ST MONICA’S 2-08
ST BRENDAN’S 1-06
By Daire Walsh
Late goals from Aoife Dillon and Jemma Lynch proved decisive at Lawless Park on Wednesday evening, when St Monica’s claimed the New Ireland Assurance Junior G Club Championship title in dramatic fashion against St Brendan’s.
The determined Brendan’s appeared to be in pole position to secure the silverware on offer when they led by four points (1-6 to 0-5) with just seven minutes of normal time remaining, but a late scoring blitz ensured that the championship crown would be heading to Edenmore.
Led on the day by centre-forward Jessie Lynch, Monica’s opened the scoring with a well-worked point from play courtesy of Aoife Dillon. However, despite falling behind from the first attack of the contest, Brendan’s quickly settled into the proceedings.
Wing-forward Miriam Howlin was extremely unfortunate to see her goal-bound effort in the third-minute rebounding off the Monica’s upright, but midfielder Shauna Fitzpatrick was ultimately on hand to split the posts.
There was little to separate the two teams in the early stages of the play, and even though the energetic Louise Whelan raced through for another Monica’s point, it was quickly cancelled out by a simple contribution from Brendan’s full-forward Julie Fox.
Both defences were starting to get on top as the half progressed, but just before the first-quarter, Monica’s were presented with a golden opportunity to create daylight in this showpiece encounter. At the end of a powerful run towards the Brendan’s goal, Monica’s inside forward Megan Colman was brought down inside the area by corner-back Aoife McHugh.
Dillon stepped forward for the resulting penalty, only for opposition netminder Karen O’Connell to deny her with an excellent low save. This lifted the spirits of the Brendan’s faithful, and with 18 minutes gone on the clock, the Grangegorman outfit moved into the lead for the very first time – as Fitzpatrick claimed her second point of the tie.
Monica’s had been wasteful at times in the opening period, although the influential Dillon eventually levelled matters on 22 minutes. Brendan’s were certainly growing in confidence edging towards the interval, however, and an incisive attack with six minutes remaining in the half was coolly slotted to the bottom left-hand corner of the Monica’s net by the elusive Fox.
This was a set-back for Monica’s – who had been performing well up to this point in the action – and even though Dillon added an outstanding point from long-distance in the 29th-minute, Brendan’s nevertheless brought a slender 1-03 to 0-04 advantage in the second-half.
This was not an insurmountable deficit for Monica’s to be facing into, though, and Dillon had a three-point opportunity turned away by O’Connell less than 60 seconds after the restart. A goal here would have galvanised their challenge, but following an excellent point by defender Robyn Whelan, they reduced their deficit to the bare minimum.
Yet, Brendan’s didn’t display any signs of panic, and owing to hard-earned scores by the inside duo of Fox and Helen Lenihan, they were three points to the good heading into the final-quarter.
Monica’s continued to create a number of chances as the half developed, but with the Brendan’s rearguard placing them under intense pressure, they were struggling to eat into their opponents’ cushion.
Indeed, another point by the influential Fox offered Brendan’s some much-needed breathing space, before Megan Colman registered Monica’s first score in all of 18 minutes to put just a goal between the sides.
Monica’s had introduced a number of fresh faces during the second period, and Lisa Pidgeon in particular made a significant impact. Her intelligent pass across the Brendan’s presented Dillon with a clear-cut opening, and she fired home in clinical style to restore parity to the game.
With their tails now up, Monica’s almost immediately moved back into the ascendancy with an exceptional point from play by Dillon on 59 minutes, and after winning a throw-in on the 21-metre-line, Jemma Lynch fired low through the fingertips of O’Connell for her side’s second goal in just three minutes.
This score had, incredibly, placed the tie beyond the reach of Brendan’s, and a stoppage-time point by Lisa Breheny proved to be the icing on the cake for the jubilant St Monica’s.
St Monica’s: Aoife Dillon 1-04 (0-1f), Jemma Lynch 1-00, Robyn Whelan 0-01, Lisa Breheny 0-01, Louise Whelan 0-01, Megan Colman 0-01.
St Brendan’s: Julia Fox 1-03, Shauna Fitzpatrick 0-02, Helen Lenihan 0-01.
ST MONICA’S: Kelly Fitzpatrick; Ciara Kelly, Aislinn Somers, Robyn Whelan; Eve McDarby, Amy O’Driscoll, Naomi Leonard; Sorcha O’Kelly, Lisa Breheny; Louise Whelan, Jessie Lynch, Jemma Lynch, Aoife Dillon, Suzanne Farrelly, Megan Colman.
SUBS: Denise Manning for C Kelly (39), Lisa Pidgeon for Lynch (41), Leanne Kelly for Farrelly (49), Kayleigh Tully Knott for O’Driscoll (53).
ST BRENDAN’S: Karen O’Connell; Andrea Curley, Anne Marie Riney, Aoife McHugh, Helen Macklin, Clare Owens, Eimear McKenna, Ines Rubio Alacla-Galiano, Shauna Fitzpatrick, Sarah Doherty, Erin Fadian, Miriam Howlin, Helen Lenihan, Julie Fox, Kate Reddan
SUBS: Sara Hosford for Macklin, Kara Brady for Lenihan (both 44).
Referee: Gary Boyce (Trinity Gaels).
Image Credit: GAApics.com