McLaughlin inspires Glenavy victory

Antrim LGFA Junior Football Championship final

St Joseph’s, Glenavy 2-14 St John’s 4-6

Antrim’s Grainne McLaughlin was the star of the show as St. Joseph’s Glenavy defeated St. John’s in an entertaining Ladies Junior Football Championship final at St. Enda’s today.

The county star kicked an incredible 13 points on the day and proved a real handful for the St. John’s defence to lead her side to victory,

Eibhlín Morgan was another to impress for the Chapel Hill girls, scoring two goals on the day and giving the opposition plenty to think about over the hour.

St John’s had some fine performances too, with late replacement Toni Leigh Finnegan contributing 2-3 and justifying her selection while Natasha Clarke added two goals, but their efforts were to be in vain.

St. John’s looked in a strong position when they led by three points, ten minutes into the second half after trailing by eight at one stage but Glenavy produced a strong finish to win by two points with McLaughlin leading the way.

The South West side got off to a fast start and Ebhlin Morgan got them on their way when her dipping shot ended in the Johnnies net.

St John’s recovered well from this early setback with Duibheasa O’Reilly finishing a fine move with a good point and then Finnegan opened her account with an excellent score from a tight angle on the left.

At this stage Grainne McLaughlin began to exercise her influence on proceedings as she sent over a couple of points from play and added another from a free before sending over from a tricky angle to push her side five clear.

Megan McGarry intercepted from the resulting kick-out and raced through on goal but was dragged down in the penalty area with Morgan stepping up and making no mistake with a low shot into the corner of the net to make it 2-4 to 0-2 after 10 minutes.

St John’s badly needed a response and three minutes later they got it with Toni Leigh Finnegan playing a superb ball into Natasha Clarke whose first shot was well saved by Orlagh Mullin, but the rebound fell kindly and Clarke side-footed to the net.

McLaughlin replied for the Chapel Hill girls with another brace from play to put seven between the teams, but St John’s began to enjoy a bit of success and Clarke collected a fine pass from Duibheasa O’Reilly and found space before firing to the net.

Finnegan and McLaughlin traded scores before Cora Burns cut through to point and cut the gap to three and the Johnnies struck again just before half time as Finnegan’s shot on goal was saved, but the rebound came off a Glenavy hand and the ball crossed the line to level the contest.

A McLaughlin free edged Glenavy one ahead as the half time whistle sounded, but St. John’s were right back in contention.

After McLaughlin extended the gap to two with another fine score just after the break, the Johnnies struck with a vengeance to grab the lead on 35 minutes as O’Reilly’s shot for a point dropped short but Finnegan beat Mullin in the race for possession to palm into the net.

Finnegan added a point immediately and on 39 minutes, St John’s almost had a fifth goal when Clarke’s shot came back off the post and cleared to safety but O’Reilly got in for a point after winning possession.

St John’s looked in a strong position as they led 4-6 to 2-9 at this stage but they failed to score again and Glenavy turned the screw in the closing stages as they slowly but surely reel in the opposition.

McLaughlin replied with a point but a further ten minutes had elapsed before she would add another from a free on 51 minutes.

With just one between them, now it was Glenavy on the front foot and for once, McLaughlin was the provider as she set up substitute Lilly Ní Corráin who fired over the equaliser.

St John’s were now defending in depth as Glenavy pushed forward forward and Grainne McLaughlin converted a 26th minute free to give her side the lead before adding another converted free in stoppage time.

There was still time for St John’s to respond bu t while they gave it everything they could find no way through a determined Glenavy defence.

GLENAVY: O Mullin; M McStravick, M Bradley, E McCartney; A Nic Ambrois, C Scannell, B Forester; N O’Neill, A Mulholland; O Mac Alastair, G McLaughlin (0-13, 5 frees), M McGarry; G Fallon, E Morgan (2-0, 1 pen), A McStravick. 

Subs: L Ní Corráin (0-1) for E McCartney (45), C Mag Fhearaigh for F Fallon (48).

ST JOHN’S: A Hesketh; C Carleton, S Boyle, SJ McGuigan; N McArdle, O Cardwell, E Boyd; M Mulholland, D O’Reilly (0-2); TL Finnegan (2-3), C Hamill, C Burns (0-1); N Clarke (2-0), D Boyd, M Laverty.

Subs: N Hamill for D Boyd (HT), L Adams for M Mulholland (38), A Quinn for E Boyd (46).

REFEREE: Gerard Dougan (Creggan)

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