-final on Monday March 20.
It was a tremendous overall performance by the Ballymahon SS girls to rescue the situation when all seemed lost and Moate just ran out of steam with the referee playing 15 minutes of stoppage time due to a recurring number of injuries that prolonged the second half.
When Clodagh Lohan shot to the net in the 49th minute, the gap was closed to just two points but back came Moate with a brace of scores in quick succession from wing forward Sinead Robbins to lead by 2-11 to 2-7.
During the course of this cracking contest Ballymahon SS hit the crossbar (twice), the post and had a shot cleared off the line but still had enough scoring power to emerge victorious and further goals from Lohan (56 mins) and Zoe Guinnane (the lead score in the 60th minute) proved decisive in the eventual outcome.
It was Guinnane who scored the opening goal for Ballymahon SS in the 12th minute of the game with Ciara Healy getting all four of the first half points (two frees) and they improved beyond recognition in the second half to outscore stunned Moate CS 4-4 to 2-3.
Clodagh Lohan scored the fifth and final goal for Ballymahon SS in the 8th minute of stoppage time to leave her side five points in front.
While Moate remained in contention when Maria O’Donohue shot to the net a few minutes later, a point from Sophie Hogan in the 15th minute of additional time clinched a tremendous victory for the new Leinster ‘B’ champions.
MERCY BALLYMAHON SECONDARY SCHOOL: Blathnaid McDonagh (Ballymahon/Forgney); Caoimhe Lohan (Grattans), Roisin Leen (Grattans), Sinead O’Neill (Ballymahon/Forgney); Rebecca O’Kane (Grattans), Clodagh Dillon (Milltown, Westmeath), Muirinn Claffey (Ballymahon/Forgney); Petrina Carrigy (Grattans, 0-1), Aisling McCormack (Ballymahon/Forgney); Ciara Mulligan (Carrickedmond), Ciara Healy (Rathcline, 0-5, three frees), Clodagh Lohan (Grattans, 3-1); Donna Hannafin (Ballymahon/Forgney), Zoe Guinnane (Tang, 2-0), Julieann Moran (Carrickedmond).
Subs:- Sophie Hogan (Grattans, 0-1) for D Hannafin (27 mins); Zoe Gallagher (Rathcline) for J Moran (38 mins).
MOATE COMMUNITY SCHOOL: Fiona Fox; Emily McCabe, Annemarie Moran, Therese Robbins; Ruth Martin, Therese Geoghegan, Emma Kelly; Roisin Ennis, Aine Gaynor; Maria O’Donohue (1-1), Leah Quigley (0-6, two frees), Sinead Robbins (0-2); Hazel Hughes, Aoife Dalton (2-2), Ailbhe Sheridan.
Sub:- Niamh O’Reilly for H Hughes (38 mins).
Referee: Niall McCormack (Laois).