Lacken girls are Cup queens

Report: Anthony Hennigan

Umbro FAI Schools Junior Girls Connacht Cup - Final

St Patrick’s, Lacken Cross 6 St Joseph’s, Summerhill 2

HER five second half goals were without doubt the key cause of St Patrick’s victory, yet there was much to admire about the performance of the winners than simply the virtuoso efforts of Aileen Gilroy:

Exchanging ends with a one/goal deficit to make up, and now faced by both breeze and wintry showers, Lacken Cross turned on the style to record an emphatic Connacht Final victory over Athlone opponents, St Joseph’s, Summerhill:

Indeed, had incessant first half pressure reaped the reward it deserved, the Mayo school’s winning margin might even have been more comfortable: Instead, it was the visitors who enjoyed a 2/1 half/time advantage, despite falling behind as early as the fifth minute:

Punishing an edge of the box foul on Republic of Ireland international Aileen Gilroy, fullback Elaine Lowther expertly curled the resulting free/kick into the bottom left corner of the St Joe’s goal to give Lacken’s ladies the perfect start:

Their celebrations were cut short within a minute however, as Kayley Dunning, racing down the right wing and on to a superb long/ball by Ciara Galvin, thumped the leather inside the near post to level matters:

The end/to/end nature of the contest was again reflected around the quarter hour mark: Galvin, in a one/on/one situation, was denied giving the Athlone students the lead when superbly foiled by goalkeeper Emma Loughney; Lacken Cross tore straight downfield only for Rachel Healy’s shot, from 20 yards, to whiz inches over the crossbar:

The 16th minute was still to fully elapse when St Joseph’s did hit the front courtesy of Gillian Egan: Quick to react to a misplaced header, the midfielder cut through the Lacken defence and coolly rolled the ball into the bottom right corner of the net:

Immediately from the restart, Aileen Gilroy nearly bagged St Patrick’s an equaliser only for her left footed effort to tail narrowly off target, similar misfor/tune in front of goal befell Sorcha McGee, Aoleann Collins and Niamh Collins before half/time, whilst Gilroy also seemed to have genuine claims for a penalty, in the 33rd minute, when clipped from behind by Ciara Dunning:

The St Joseph’s defence though, could only be admired for the diligence of their defending heretofore: Managing to force the ever/dangerous striker Aileen Gilroy play most of the half with her back to goal was a coup in itself, and for her reading of the game and must/make tackles, the first half display of full/back Kimberly Finnlass was a joy to behold:

It’s hard to thwart class however, and Gilroy was to cut loose in the second half, scoring four goals in the first 13 minutes and five in total:

Her first, and Lacken’s equaliser, arrived just 180 seconds after kick/off: Earlier goal/scorer Elaine Lowther’s cracking delivery from a left/wing free/kick was spilled by the goalkeeper and, perhaps, was helped off the line by a defend/er’s hand, however, Gilroy’s toe/poke of the loose ball to the net saved referee Michael McCay from making that call:

Two minutes later and with Niamh Collins pulling all the strings in midfield, the Mayo side were 3/2 ahead, with Gilroy - supplied by strike/partner Aoleann Collins - drilling to the bottom left corner of Emma Freeburne’s net: Collins also flicked on for Gilroy to double her team’s lead in the 11th minute of the half but Lacken’s fifth goal was all Gilroy’s own doing, when dribbling her way through a mass of players and firing to the ‘keeper’s left:

St Joseph’s were hardly able to breach enemy territory such was the Lacken dominance at this stage, and it was only the brave goalkeeping of Freeburne, on two occasions, that prevented Gilroy from stretching her side’s advantage further before the three/quarter mark:

The visitors, with Rosie Shine continuing to try hard in mid/field, were lacking none in effort though, and eventually they were able to re/trouble their opposing goalkeeper with 10 minutes left to play, but Emma Loughney was equal to the task of tipping over Blane Gately’s 20 yard shot, after she was fed possession by the everbattling Gillian Egan:

That rare attacking foray was only a temporary reprieve of pressure as St Patrick’s rounded off the game in style with Aileen Gilroy bolstering hers and her team’s tally with the game’s best goal, cutting in from the right wing, dodging the tackles and cracking an unstoppable shot to the St Joseph’s net:

ST PATRICK’S: Emma Loughney, Elaine Lowther, Martina Walker, Siobhan Clancy, Ailish Healy, Sorcha McGee, Niamh Collins, Rachel Healy, Sarah Farrell, Aoleann Collins, Aileen Gilroy: Subs: Megan Harte (for Farrell 48), Tanya Walsh (for A Collins 55):

ST JOSEPH’S: Emma Freeburne, Edel Igoe, Kimberly Finnlass, Nicola Downing, Ciara Dunning, Rosie Shine, Blane Gately, Gillian Egan, Kayley Dunning, Ciara Galvin, Ashling Lennon: Subs: Rebecca Naughton (for Lennon 45), Sarah O’Brien (for Downing 48), Shona Irwin (for Galvin 67):

Referee: Michael McCay:

St Patrick’s, Lacken Cross await the winners of today’s (Tuesday) Ulster Final between Loreto, Letterkenny and Carndonagh CS, who they will play in the Umbro FAI Schools Junior Girls National Cup semi/final: A date or venue is yet to be confirmed for that fixture: