Photographs: Bert Trowlen
Kennedy Centre Ladies Junior football final
Naomh Pol 1-7 Creggan 0-6
Naomh Pol junior ladies team brought the Antrim junior title back to Shaw’s Road after a keenly contested final against Creggan at Slemish Park yesterday. A four point win for the young Belfast side on a glorious day at All Saints Ballymena was hard earned as the girls were a point adrift of their south West rivals at half time.
It took five minutes for the first score of the game to be registered as both teams looked nervous and took a while to settle into their game. St Pauls 14 year old full forward Cara Mervyn was first to score after a good delivery from Orlagh McCall. Mervyn rifled the net to set her team on their way. Creggan’s Eimear McCartney responded 2 minutes later pointing from a 21m free. For the next quarter Creggan looked to be on top as they continued to press the St Pauls defence, however, they found it difficult to register any scores with some wayward shooting on no less than 5 occasions. A 15th minute point from play from midfielder Catherine Hegarty was the break through Creggan needed to give them the impetus to drive on and a further 3 points from Ciara McCollum and Fiona Maguire edged the Staffordstown Road girls ahead by two points. As they continued to pressure St Paul’s a major looked certain as a well worked move saw McCollum go one on one with St Paul’s Aisling McGaughey who pulled off a miraculous save to keep her side in the game. St Paul’s then went on the attack and a point from corner forward Rebecca McGivern on 22nd minute gave her side a much-needed lift having not scored since the 5th minute. Both sides continued to attack without any returns for their efforts.
Half time score Creggan 0.05 v St Paul’s 1.01.
St Pauls made 3 changes at half time bringing on the experienced Colleen Doherty, Caitlin McHugh and another 15 year old in impressive form this season, Kerry McConville. The Shaw’s Road girls were first to strike and registered a score from Orlagh McCall on the 31st minute to draw the teams level. Once again Creggan players were finding it difficult to put the ball between the posts, continuing to register wides. At the other end of the pitch Mervyn added to her major in the first half with a well taken point. St Paul’s pushed on and a quick free from Siobhan Bell to find Doherty resulted in another point for the Belfast side. Two minutes later a perfect ball from Abbey Dahunsi found Bell who caught the Creggan keeper off her line to register a major. This 46th minute score was to be the last for the Belfast girls as they defended tenaciously with great interceptions from Meabh Finnegan and Eimear Burns to thwart Creggans chances of scoring. Creggan were to score their only point in the second half on the 54th minute from McCartney.
Creggan will feel that they let this one slip away from them and but for a string of wides the South West side could have been bringing the title back to the Staffordstown Road.
St Pauls now go on to represent Antrim in the Ulster Junior Championship where they travel to Lavey the Cavan champions.