Naomh Pol Reclaim Ulster Title after 10 year wait

Ulster Ladies Intermediate Club Football final

Naomh Pol 3-11 Kinawley 1-12 (AET)

Naomh Pol ladies headed to Emyvale Co. Monaghan for a chance at lifting an Ulster title, a title that they last won a distant decade ago. Whilst dominating Antrim for the last 10 years the Naomh Pol ladies found it difficult to successfully compete in Ulster senior and relished this opportunity when the county was regraded to intermediate status. Their opponents Brian Boru, Kinawley have been Ulster finalists for the past three years with the minimal of margins denying them glory in 2018.

The Fermanagh champions struck first in the opening minute from Fermanagh captain Aisling Doonan, who incidentally has just signed a contract to play AFLW this incoming season with Carlton Blues.  Naomh Pol counter attacked with a quick ball into Kirsty McGuinness who was being attentively marshalled by two Kinawley defenders. Mc Guinness proved difficult to handle and could only be stopped by being dragged down in the small square. McGuinness’ calm composure sent the ball past net minder Aine Haren to put the Shaw’s Road girls ahead. A point at the opposite end of the pitch from half forwards Niamh McManus and Lisa Maguire brought the game level again within the opening 5 minutes. Naomh Pol playing into a strong wind with accompanying hailstones, kept pushing forward. A long ball into the danger zone from Naomh Pol’s Lara Dahunsi was palmed down by Kinawley keeper onto a predating Fionnghuala Rocks who claimed Naomh Pol’s second goal in 6 minutes. There was an exchange of points from both sides over the course of the next quarter from Kinawley’s Maguire, Shauna Malanophy and Naomh Pol’s McGuinness and player of the match Niamh Enright. A breakdown in communication in Naomh Pol’s defence was exploited as Doonan netted the ball on 22nd minute to put them a point up. Enright was to level 4 minutes later. Coming up to the half time break disaster struck as Mc Guinness was controversially sin binned. Half time Naomh Pol 2.04 Kinawley 1.07

All square going into the second half, but Naomh Pol reduced to 14 players for 8 minutes carried over from the first half sin bin. The hard working Enright and Doonan continued to exchange scores for their teams. The introduction of the experienced Mairead Cooper on the 38th minute along with McGuinness being reinstated gave Naomh Pol the impetus to push on with the wind at their backs. Caoimhe Stewart, Maria Hanna and Lucy Wallace made some timely interceptions and soon the Belfast side opened a 3 point gap with 6 minutes remaining. However, Doonan and McManus levelled to force extra time.

Extra time Naomh Pol proved the fitter and stronger side as Cooper and McGuinness pointed to put their side up by 2 points going into the final period of extra time. McGuinness’ younger sister Caitlin also got her name on the score sheet. However, it was in the 72nd minute when team captain Aine Tubridy’s hand pass to Dahunsi created their third major. Dahunsi played a superbly picked out ball to Cooper who went one on one with Haren and netted to extend the Antrim champion’s lead. Sub Lauren Doonan and Danielle Maguire were to claim the only 2 points scored by Kinawley in the extra time period.

Final score Naomh Pol 3.11 Kinawley 1.12. Naomh Pol now face Connaught champions St Nathy’s Sligo in 2 weeks time.

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