All Saints hang on to earn a point as St. Paul’s come storming back

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Maria Sestakova, who scored 4-1 for All Saints breaks clear of the St. Paul’s defence

Ladies ACFL Division 2

All Saints 5-4  St. Paul’s 0-19

All Saints looked on their way to a comfortable victory in this division 2 clash at Quinn Park on Sunday evening when they raced into an early 3 goal lead with their ace forward Maria Sestakova leading the way. The flame haired forward struck her early hat-trick by the 13th minute and by this stage a total route of the Shaw’s Road side, who started with only 14 players looked on the cards.

Ever so slowly the visitors settled however and began to get their game together with Maria Hanna, Ciara Brown, Emer Rocks, Orlagh McCall and Tracey Kelly getting on top in their respective individual battles and it took some solid defensive play from Sinead Devine, Marnie O’Neill, Niamh McMahon and Lizzie McNicholl to deny them a goal at the other end.

St. Paul’s opened their account and a Siobhan Bell  point sent them on their way and points from Courtney Peoples, Orla McCall 0-2,  Siobhan Bell 0-2 Rebecca McGivern, and  Maria Hanna saw them eat significantly into the All Saints lead.

Significantly though Maria Sestakova and Anna Kearney breeched a porous St. Paul’s defence again before the break to leave the Ballymena girls leading 5-1 to 0-8 at the break and at this stage there was little indication of what was to unfold in the second half.

After the break it was a different story however as St. Paul’s assigned a marker to the dangerous Maria Sestakova but when Maria Goldring opened the second half scoring with a point for the home side there were little sign of the turnaround that was about to unfold.

The visitors responded with the next six points of the game as Maria Hanna, Orla McCall 0-2, Siobhan Bell, Emer Rocks and McCall again reeled in the All Saints lead as the visitors began to throw the ball around confidently and their of the ball running and support play began to expose large gaps in the home defence.

At this stage All Saints had lost their first half fluency and were too often giving the ball away or relying on long hopeful balls into their forward line and these were being repelled by a St. Paul’s defence in which 15 year old Caitlin Burns was outstanding.

Maria Sestakova had been well contained up to this point but was fouled as she took on the St. Paul’s defence with Maria Goldring sending over the resulting free and then the red haired Sestakova looked certain to put her side back in control as she raced clear on goal.

Maria lost the shackle of her marker and raced 30 yards with the ball on the ground before executing a lift at full speed but her shot cannoned over instead of under the bar.

Back came the visitors as Emer Rocks,  Orla McCall 0-2, Rebecca McGivern, Courtney  Peoples and Emer Rocks all on target as they totally dominated the closing exchanges to draw level and the Slemish Park girls were glad to hear the full time whistle.

Certainly a game of two halves with All Saints threatening to run away with it during the opening 30 minutes and they might well have had a couple more goals with Sinead Devine, Marnie O’Neill, Sarah McLoughlin, Anna Kearney, Maria Goldring, Maria Sestakova and Bronagh Shannon leading the way.

St. Paul’s remained composed however and with a few tweaks by manager Brian Coyle they came more and more into the game and could have won it in the end. Caitlin Burns, Ciara Brown, Emer Rocks, Orla McCall, Courtney Peoples, Rebecca McGivern and Siobhan Bell were the players who led this remarkable turnaround.

All Saints panel: Sinead Devine, Niamh McMahon, Marnie O’Neill, Lizzie McNicholl, Sinead McGarry, Katie Connolly, Ciara Devine, Sarah McLoughlin, Roisin Ward, Maria Goldring, Anna Kearney, Ailbhe McKeith, Maria Sestakova, Katie Little, Bronagh Shannon, Orla Killough, Aine McVeigh, Rachel Dorrity, Mollie O’Brien,

St. Pauls: Brianna Coyle, Caitlin Burns, Eimear Burns, Deirdre McShane, Maria Hanna, Laura O’Neill, Ciara Brown, Emer Rocks, Orlagh McCall, Tracey Kelly, Courtney Peoples, Nakita Murphy, Rebecca McGivern, Siobhan Bell.

Referee: Stephen Higgins (Tir na nOg)

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