New Ireland Assurance Junior G Dublin LGFA Club Championship Final- Match Report
St James Gaels 1-08
Erins Isle 2-04
By Nigel McCarthy
St James Gaels claimed the New Ireland Assurance Junior G Ladies Football Championship title with an injury time converted free from Joanne Prendergast on Friday evening in St Margarets GAA Club.
Their opponents Erins Isle who looked to have brought this Junior G final to extra time with a stunning goal from Jade Callery in stoppage time, were left devastated at the final whistle.
It was an extremely tight affair throughout with both defenses Scrooge like throughout the contest and scoring opportunities were at a premium.
St James Gaels got off to the perfect start, a shot by Joanne Prendergast after a quick exchange of passes with Robyn Tysom cannoned back off the crossbar, Gaels Leanne Byrne was quickest to react and smashed the ball to the top right hand corner of the net.
Niamh O’Sullivan who impressed throughout won the resultant restart, she passed down the left hand side to Hannah Kavanagh who swiftly found the on running Catriona Fitzgerald through the middle and the centre half forward clipped over a nice point.
Erins Isle needed a score to settle into the game and got the perfect fill up in the 7th minute when a speculative shot from Emma Quinn ended up in the bottom lefthand corner of the net.
Isle’s almost grabbed a second major three minutes later.
A long ball towards the square looped over the backline, the ball bounced towards the Gaels keeper and her attempted kick clear came back of an Isle’s player and the rebound just sailed inches past the outside of the post.
The Finglas outfit had their tails up and pushed up on the restart, Megan Thomas won the ball passed inside to Jade Gallery who picked out Emma Quinn who was fouled, Thomas converted and the sides were level.
Neither side troubled the scoreboard for the next 16 minutes as both backlines put up the ‘Thou Shall Not Pass’ signs.
Erins Isle finally broke the the scoreless passage, Jade Callery turned inside her marker, passed the ball out to her right to Megan Thomas, she hit a lovely pass inside to Katie Duggan who split the post with an excellent strike.
Just before the short whistle Catriona Fitzgerald went on a brilliant run through the heart of the Finglas outfits defence and struck a fine point to give St James Gaels a one point lead at the break with the score 1-03 to 1-02.
Two quick point chances in the opening minute of the second half were spurned by Erins Isle as they began the second period with serious intent.
Those missed opportunities were punished by St James Gaels.
A high ball deep into the Finglas teams defence was won brilliantly in the air by Niamh O’Sullivan, although falling to the ground she quickly sprung back to her feet and turned to her left to create enough space to get her shot away for a point.
A flowing move involving Catriona Fitzgerald, Niamh Sullivan and finished off by Joanne Prendergast in the 40th minute pushed the Gaels lead out to three.
The side from Finglas needed to change the direction of the game and in the 45th minute the Isle’s management made the unusual decision to switch their goalkeeper with an outfield player.
Full forward Maggie McIntyre pulled on the goalkeeper gloves and number one Caoimhe O’Toole donned the number 23 jersey.
The move almost payed dividends three minutes later, O’Toole won a ball in the middle, found Megan Thomas and her cross field pass was flicked just wide of the Gaels goal by Katie Duggan.
A stunning point after an excellent defence splitting run from deep by Tia Nulty, who was one of the standout performers in the game, put two between the teams with six minutes remaining.
Seconds later and a nice point from Samantha Jameson had reduced the deficit to just a single point.
The response though from St James Gaels was swift, in the next attack substitute Olwyn Butler broke down the left hand side.
As the Erins Isle defenders closed in she picked out Hannah Kavanagh with a pass over the heads of the backline and Kavanagh swung the ball over the bar.
In the final minute of normal time the Crumlin outfit were awarded a free, O’Sullivan found Butler but her shot was blocked down, O’Sullivan retrieved the ball and split the posts.
That left three points between the sides as the game headed into injury time. Isle’s attacked in numbers and won a free about 25 yards out.
A point at this stage wasn’t enough with time almost up to wrestle the Junior G title from the hands of Gaels.
Jade Callery took the ball in her hands and glanced at the goal through the plethora of bodies in front of her.
She took a deep breath and then unleashed a rocket which nestled into the top right corner of the net for the equaliser despite the efforts of the players on the line.
Extra time looked to be on the cards but there was just enough time for one more piece of drama in an already dramatic Junior G Final.
St James Gaels swept back down the field and as Aishling Whelan entered the scoring zone she was fouled.
That gave Joanne Prendergast the opportunity to put her team back in front and she held her nerve to swing the free over the bar.
The final whistle sounded just after the resultant kick out and the Junior G championship title will reside in Crumlin for the next year.
Scorers For St James Gaels: Joanne Prendergast 0-03, Leanne Byrne 1-00, Niamh O’Sullivan, Catriona Fitzgerald 0-02 each, Hannah Kavanagh 0-01.
Scorers For Erins Isle: Emma Quinn 1-00, Jade Callery 1-00 (F), Tia Nulty 0-01, Megan Thomas 0-01 (F), Samantha Jameson 0-01, Katie Duggan 0-01.
St James Gaels: Aisling McHugh, Leanne Byrne, Katie Kavanagh, Cathy Hannigan, Ann Marie McGrath, Cliodhna Devitt, Aisling Whelan, Niamh O’Sullivan, Rachel Burke, Joanne Prendergast Catriona Fitzgerald, Martina Sheehan, Robyn Tysom, Hannah Kavanagh, Rachel Roe.
Substitutions: Olwen Butler for Leanne Byrne (HT), Mollie Downs for Robyn Tysom (HT)
Erins Isle: Caoimhe O’Toole, Amy Bernando, Annette Murray, Sarah Upton, Tia Nulty, Samantha Jameson, Jade Callery, Megan Thomas, Amie Trawally, Katie Duggan, Emma Quinn, Hannah Flood, Stephanie Bennett, Maggie Mclntyre, Molly Upton.
Substitutions: Niamh Finnegan for Stephanie Bennett (54th Min)