Ulster Intermerdiate Club Final
St Joseph’s Glenavy 2-11
There was bitter disappointment for St. Joseph’s Glenavy in Carrickmore on Saturday but when that disappointment abates the Chapel Hill girls can hold their heads high and look back on what has been a magnificent season.
Two years ago it was Steelstown who were feeling the same disappointment as they lost by the narrowest of margins to Kinawley in the Ulster decider and on Saturday it was Glenavy who felt the same emotions but what an effort they put in.
Caoimhe O’Kane set up Dara McKeever who got Steelstown off the mark with a point in the opening minute and O’Kane would go on to have a major impact on the final outcome.
Emma Doherty followed with a second and Aoife Collins moved the Derry champions three ahead as Glenavy took time to settle and the Chapel Hill side were in need of a score to settle early nerves.
It arrived when Grainne McLaughlin collected a long delivery and the Antrim county player left several defenders in her wake before powering through for the game’s opening goal and levelling the contest in the 10th minute.
This score brought Glenavy and McLaughlin to life and the excellent centre half forward added two quick points to move her side two ahead, much to the approval of the large Orange clad support who had made the journey to Carrickmore
Steelstown were struggling to deal with the pace of the Glenavy attack as Ellen Morgan finished off another clinical move, before a free from McGeough put a halt on the St Josepeh’s onslaught.
Steelstown regrouped and began to take possession on a difficult surface but they were having serious problems containing a lively Glenavy attack as Grainne McLaughlin fired over to restore the Antrim girls three point lead.
It was underdogs Glenavy who were now calling the tune and defying the odds as they continued to edge the exchanges but a late point from McGeough lifted the Steelstown mood as they headed to the dressing room at the end of a half where they were very much second best.
The feel good factor for the Antrim champions continued on the restart as McLaughlin pointed a free to restore St. Joseph’s three point advantage but they were hit with a cruel blow soon after as Caoimhe O’Kane got on the end of a speculative delivery from Kathy Holly to finish to the net from close range and the Derry champions were back on level terms.
It was end to end stuff at this stage of the contest as Grainne McLaughlin and Orla McGeough exchanged further points but Glenavy were relieved when Aoife Collins looked in for a goal but fluffed her lines and Ciara McGurk fired wide from the follow up with the goal at her mercy.
With just over ten minutes remaining, McGeough pointed to give Steelstown the lead for the first time since early in the game but Glenavy had the scent of victory in their nostrils and Ellen Morgan split the posts at the other end to tie the contest once more.
McLaughlin then pointed the girls in Orange ahead from a free from a difficult angle and the stage was set for a barn storming finish as McGeough responded with a Steelestown point to level matters once more at 1-8 apiece.
The Glenavy support were in fine voice as Aoibheann Monaghan moved the Antrim champions ahead again with a point in injury time and the Steelstown dream looked to have been shattered once more.
The Cup looked to be heading to Chapel Hill but there would be one last twist in this enthralling contest and Steelstown worked the ball forward into the danger area and were awarded a free that McGeough calmly fired over to send the game to extra time.
Bitter disappointment for St. Joseph’s and it looked like the momentum had swung in favour of Steelstown as they started overtime on the front foot as substitute, Leah McGonagle gave them an early lead and when Dara McKeever got in behind the Glenavy defence to fire to the net it looked over.
McGeough and McGonagle extend the Steelstown lead to six and only the most optimistic would have given the Antrim champions a chance but Glenavy quite simply would not throw in the towel.
They replied with a couple of points and Ellen Morgan gave them a glimmer of hope when she fired past Molly McBride in the Steelstown goals to close the gap to one with virtually the last kick of the game but time was not on their side and it was the girls from Derry City who put two years of disappointment behind them as they celebrated at the final whistle.