All-Ireland Intermediate Camogie Championship Final: Cork V Down – Cork Management Reaction – Selector Brian O’Sullivan – The Evening Echo – 10 September 2018

‘A huge weight off their shoulders

MATCH REACTION

Daire Walsh

FOLLOWING recent final heartache in GAA HQ, Cork intermediate selector Brian O’Sullivan was delighted to see the Leesiders got over the line against Down in the All-Ireland camogie final.

With reversals to Kilkenny and Meath still fresh in the minds of the majority of the squad, he admitted there was a sense of relief within the ranks.

“For a few of these girls, it’s a huge weight off their shoulders. In fairness, a lot of new blood came into the squad this year as well,” O’Sullivan said.

“Just overall, fantastic for the girls. We were only concentrating on today really, as opposed to the previous years.”

While Cork were worthy 0-18 to 0-6 winners when the teams met in the group stages back in July, this was always likely to be a tougher assignment. Down threatened an upset when they led by three points (0-5 to 0-2) in the 16th minute, before Cork hit a purple patch that O’Sullivan believes was a crucial factor in their success.

“We expected nothing less from Down to be honest. We knew they’d come out all guns blazing. They’re a very proud camogie county. They’re a strong, physical team, but we knew once we gained our composure and settled.

“Thankfully, we went in two points up. We re-grouped at half-time and gave a good performance in the second half. Overall, just delighted for the squad in particular.”

Because manager Paudie Murray was already turning his attention to the senior decider, O’Sullivan assumed post-match media duties. Cork’s triumph over Kilkenny in the day’s showpiece event made it a day to remember for all associated with Cork camogie and O’Sullivan praised both squads for their application throughout the season.

“For the girls involved with this team, and the senior team, they push each other on the whole time. They’re role models for any young girls to be honest. Their work-rate, their effort, throughout the whole year, is outstanding.

“Days like today is fantastic for them, and in particular the girls coming through minor as well, winning All-Irelands. It’s great for Cork camogie in general,” O’Sullivan added.

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All-Ireland Intermediate Camogie Championship Final: Cork V Down – Story Of The Game – The Evening Echo – September 10 2018

Story of the Game

Daire Walsh

SCORE OF THE MATCH: As well as being a pivotal score, Caitriona Collins’ 41st-minute goal was also the most eye-catching of the day. After Finola Neville’s blistering run initially placed Down on the back-foot, the Ballinhassig forward fired emphatically beyond the reach of Maria McNally.

REFEREE WATCH: Westmeath referee John Dermody had a relatively quiet afternoon, until he gave Down’s Sara-Louise Carr her marching orders on 49 minutes. It seemed like a harsh call at the time, but the Ulster outfit’s challenge was already starting to fade.

TURNING POINT: With Down storming back on the restart, Collins (2) and the understated Caroline Sugrue registered three points without reply to created daylight for Cork.

KEY PLAYER: Saoirse McCarthy was a deserving recipient of the player of the match award. The Courcey Rovers ace finished with an impressive personal tally of 0-4.

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All-Ireland Intermediate Camogie Championship Final: Cork V Down – Three Reasons Why Cork Won – The Evening Echo – 10 September 2018

Three reasons Cork were victorious at Croker

Daire Walsh

Heartbreak of previous final defeats

Since defeating Galway to claim the 2006 crown, it has been a long road back to the intermediate promised land for Cork. Three final reversals on the bounce followed that particular success, while they came off second-best to Kilkenny and Meath (replay) in the past two seasons. The pain of these showpiece reversals was a key motivating factor on their path back to yesterday’s final and it helped them to eventually overcome the challenge posed by the Mourne county.

Scoring prowess of Collins and McCarthy

Although Cork’s mean defence ensured that they went through the whole championship without conceding a goal, they also possessed a clinical streak in attack. Caitriona Collins and Saoirse McCarthy blossomed all the way through the contest, registering a combined haul of 1-10 for the Leesiders. With Down struggling for scores beyond the first quarter, they created a sizeable gap between the teams with a series of fine scores.

Emphatic response to early Down surge

When they trailed by three points, 0-5 to 0-2, with 16 minutes gone, the mental strength of this Cork squad was truly put to the test. However, thanks to five points in succession, they had swung the pendulum back in their favour by the end of the opening period. Even though Down levelled matters on the restart, Paudie Murray’s side had developed an attacking rhythm that they maintained for the remainder of the action.

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All-Ireland Intermediate Camogie Championship Final: Cork V Down – The Evening Echo – September 10 2018

Intermediate side dig deep for victory

CAMOGIE

CORK………………………………….1-13

DOWN…………………………………..0-9

Daire Walsh

PLAYER of the match Saoirse McCarthy and Caitriona Collins registered a combined tally of 1-10 at Croke Park yesterday to propel Cork towards their first All-Ireland Intermediate Championship title since 2006.

Following heartbreaking final defeats to Kilkenny and Meath (replay) in the past two seasons, the Leesiders overcame a shaky opening at Jones’ Road to get the better of Down in a competitive affair.

Trailing by three points in the 16th minute, Cork dug deep to ultimately bring a 0-7 to 0-5 cushion into the interval. Even though Down remained in contention on the resumption, a third-quarter goal from Collins meant that Cork, who like their senior counterparts are managed by Paudie Murray, brought their 12-year wait for a second-tier crown to a convincing end.

After Down had broken the deadlock early on through Sara-Louise Carr – daughter of two-time All-Ireland winner Ross – and Saoirse Sands, Cork responded with a brace of McCarthy points.

The dependable Niamh Mallon (two) and Paula Gribben fired over at the opposite end to leave Cork staring into a 0-2 to 0-5 deficit, and consequently place their mental resolve under intense scrutiny.

It was during this juncture in the play that Collins really came into her own, though. In addition a routine free on the stroke of 20 minutes, the Ballinhassig attacker was also on target when Down netminder Maria McNally batted away a Laura Hayes delivery.

With their northern rivals losing a grip around the middle third, Cork were ready to turn the game on its head. Collins restored parity with her fourth of the tie and, thanks to additional contributions by Caroline Sugrue and McCarthy, they were in a position of strength for the beginning of the second period.

Eager to make their first final appearance at this grade a memorable one, Down quickly cancelled out Cork’s lead with back-to-back points from Mallon (free) and Sands. Yet, just when the sides appeared to be delicately poised, the Rebelettes recorded 1-3 without reply to effectively put the outcome beyond doubt.

The dynamic inside duo of Collins (two) and Sugrue built momentum with white-flag efforts, before Finola Neville’s powerful surge through the heart of the Down defence set up Collins for a cool finish into the bottom right-hand corner.

An Aimee McAleenan point closed the gap slightly, but when Carr was dismissed for a second yellow-card offence on 49 minutes, the prospect of a late fightback by the Mourne had effectively evaporated.

Cork conceded a paltry 0-38 in their six games en route to this decider, and skipper Sarah Harrington once again marshalled a formidable Cork rearguard. She kept tabs on Fionnuala Carr for much of the action and it was the Down captain who cancelled out McCarthy’s fourth of the day inside the final quarter.

Collins had brought her personal haul up to 1-6, but passed on free-taking duties to substitute Cliona Healy in the 56th minute. The Aghabullogue star effortlessly stroked between the uprights to bring the curtain down on a thoroughly-deserved Cork triumph.

Scorers for Cork: Caitriona Collins 1-6 (0-4f), Saoirse McCarthy 0-4, Caroline Sugrue 0-2, Cliona Healy 0-1 (f).

Scorers for Down: Niamh Mallon 0-3 (1f), Saoirse Sands 0-2, Fionnuala Carr (f), Paula Gribben, Sara-Louise Carr, Aimee McAleenan 0-1 each.

CORK: Amy Lee; Niamh Ní Chaoimh, Sarah Harrington, Jennifer Barry; Lauren Callanan, Leah Weste, Siobhan Hutchinson; Sarah Buckley, Katelyn Hickey; Laura Hayes, Finola Neville, Saoirse McCarthy; Caroline Sugrue, Maeve McCarthy, Caitríona Collins.

Subs: Cliona Healy for M McCarthy (39), Rachel O’Callaghan for Sugrue (60), Roisin Killeen for Callanan (62).

DOWN: Maria McNally; Nicole Kelly, Alannah Savage, Clare McGilligan; Bláinaid Savage, Dearbhla Magee, Catherine Rocks; Deirbhile Savage, Paula Gribben; Sara-Louise Carr, Niamh Mallon, Aimee McAleenan; Orlagh Caldwell, Fionnuala Carr, Saoirse Sands.

Subs: Orla Gribben for Magee (14-28, blood), O Gribben for Caldwell (30), Clara Cowan for McGilligan (52).

Referee: John Dermody (Westmeath).

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Dublin Senior ‘A’ Hurling Championship Group Two: Kilmacud Crokes V Na Fianna – The Evening Herald – September 8 2018

CROKES TRIUMPH ASSURES TOP SPOT FINISH

DUBLIN SHC GROUP 2

KILMACUD CROKES………………………………….0-20

NA FIANNA………………………………………………1-14

Daire Walsh

KILMACUD Crokes claimed top spot in Group Two of the Dublin Senior ‘A’ Hurling Championship with an impressive triumph over Na Fianna at Parnell Park last night.

Fergal Whitely and Mark Howard were in fine form throughout, as Anthony Daly’s charges got the better of their northside counterparts. Even though both sides were already assured of a place in the knockout rounds, this loss will nevertheless come as a set-back to Na Fianna.

When the two sides met in Division One of the Adult Hurling League back at the end of July, Crokes squeezed through with three points to spare (0-18 to 0-15). Centre-forward Whitely broke the deadlock for Crokes on this occasion with a second-minute point, before Na Fianna moved into the ascendancy courtesy of back-to-back efforts from Colin Currie.

Though Whitely and Mark Howard offered a considerable physical for Crokes, there was little to separate the sides in the opening-quarter. Dublin senior footballer Conor McHugh was a notable presence in the Na Fianna attack, but it was Currie who continued to be their primary source for scores.

He cancelled out an Oisin O’Rourke point for their southside opponents, in advanced of traded efforts between Whitely and Conor Kelly. Lorcan McMullan and Howard (free) were on target either side of Currie’s fourth point – keeping Crokes on level terms with their fellow challengers.

Yet, it was during this juncture in the play that the six-time champions truly found their attacking rhythm. Three points without reply though Ronan Hayes, Whitely and Sean McGrath significantly bolstered their prospects.

Na Fianna briefly halted their momentum with an AJ Murphy score, only for Whitely, McMullen and Howard to enhance their own personal tallies at the tail end of intricate attacking moves. After securing a league final spot with victory over St Vincent’s last Saturday, the Glasnevin outfit were now struggling to get a grip in the middle-third.

Currie and Paul O’Dea split the posts from distance to keep them in the reckoning, but thanks to additional contributions by the central axis of Howard and Whitely, Crokes entered the interval with a five-point buffer (0-13 to 0-8).

Wary of a backlash by Na Fianna, Crokes maintained their second-quarter momentum on the restart. Despite losing the O’Carrolls – Bill and Ross – to injury, McMullen, O’Rourke, Caolan Conway and Howard all found the range in quick succession.

Currie’s 0-2 salvo released some of the pressure on Na Fianna, though Corcoran reinforced Crokes’ superiority with a superb long-range strike. A potential lifeline then arrived for the Mobhi Road brigade on the three-quarter mark, when Matt Collins hauled down Murphy inside the square.

However, after the dependable netminder turned away Donal Burke’s subsequent effort, it looked like Na Fianna would have to settle for a second-place finish.

Crokes’ eight-point lead – 0-20 to 0-12 – on 52 minutes appeared to be an insurmountable, but there was enough time for a late Na Fianna surge. Following another Currie brace – bring his final haul to 0-11 – McHugh found the net deep into stoppage-time.

This ensured that Kilmacud were kept on their toes, though they ultimately came through with the 100 per cent record intact.

Scorers – Kilmacud Crokes: M Howard 0-6 (4f), F Whitely 0-5, L McMullan 0-3, O O’Rourke 0-2, N Corcoran, S McGrath, C Conway, R Hayes 0-1 each. Na Fianna: C Currie 0-11 (8f, 1 ’65), C McHugh 1-0, C Kelly, AJ Murphy, P O’Dea 0-1 each.

KILMACUD CROKES: M Collins; N Corcoran, B O’Carroll, J Clinton; R O’Carroll, R O’Dwyer, C MacGabhann; L McMullan, C Hayes; S McGrath, F Whitely, C Conway; O O’Rourke, M Howard, R Hayes. Subs: D Kelly for R O’Carroll (32), D Butler for B O’Carroll (38), M Roche for Conway (41), A Considine for C Hayes (56), B O’Rourke for McGrath (58).

NA FIANNA: J Tracey; S Burke, M Quilty, C Kelly; D Malleady, O Malleady, P Feeney; P Buggy, F Breathnach; C McHugh, AJ Murphy, P O’Dea; S O’Sullivan, D Burke, C Currie. Subs: S Currie for O’Sullivan (h-t).

Referee: Sean Stack (Parnell’s).

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Dublin Senior ‘A’ Hurling Championship Group Two: Whitehall Colmcille V Naomh Fionnbarra – The Evening Herald – September 8 2018

Sheedy and O’Donnell guide Whitehall to victory

DUBLIN SHC GROUP 2

WHITEHALL COLMCILLE……………………………4-20

NAOMH FIONNBARRA……………………………….2-14

Daire Walsh

CONOR Sheedy and Niall O’Donnell registered two goals apiece at Parnell Park last night as Whitehall Colmcille retained their Senior Hurling Championship status with a convincing triumph against Naomh Fionnbarra.

Although a slender interval cushion ensured that their eventual win wasn’t always set in stone, the scoring prowess of Sheedy and O’Donnell guided them over the line – and consequently sent Fionnbarra into a forthcoming relegation semi-final.

Fresh from his appearance in last Sunday’s Sam Maguire success over Tyrone, Cormac Costello was listed on the substitutes’ bench for Whitehall. After Sean Gray and Cathal Ryan traded scores with Fionnbarra duo Ryan Curley and Christopher O’Brien. Sheedy’s superb individual goal helped the Collins Avenue men to create early daylight.

Following additional scores from Gray (two), Lee Gannon (two) and Patrick Spellacy, Sheedy rattled the net for a second time on 19 minutes. With a 10-point advantage (2-9 to 0-5) already at their disposal, Whitehall were primed to push on for the remainder of the half.

However, after Dillon re-ignited their challenge with a superb three-point finish, Pierce O’Brien added another goal to leave Fionnbarra just two points in arrears (2-11 to 2-9) at the break.

The gap was then reduced to the bare minimum by Christopher O’Brien on the resumption, but by the end of the third-quarter, Whitehall had once again assumed firm control on the scoreboard. Nine minutes into the half, O’Donnell profited from Niall O’Connor’s excellent approach work to fire beyond the reach of Lar Sweetman.

O’Donnell’s second goal – his side’s fourth – then placed them back into a seemingly unassailable position, ahead of Costello’s introduction on 46 minutes. Though Dillon continued to fly the flag for Fionnbarra, a brace of points by the five-time Celtic Cross winner raised the decibel levels in the Donnycarney stand.

Gray’s dead-ball accuracy gave him a haul of 0-10, but it was fitting that Sheedy brought the curtain down on Whitehall’s success with a stoppage-time point.

Scorers – Whitehall Colmcille: S Gray 0-10 (8f), C Sheedy 2-1, N O’Donnell 2-0, P Spellacy 0-3, L Gannon, C Ryan, C Costello 0-2 each. Naomh Fionnbarra: E Dillon 1-6 (0-5f), R Curley 0-4, P O’Brien 1-0, C O’Brien 0-2, A Milne, C Carberry 0-1 each.

WHITEHALL COLMCILLE: C Cummins; N Molloy, D Constantine, S Kellett; L McCarthy, D Gray, S Scallan; L Gannon, E McKeown; N O’Connor, C Sheedy, S Gray; Cathal Ryan, N O’Donnell, P Spellacy. Subs: S Power for Ryan (6-12, blood), C Costello for Ryan (46), Cormac Ryan for Scallan, C McCarthy for O’Connor (both 55), M Noonan for Spellacy (57).

NAOMH FIONNBARRA: L Sweetman; B Owens, J Fitzsimons, C Peppard Leonard; Ger Dodrill, T O’Neill, A Milne; D Curley, Glen Dodrill; C Carberry, A Costello, R Curley; P O’Brien, E Dillon, C O’Brien. Subs: J Roe for P O’Brien, D Owens for O’Neill (both 47).

Referee: PJ Murray (St Finian’s, Swords).

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Rugby Column Number 122: The Kildare Nationalist – 4 September 2018

Contrasting fortunes for Kildare players on provincial duty

RUGBY

By Daire Walsh

IT was a winning start to the new Guinness PRO14 season for Leinster on Friday night as they emerged from a high-encountered against Cardiff Blues with one point to spare (33-32).

Despite trailing for the vast majority of the contest at Cardiff Arms Park, a late try courtesy of replacement Bryan Byrne helped Leo Cullen’s men to come through by the skin of their teeth. While a host of front-line internationals were absent for the visit to the Welsh capital, the former lock was able to call on a great deal of experience for this seasonal opener.

Alongside Dave Kearney and Barry Daly in the back-three, Adam Byrne was offered a chance to impress. Indeed, following an early injury to Daly, the Kill man was joined by Suncfort’s Fergus McFadden in a potentially-explosive Leinster defence.

A lot of the pre-match focus was on new recruit Joseph Tomane, but it was also a big game for fly-half Ross Byrne – who is expected to be the main alternative to Jonathan Sexton in light of Joey Carbery’s departure to Munster.

In a pack that was spearheaded by new vice-captain Rhys Ruddock, James Tracy (another native of Kill) was a notable inclusion in the Leinster front-row. After Ross Byrne had narrowed the gap in response to Cardiff building up an early eight-point cushion, Tracy crossed over to move Leinster back on level terms.

A McFadden penalty edged the holders into the ascendancy for the first time, only for Jason Harries to pounce for a converted score at the opposite end. Yet, determined to finish the opening half on a high, Ross Byrne nailed a stoppage-time place-kick to leave the bare minimum between the teams (15-14) during the interval.

However, when Harries and Rey Lee-Lo claimed their second tries for Cardiff on the resumption, Leinster were staring down the barrell of an opening day defeat.

Bryan Byrne re-ignited their challenge with a try on 52 minutes, though, and this was eventually supplemented by another five-pointer from Jamison Gibson-Park. While Jarrod Evans eased the pressure on Cardiff with an ice-cool penalty, Leinster were primed for a final assault inside their ’22’.

Following an extended spell of attacking play, Ross Byrne added a conversion on top of a second try for his namesake Bryan to give Leinster a precious triumph.

It was a memorable debut for the aforementioned Carbery on Saturday in Thomond Park, where Munster recorded a comprehensive 38-0 win over the Toyota Cheetahs. The Athy man was greeted with rapturous applause upon his second half introduction and he played his part in an accomplished display by the Red Army. Meanwhile, there was disappointment for Craig Ronaldson (Ballymore Eustace) and Connacht in their clash with Glasgow Warriors at the Sportsground on the same day.

At the end of a titanic battle, Ronaldson saw his long-distance penalty rebounding off the post – which meant the western province lost out on a final scoreline of 27-26.

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FAI Women’s Intermediate Cup Final Follow-Up Piece: Wilton United Captain Susan McCarthy – The Evening Echo – 4 September 2018

McCarthy revels in cup swansong

WOMEN’S SOCCER

Daire Walsh

WILTON UNITED striker Susan McCarthy was offered the perfect send-off in north Dublin on Sunday afternoon, when she played her part in the Cork club’s outstanding FAI Women’s Intermediate Cup final triumph over Whitehall Rangers.

Thanks to an 84th-minute goal courtesy of Shaunagh McCarthy, Wilton squeezed past Whitehall to claim their first title at this grade since 2012.

After she missed out on that particular success, McCarthy was thrilled to finally reach the holy grail in her final season with the club – which she admits wouldn’t have been possible without the support of her husband Paul.

“It’s going to be my last season. They made me captain for today, so I’m honoured for that. I didn’t have an intermediate cup medal at all. It’s my first one and I get to retire with that,” McCarthy remarked.

“I missed 2012, I was pregnant with my first child. I was watching from the sidelines. I missed out on that medal. Without the support of my husband Paul at home, I wouldn’t be able to put in the commitment I have down through the years.”

Whitehall proved to be worthy adversaries on the day and extra-time was a more than realistic possibility until Wilton produced a winning goal in the closing stages. For McCarthy, the key to their eventual 1-0 victory was a desire to play in a constructive fashion – something that was exemplified by player of the match Laura Lynch.

“They [Whitehall] gave us a very tough game, without a doubt. We knew once we got the ball on the ground and just start playing it to feet that we would be able to make a goal of it. Thankfully Shaunagh ended up putting it into the back of the net.

“Laura played absolutely fantastic. Deserved player of the match. Even when Erica [O’Sullivan] dropped into the middle in the second half, they controlled it very well and spread the ball very well for us. We’re very strong all throughout the team, from the backs up to the forwards.”

Though the experience of McCarthy and midfielder Barbara O’Connell was crucial on their path to this decider, there is a strong blend of the young and the old within the Wilton ranks.

With so much work going into the development of their underage system, McCarthy believes they have the perfect mixture at the moment.

“Definitely. I’d say it was about four or five years ago there where the younger ones started coming up from the U16s. We had a good group of them coming up at the one time and that definitely cemented us. Because the mixture in the team with the youth and the experience, it’s definitely was has helped us throughout the whole season. It’s an advantage without a doubt.”

As she examined the joyous scenes of her team-mates in the aftermath of a compelling contest, McCarthy acknowledged it will be difficult to walk away from such a tight-knit group.

“Yeah but sure look, these are memories we’re going to have for life. It’s going to be very, very hard to leave behind. I’ll probably be crying!” McCarthy said.

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Post-Match Reaction: FAI Women’s Intermediate Cup Final – Wilton United Pat Bowdren – The Evening Echo – September 3 2018

Midfield trio took control for Cork side

REACTION

Daire Walsh

WILTON United manager, Pat Bowdren, believes a much-improved second-half performance was the key to their FAI Women’s Intermediate Cup success against Whitehall Rangers yesterday afternoon.

While the Leesiders were well in contention at the end of a scoreless opening period, at Home Farm FC, the midfield trio of Laura Lynch, Barbara O’Sullivan, and Erica O’Sullivan ensured that they got a firm grip on the play.

This culminated in a 84th-minute winner from Wilton winger, Shaunagh McCarthy, making Bowdren a very proud coach, in the aftermath of a tense encounter.

“We only really got one chance. It was very tight. They were very tense in the first-half. In the second-half, I thought we played good football. I think that our bit of class showed through,” Bowdren explained.

“It was a great goal out of Shaunagh, but our midfield were the lynchpins in the second-half. Laura Lynch, Barbara O’Connell, and Erica O’Sullivan, they kind of changed the game in the second-half for us.”

In an attempt to place the shackles on Whitehall, Bowdren introduced Roisin O’Connell and Michelle Browne to the Wilton line-up on the restart. Despite acknowledging it was a tough decision to withdraw Amy Bowdren (his niece) and midfielder Lauren Murphy, he ultimately saw it as a necessary step on the road to glory.

“Young Amy was on the right-hand side. It was her first final and she was a bit nervous.

“The other girl in the middle, Lauren Murphy, is a good player. It just wasn’t happening for her today. She was playing okay, but I just had to juggle it up a small bit.

“Sometimes, when people think you’re taking them off, it’s because they’re playing bad.

“There are times when you have to say ‘look, can I make this better’. You’ve got to make that decision, as well.”

2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Wilton United’s formation.

The side were wearing six stars of their shirt to signify the number of FAI Cups they had secured at all levels, which they will have to alter from next season onwards.

“This is 50 years now in the club. We have six stars on our shirt. That’s for winning FAI Cups. We’ll have to get a new set of jerseys.

“We’ll have to put another star on it! As you can see, the girls are overjoyed.

“The only final we lost was the FAI Cup senior. We’ve won this three times, which is grand. It’s great,” a jubilant Bowdren added.

Posted in League Of Ireland, Women's Soccer | Comments Off on Post-Match Reaction: FAI Women’s Intermediate Cup Final – Wilton United Pat Bowdren – The Evening Echo – September 3 2018

FAI Women’s Intermediate Cup Final: Wilton United V Whitehall Rangers – The Evening Echo – September 3 2018

McCarthy leaves it late for Wilton

INTERMEDIATE CUP

Daire Walsh

WILTON UNITED………………………………..1

WHITEHALL RANGERS………………………..0

A DRAMATIC 84th minute finish from Shaunagh McCarthy helped Wilton United to overcome the stubborn challenge of Whitehall Rangers at Home Farm FC yesterday afternoon and claim the FAI Women’s Intermediate Cup for the third time in their history.

With clear-cut opportunities proving to be few and far between throughout, the prospect of extra-time loomed large in the north Dublin venue. However, when McCarthy was picked out in an advanced position, she fired beyond the reach of Whitehall netminder Grace McAuley Ryan to swing the tie in Wilton’s favour.

Although their Metropolitan counterparts were playing close to their home patch, Wilton never allowed the occasion to get the better of them. Player of the match Laura Lynch offered considerable protection to the back three of Deirdre Callanan, Zoe Murphy, and Eimear Roantree, while the experienced Barbara O’Connell linked up effectively with Lauren Murphy in central midfield.

Slightly tentative during the early exchanges, Wilton became more of a threat in the final third. When the lively McCarthy was released in space on the left wing, she was presented with a clear run into the Whitehall half.

Her eventual shot drifted past the far post, though it did serve as a signal of their attacking intent. Wilton’s quest for a breakthrough continued into the latter stages of the half – and they were close to unlocking the Rangers defence in stoppage-time.

Susan McCarthy (the captain of the side in her final game for the club) moved the ball out wide towards Shaunagh McCarthy, but she was once again off-target at an awkward left-hand angle.

With so much at stake on the day, Wilton manager Pat Bowdren decided that reinforcements were required heading into a crucial second half. Roisin O’Connell and Michelle Browne entered the fray for Amy Bowdren (niece of Pat) and Lauren Murphy, respectively, and with the acton becoming more frantic, cool heads were required at both ends of the pitch.

Lynch continued to take the game by the scruff of the neck, cutting off the supply line to the Whitehall front-line at every available opportunity. The lively Charlene Graham kept Wilton custodian Allie Ashley on her toes with a curling free-kick, but she cut an isolated figure as the half progressed.

Whitehall defended heroically at times, though, and they denied space to Roisin O’Connell and Browne inside the area on a couple of occasions. Indeed, in spite of the pressure that Wilton were exerting on them, John Morgan’s side looked set to hold out.

They didn’t count on the intervention of Shaunagh McCarthy as she conjured up a goal that will live long in the memory of Wilton’s loyal supporter base. Whereas most players would have passed up an opportunity to shot from a distance of 30m on the right flank, the tireless McCarthy had something else in mind.

The flight of her left-footed drive completely deceived Ryan and drifted spectacularly into the back of the net with just six minutes remaining.

McCarthy was close to doubling her side’s advantage on 87 minutes, only for Ryan to spare Whitehall’s blushes with a point-blank stop. This signalled a late push for an equaliser, but Wilton held firm to record a magnificent triumph.

WILTON UNITED: Allie Ashley; Deirdre Callanan, Zoe Murphy, Eimear Roantree; Laura Lynch; Amy Bowdren (Roisin O’Connell 46), Barbara O’Connell, Lauren Murphy (Michelle Browne 46), Shaunagh McCarthy (Jenny Coughlan 89); Susan McCarthy (Catherine Cooke 69), Erica O’Sullivan.

WHITEHALL RANGERS: Grace McAuley Ryan; Natasha Graham, Amy Henry, Jennifer Kett (Sinead O’Kelly 86), Niamh O’Doherty; Aileen O’Brien, Rachel McLoughlin, Rosie Doyle (Michelle McCain 61), Helen Cooney (Ann Marie Keegan 56); Michelle Walls (Debbie Burnett 46), Charlene Graham.

 

Referee: Claire Purcell.

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