GAA Football

Queen's ladies footballers claim O'Connor Shield with winning second-half display

The Queen's University, Belfast team celebrate after winning the Gourmet Food Parlour HEC O'Connor Shield final against NUI Galway at the GAA National Games Development Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Louise Gunn

Gourmet Food Parlour O'Connor Shield Final: Queen's University Belfast 2-11 NUI Galway 3-4

QUEEN'S University staged a remarkable second half comeback to defeat NUI Galway in the O'Connor Shield final and take home the title.

The two teams were battling it out for the second piece of silverware up for grabs on the first day of the Gourmet Food Parlour O'Connor Cup Championships weekend at IT Blanchardstown and the National Sports Campus in Abbotstown on Friday evening.

It was not looking good for Mark Doran's charges with 12 minutes to go as they trailed NUIG by six points, the goals putting their opposition in the driving seat.

Although have registered one more score than NUIG in the first half, Queen's trailed 2-1 to 0-4 at half-time with Grainne Nolan and Olivia Divilly hitting first half majors, the latter's goal giving them a three point half lead at the break after Queen's had got back on level terms after 25 minutes.

The second half was a pulsating affair. Tipperary's Kirsty Ryan added a third goal for her side and by the 48th minute Queen's found themselves six points adrift, 3-3 to 0-6. However, when Fionnghuala Rocks finally found the back of the NUIG net, Queen's turned this game on it head. They outscored their opponents 2-5 to 0-1, Rocks' 55th minute goal reducing the deficit to a single point and with four minutes of normal time remaining the sides were level. NUIG did go back into the lead with a point in the final minute, but Queen's levelled matters and captain Joanne Donnan's 62nd minute, injury time goal put them in front as they added another point to complete a 10 point turnaround.

Queen's manager Doran commended the perseverance and character his side showed, particularly in the second half when their backs were to the wall.

“It was probably relief more than anything at the final whistle. We had played reasonably well but missed a lot of chances in both halves. Thankfully though the girls showed great perseverance and character and kept going and didn't let their heads drop and he spoke about that at half-time,” he said.

“When the first goal did come in the second half I knew that we would at the least get a draw and go to extra-time, and I would have taken that. But we continued to drive at them and threw caution to the wind, being six or seven points down with less than a quarter of the game to go, you have to do that. We went for it and played football.

“I think the next day, when it had sunk in you were able to take satisfaction from what the girls had achieved. For some, like our captain Joanne Doonan that was her last chance being in final year, and she oozes leadership and it was great to see her win.”

Gourmet Food Parlour Lynch Cup final: Ulster University Jordanstown 4-20 IT Sligo 0-3

ULSTER University Jordanstown completed a league and championship double, claiming the Lynch Cup in emphatic fashion with a 21 point victory over IT Sligo in Saturday's final at IT Blanchardstown

And manager Sean O'Kane is already looking forward to next year as they make the step up into Division Two and the Giles Cup.

This victory over IT Sligo was the third over their opponents since the start of the colleges' year and not even O'Kane, who was quietly confident about his side's chances going in to the O'Connor Cup Championships weekend, could have foreseen such a one-side outcome.

UUJ had won both but only by a few points in their previous two encounters and more of the same was expected, but at half-time this one was over.

“We had a very good team this year and to do the double is a great way to finish off the year. The final unfortunately might not have been a great spectacle for anyone watching and to be honest I was very surprised with IT Sligo. I thought it would have been a lot, lot closer, a game that would go down to the wire but it didn't turn out that way at all,” said O'Kane.

UUJ defeated the Garda in Friday's semi-final 4-10 to 2-7, but it was a nervy game for the Poly despite the final scoreline. That certainly was not the case on Saturday and what transpired in the final. At half-time, UUJ led 4-12 to 0-1, their goals coming from Emma Smyth, two from Aimee Mackin, who also chipped in with some stunning points, and the other from Grainne Rafferty, who received the player of the match award.

“We were very nervous in the semi-final and we struggled at times but Saturday morning we were very relaxed and we were ruthless in the final and I am delighted with the performance and for the girls,” said O'Kane who said bringing on board coach Tommy Coleman this year was a massive help.

“Next year we are in the Giles Cup and that will be a step up but Waterford IT, who won the Lynch Cup last year and beat us in a semi-final that we felt we were robbed out of, went and won the Giles Cup at the weekend and we are confident that we can compete well in it.

“This was a massive team effort and it has been a few years in the making. We have had great support from the college and it was great to finally see the Mackin sisters, Aimee and Blaithin, win an All-Ireland final. This was their seventh All-Ireland final and the first one they won. Likewise, it's great to see the Tyrone girls who lost last year's All-Ireland intermediate final to Tipperary win too.”

Gourmet Food Parlour O'Connor Cup final: Dublin City University 2-12 University of Limerick 0-17

DUBLIN City University needed an injury time winner from captain Aishling Moloney to dethrone champions University of Limerick in a pulsating O'Connor Cup final at Abbotstown on Sunday evening.

There were emotional scenes at the final whistle as DCU got their hands on the prestigious colleges' competition for the first time since 2011, under the helm of Peter Clarke, who was the last manager to guide them to O'Connor Cup success where they completed three-in-a-row.

Cavan's Aisling Sheridan can proudly bow out with an O'Connor Cup medal as she completes her studies there this spring and she too weighed in with 1-1. Monaghan's Muireann Atkinson has also now bagged herself a winners' medal too.

DCU battled to victory the hard way; playing 10 minutes without their inspiration captain Moloney, who was sent to the sin bin after being yellow carded and it looked like UL would manage to hold on to their title with Cork star Eimear Scally's free-taking on point.

The first goal of the game came after 16 minutes, Mayo forward Niamh Kelly's effort dropped short, but Sheridan bundled the ball over the line following a scramble to make it 1-3 to 0-3.

As half-time approached, Scally kept frees ticking over while Rowe closed proceedings at the break with the score reading 1-7 to 0-7.

With Moloney shown a yellow card for a challenge on Laurie Ryan, UL started to mount their challenge.

Scally's expert kicking from frees continued while Howley produced two stunning efforts to swing the momentum in their favour.

But then came Moloney back to the field and she was involved in the attack which resulted in a DCU penalty.

Rowe stepped up to find the back of the net despite Caoimhe Moore getting her fingertips to it, and the same player added a point straight after.

Scally levelled matters at the other end directly after, but it took a moment of magic from Moloney at the death to ensure the O'Connor Cup would head to DCU where they already had the Division One league title stored away.

Gourmet Food Parlour Lagan & Moynihan Cup round-up

FOUR colleges' titles were up for grabs for the province's universities at the weekend and in a great advertisement of ladies football in Ulster the four titles will reside here for the next year.

Queen's University Belfast and Ulster University Jordanstown won the O'Connor Shield and Lynch Cup respectively with St Mary's University College Belfast and Ulster University Coleraine following in their victorious footsteps to take home the Moynihan and Lagan Cups as well.

It has been a great few weeks for St Mary's Belfast with the hurlers enjoying success at the Fitzgibbon Cup weekend and the camogs winning the Fr Meachair Cup at the Ashbourne Cup weekend. Now the ladies footballers have followed suit with an impressive 1-16 to 0-7 win Moynihan Cup final win over IT Tralee on Saturday evening in Abbotstown.

St Mary's qualified for the decider with a 6-9 to 0-9 win over Dundalk IT in Friday's semi-final with Aoibheann Jones scoring four of her side's goals.

That win, however, came at a cost with Louise Kenny ruled out of Saturday's final after picking up an injury. Despite the absence of the influential centre half back, St Mary's proved much too strong for their opponents who had defeated Letterkenny IT by the narrowest of margins, 2019 to 2-9, in a close fought semi-final on Friday.

St Mary's led the final from start to finish and by half-time had built up a 0-10 to 0-3 lead, Meabh McGleenan helping herself to a handful of points.

It took IT Tralee to the 20th minute to register their first score by which stage St Mary's had put six points on the board.

The second half continued in similar fashion and with 10 minutes remaining they led by double scores, 0-12 to 0-6 and that soon became 0-15 to 0-6 by the 55th minute.

McGleenan put the icing on the cake for St Mary's when she was found unmarked in front of goals and made no mistake to fire to the back of the net in the 57th minute for the game's only goal as they extended their winning margin to 12 points for a well-deserved victory for Darragh Kavanagh, Damian Ball and Jack O'Dolan's charges.

Captain Aine McAllister lifted the Moynihan Cup on behalf of her team, as she and six other team-mates including Kenny and McGleenan, collected their second All-Ireland colleges' medal in as many weeks.

Ulster University Coleraine were not to be outdone by their Jordanstown campus and returned to County Derry on Sunday with the Lagan Cup in their hands after a 1-13 to 0-7 win over Athlone IT 2 in the first of three finals on Sunday at Abbotstown.

UUC took the lead through a point with the game's opening score in the 2nd minute and they never looked back. At half-time Darren McGeehan's side were in control 0-9 to 0-2 but Athlone IT hit the first four points of the second half to reduce the deficit to three points. However, UCC replied with two of their own to open up a five point gap with 10 minute remaining and they stretched that lead to 0-13 to 0-7 by the 57th minute.

With the title looking to be on its way to Coleraine, Derry girl Aoife McGough, with number three on her back, made sure of the victory with a finishing a superb move, which she started in her full-back line, for the game's only goal.

McGough soloed over half the length of the field before playing a one-two with Niamh McBride, then giving it to Leanne McAleavey who found McGough had continued her run and was unmarked in front of goals to fire to the back of the net.

RESULTS

O'Connor Cup semi-finals: DCU 3-13 UCD 0-10, UL 3-14 UCC 1-11

O'Connor Cup final: DCU 2-12 UL 0-17

O'Connor Cup Shield final: Queen's University Belfast 2-11 NUI Galway 3-4

Giles Cup semi-finals: Waterford IT 3-11 Athlone IT 3-10, Mary Immaculate College Limerick 1-8 DCU2 3-7

Giles Cup final: Waterford IT 4-16 DUC2 0-8

Lynch Cup semi-finals: Ulster University Jordanstown 4-10 Garda 2-7, IT Sligo 3-9 Dublin IT 1-9

Lynch Cup final: Ulster University Jordanstown 4-20 IT Sligo 0-3

Donaghy Cup final: Royal College Surgeons Ireland 4-8 DCU6 1-8

Moynihan Cup semi-finals: IT Tralee 2-10 Letterkenny IT 2-9, St Mary's University College Belfast 6-9 Dundalk IT 0-9

Moynihan Cup final: St Mary's University College Belfast 1-16 IT Tralee 0-5

Lagan Cup final: Ulster University Coleraine 1-13 Athone IT 2 0-7

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