Connacht Ladies 0-16 Boston Shamrocks 1-17
Boston Shamrocks retained the Ladies senior football championship following a bruising encounter with Connacht Ladies. It was end to end championship stuff for the 60 minutes with no quarter given on either side, and at the end of the day a late flurry of points for the Shamrocks put the game beyond doubt. Connacht battled hard throughout, but the Shamrocks were a step ahead when they needed to be especially with the game on the line down the stretch. Four points on the trot in the final minutes secured the result, and the Mickey Coyne trophy for 2017.
|Boston Shamrocks - Boston Northeast Ladies Senior Football Champions.|
From the outset the Connacht Ladies made their intentions clear that they were not about to allow the Shamrocks easy passage to another championship title. The intensity level was high on both sides from goalkeeper to goalkeeper and there were no easy scores. It was Sarah Jane McDonald who was the playmaker for the Shamrocks in the forward line. When the ball found the full forward the danger was on for the Shamrocks. At the other end, Jane Ward was the main target for Connacht Ladies. Connacht tried to find the Tyrone native at every chance and did so to great effect on several occasions.
Connacht opened with four points to one for the Shamrocks. Ward accounted for three, and Maria Kelly the fourth. The Shamrocks eventually found their feet and answered with five on the trot. All of the forward line were in on the act with Shannon Mullen, McDonald, Rebecca Mongan and Laura Kiernan hitting the mark. The Shamrocks looked dangerous when on the run and on a handful of occasions looked to be in for goal, however, one effort came off the post, another was saved by Jackie McDonagh, and the third flashed across the face of goal. The teams traded points in the run in to the break with the Shamrocks ahead nine points to eight at half time.
|Captains Ciara McCormack and Laura Kiernan.|
The second half continued on the same vein as the first. The ball moved up and down the field with speed and neither side giving an inch. Shelly Toohig was instrumental in the middle of the field for the Shamrocks, and her run set up McDonald for an early second half goal. McDonald had a little bit of work to do after receiving the ball, sidestepping the defender before sliding the ball across the line from the edge of the 14.
Connacht worked hard around the middle of the field, Ailbhe Finnerty, Shauna Garvin, Honor Ennis, and Niamh Sheridan made use of some hard won ball, but found it difficult to break down the Shamrocks back line. Laura Kiernan who lined out at full forward but played in a more withdrawn role as an extra defender for the Shamrocks and Toohig was omnipresent throughout the field to make some timely interceptions. The Cork native covered a tremendous amount of ground. Connacht managed to stay in the game, taking advantage of their chances. Ward, Ellie Lane, and SIofra Cleary popped over five points between them, while it was McDonald, Mongan, Eadoin Connolly and Ciara McGuigan on the mark for the Shamrocks.
With 10 minutes to go the McDonald goal was all that stood between the teams. With Connacht Ladies needing the big score, it was the Shamrocks who made the big play and finished strong. Nicole Byrne latched on the probing ball forward and coming out of defence set up McGuigan for a free that put 4 points between the teams. Kiernan added another, and McGuigan another free after that. A Kelly Harris point stretched the gap to seven points and at that point a minor miracle would be required for Connacht, but there were no miracles in sight. A premature end to the championship after a 3-game sweep perhaps, but it was a great game that proved to be the final one and well worthy of a championship decider it was.
Connacht: Jackie McDonagh, Hayley Kilgallen, Shauneen McAleer, Catherine Boyle, Honor Ennis, Niamh Sheridan, Maria Kelly, Aisling Egan, Ailbhe Finnerty, Ellie Lane, Shauna Garvin, Aisling Kerr, Kelly Harris, Jane Ward, Siofra Cleary.
Shamrocks: Sinead Hession, Cathy McEleaney, Ciara McCormack, Louise Kiernan, Kayla Farren, Nicole Byrne, Jade O’Donnell, Shannon Mullen, Shelly Toohig, Ellie Kennedy, Eodain Connolly, Ciara McGuigan, Sarah Jane McDonald, Laura Kiernan, Rebecca Mongan.
By Rory O'Donnell