GAA Football

Errigal Ciaran see off Clann Eireann as Canavan leads the Ulster title charge

E RRIGAL Ciaran’s Maria Canavan hit 2-9 as she captained her side to a first Ulster club minor championship title at St Tiernach’s Park, Clones yesterday with victory over Clann Eireann.

The final ladies game of the season produced a highly entertaining and exciting encounter between two teams who left everything on the pitch on a Sunday afternoon in December, the result of which was in the balance until the right up to the last five or so minutes.

The lead exchanged hands four times throughout the 60 minutes and the sides were level on three occasions, but it was Errigal Ciaran who just edged it by two in the end to deny Clann Eireann a second provincial crown in three years.

The Tyrone champions raced into a five-point lead, the opening score of the game a point from corner-forward Aoife Quinn with captain Maria Canavan adding a further four points and they led 0-5 to no score.

However, within the space of 10 minutes, Clann Eireann went from a five-point deficit to a five-point lead, hitting an unanswered 3-1.

Impressive full-forward Niamh Murray set them on their way with a point from a free in the 11th minute and, in the same minute, Dearbhla Coleman had the ball in the back of the Errigal Ciaran net to make it a one point game.

They went ahead with their second of three goals when Niamh Murray, taking a pin-point pass from Coleman, finished emphatically to the bottom corner past Eimear Corrigan.

That two-point lead for the Armagh champions soon became five when Coleman rattled the Errigal Ciaran goal again in the 19th minute to lead 3-1 to 0-5.

However, a high ball in from Canavan found its way over Aoife McConville, in the Clann Eireann goals and down into the back of the net to bring her side right back into it in the 22nd minute, 3-1 to 1-5.

Murray and Coleman added further Clann Eireann points to move four clear, but despite losing full-forward Enya Donnelly to the sin bin in the 25th minute, Errigal finished stronger with their 14 players.

Two late first half points from Michaela Moore and Canavan left it all to play for in the second half, 3-3 to 1-7. When Murray and Megan McCann increased Clann Eireann’s lead back to four two minutes after the resumption,

it looked like the Lurgan club might take control again. But credit to Errigal, 1-3 in four minutes put them back in the driving seat, Canavan with a 35th minute goal in between two converted frees, with impressive centre half-back Meabh Corrigan putting them into a 2-10 to 3-5 lead.

Just as in the first half, Clann Eireann responded and points from Anna McCaughley and Murray saw the sides level for the second time, 3-7 to 2-10 with 45 minutes gone.

Murray put her side in front in the 49th minute, but it was to be their last score. There was plenty of time for Canavan to level matters in the 53rd before a point from Elle McNamee put them into the lead and playerof-the-match Canavan rounded off a superb individual display with her side’s final score.

Clann Eireann did have time on their side, but the Errigal defence stood firm until the final whistle signalled triumphant celebrations.

“This is the fruition of 11 months hard work and three years most of these girls have been together – they have won three Tyrone championships in-a-row so to see them get their just rewards today was fantastic,” said Errigal Ciaran manager Claire Campbell.

“Two excellent teams that worked so hard and, really, it could have gone either way. “We had looked at Clann Eireann and thought they were mostly a first half team, so we knew if we got within touching distance of them in the first half we hopefully would have the legs on them in the second.

“It could have gone either way, but our girls dug so deep. The talent is there to see, but when you match that with hard work, you will not be far away.

“These girls work together well as a team and have been together through school and through club and some play county football together too. So when you bring that all together, they work well and they know each other inside out.

“The younger girls have really freshened things up as well from the U16 championship-winning team. The talent is there and hopefully they can push on now to senior football.”

Clann Eireann: A McConville; U McConville, L Towe, A Keenan; A Mulholland, M McCambridge, A McStay; M McCann (0-1), C Towe (captain); E McConville, D Coleman (2-1), A McGibbon; A McCaughley (0-1), N Murray (1-5, 0-2 frees), H McConville

Subs: K McConville for H McConville (36)

Errigal Ciaran: E Corrigan; O Quinn, C Donaghy, N Nixon; S Mullin, M Corrigan (0-1), C Nixon; B McDermott, M Canavan (captain) (2-9, 0-6 frees); E McNamee (0-1), M Moore (0-1), H McGirr; A Quinn (0-1), E Donnelly, B McAleer

Subs: A Horisk for O Quinn (45)

Referee: D Love (Fermanagh)

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GAA Football