By Daire Walsh
The attacking triumvirate of Katelynn O’Brien, Ciara McConnell and Louise Fagan were in devastating form at Lawless Park on Wednesday evening, as Ballyboughal held off the spirited challenge of Garristown to secure the New Ireland Assurance Junior F Club Championship crown.
After a difficult start to this encounter (which was preceded by a Junior G showpiece between St Monica’s and St Brendan’s), Garristown forced their way back into contention, with Dublin underage star Amy O’Brien proving to be an influential figure in their attack.
However, Ballyboughal had developed a strong platform during the opening period, and they eventually secured top honours with seven points to spare. Coming into this fixture, both sides were fully aware of how important the first-quarter of the play would be.
As it transpired, it was Ballyboughal who hit the ground running during the early exchanges, and with just three minutes gone on the clock, they recorded the first goal of the contest. At the end of a prolonged move close to the Garristown goal, Sally Farrell fired home from close-range, and this was quickly supplemented by a point from inside forward Ciara McConnell.
This helped to boost the confidence levels of Ballyboughal, and after racing through the heart of the Garristown defence on six minutes, the pacy Katelynn O’Brien secured another three-pointer by finding the top left-hand corner of Irene O’Brien’s goal.
Subsequent points by McConnell and Louise Fagan increased Ballyboughal’ s lead to all of nine points, before Garristown finally opened their account after 13 minutes with a fine score by Amy O’Brien.
They were aiming to build momentum following this point, but instead it was Ballyboughal who responded with five points in as many minutes. The accurate McConnell contributed three successful frees in this juncture, and there was also a point apiece from Fagan and midfielder Aoife Hennessy.
It was beginning to look quite ominous for Garristown – who included Laura Rock and Shannon Rock (daughters of Barney and sisters of Dean Rock) – in their starting line-up – at this stage, but they did develop a purple patch in the closing moments of the half.
Aided by the industrious Sinead O’Brien, Amy O’Brien kicked two points in quick succession, while Laura McManus and Siobhan Rutledge were also on target for the Chapel Lane outfit. They also ended the half with a numerical advantage owing to the sin-binning of Ballyboughal defender Kate Downey, but they were still facing into a sizeable nine-point deficit (2-08 to 0-05) when the action resumed.
Ballyboughal’s final score of the first-half had arrived in the 19th minute, but they re-established their foothold on the game with another Fagan point in the early stages of the second period. Yet, the absence of Downey certainly hampered them for much of the third-quarter, and Garristown did manage to work their way back to within touching distance of their north side rivals.
Amy O’Brien converted a 35th-minute free, and Rutledge was in the right place from the resulting attack to shoot past Ballyboughal custodian Sharon O’Brien McGuirk. This major was eventually supplemented by another Amy O’Brien single, and suddenly (with just 14 minutes of normal time to play) Garristown were only five points in arrears.
Despite troubling Garristown with some high deliveries into the square, Ballyboughal were finding it difficult to add to their tally at times, but they produced one of the key scores of the tie in the 47th minute.
The speed of Katelynn O’Brien kept the Garristown defence on the back-foot for large spells, and she finished off another incisive move for her second goal of the night. Garristown were now once again in a position where they had to chase the game, and although Amy O’Brien once more raised a white flag, a successful free by McConnell on the stroke of 50 minutes left Ballyboughal in a seemingly insurmountable position heading into the final stages.
Another Amy O’Brien free did keep them on their toes, though, and they once again found themselves playing with 14 players, as Downey was dismissed for a second yellow card offence five minutes from time.
This offered a glimmer of hope to Garristown, but despite cancelling out another Fagan point with a similar effort by the marauding Helen White, it was Ballyboughal who emerged victorious in comprehensive fashion.
Ballyboughal: Katelynn O’Brien 2-00, Ciara McConnell 0-06 (5f), Louise Fagan 0-04, Sally Farrell 1-00, Aoife Hennessy 0-01.
Garristown: Amy O’Brien 0-07 (3f), Siobhan Rutledge 1-01, Helen White, Laura McManus 0-01 each.
BALLYBOUGHAL: Sharon O’Brien McGuirk; Sinead O’Keefe, Katie Flynn, Susie O’Brien; Louise Wogan, Kate Downey, Kate Fagan; Aoife Hennessy, Aoibhne Counihan; Carla Fay, Sally Farrell, Niamh Counihan; Ciara McConnell, Louise Fagan, Katelynn O’Brien.
SUBS: Rachael Teefy for Wogan (38), Wogan for Fay (50), Megan Gannon for N Counihan (57).
GARRISTOWN: Irene O’Brien; Ciara Murray, Niamh Sweetman, Aisling Murray; Anna McArdle, Helen White, Anne Tormey; Laura Rock, Laura McManus; Shannon Rock, Siobhan Rutledge, Edel Quinn; Jenny Dowling, Sinead O’Brien, Amy O’Brien.
SUBS: Aoife Connell for S O’Brien (49), Sarah Gormley for McArdle (59), Chloe Mason for Sweetman (61).
Referee: Reg Harbron (St Anne’s)
Image Credit: GAApics.com