Ulster Intermediate Club Ladies’ Football Championship final: Derrygonnelly (Fermanagh) 2-11 Castlerahan/Denn (Cavan) 2-6
DERRYGONNELLY clinched the Ulster Intermediate Club Championship title with a late rally to hold off a spirited Castlehan/Denn at Healy Park, Omagh yesterday.
The Fermanagh champions had a personal haul of 2-9 from the illustrious Eimear Smyth as the full-forward got all but two of her side’s total.
Her 52nd minute goal turned the game back in Derrygonnelly’s favour after Castlerahan/Denn had got themselves back on level terms thanks to captain Shanise Fitzsimon’s 41st minute goal from the penalty spot. That made it 1-6 apiece and for the next 10 minutes they dominated the game but failed to make it count on the scoreboard and when Eimear McEnroe was sin-binned in the 49th minute for the Cavan side, Smyth’s goal followed three minutes later and then Derrygonnelly outscored their opponents 1-5 to a goal.
Rachel McEnroe’s 55th goal for Castlerahan/Denn gave them a lifeline as they reduced the arrears to three, 2-9 to 2-6, but Smyth’s accuracy from frees was just too good.
Castlerahan/Denn will look back on missed chances, their wides tally just too much compared to Derrygonnelly’s, and in particular, Eimear Smyth’s accuracy.
Two Smyth frees put Derrygonnelly into a 0-2 to no score lead by the sixth minute before Rachel McEnroe replied for Castlerahan/Denn in the seventh minute and captain Shanise Fitzsimons levelled the game from a free in the 13th minute.
Bronagh Smith edged Derrygonnelly back in front a minute later before her sister Eimear fired to the back of the net past Amy Kerrigan to make it 1-3 to 0-2 as the Fermanagh champions overturned possession from the Castlerahan/Denn kick-out.
The Cavan side to their credit got the next three scores, Fitzsimons (free) and two fine efforts from play from Hannah Fitzsimons to leave just a point between them with six minutes of the half remaining, 1-3 to 0-5. They had a chances to level the game and indeed had a goal from Andrea McPhillips disallowed for a square ball while at the other end, Bronagh Smyth popped over a fine point to give her side a 1-4 to 0-5 lead at half-time.
Castlerahan/Denn reduced the deficit to the minimum three minutes after the restart but two Smyth frees put her side’s lead back out to three but they were right back in it when McEnroe was dragged back and Fitzsimon’s despatched the ball into the left hand corner past Megan Maguire. Fitzsimons nearly put Castlerahan/Denn into the lead for the first time in the 45th minute but her effort crashed back off the crossbar. The Cavan side were creating chances but could not make them count and instead when Derrygonnelly weathered the storm they had Smyth at the other end to kill off the game.
For Derrygonnelly manager Garry Smith the achievement of an Ulster title after years of hard work from the players was as good as it gets.
“I’m delighted for the group of girls that they have some reward now for the unbelievable commitment and effort they have shown, not just this year but over a number of years. There are girls who have been there for too many year than they would care to remember but it’s great for those girls to be involved on a day like this,” he said.
He paid tribute to the way in which his defence held firm as Castlerahan/Denn battled for the lead and how his side took their chances when presented.
“Castlerahan we knew we were going to get a fantastic battle from them and that’s what transpired. We did struggle to get the ball out at a stage and we had the ball camped in our own half but in fairness, whilst Castlerahan had a significant period of dominance I have to be so proud of our defenders as to how they dealt with that and then once we did get the ball down the other end we managed to score. Scores were going to be at a premium and we just had to make sure when we got the chance that we took them and thankfully we did.”
Derrygonnelly, who follow in Kinawley’s footsteps after their success in Ulster last year, will now face the Britain champions in the All-Ireland Intermediate series in two weeks’ time.
Castlerahan/Denn: A Kerrigan; N Majola, C Smith, J Brady; A Conakry, R McEnroe (1-1), R Fitzsimons; S Slowey, C Keogh; A McPhillips, S Fitzsimons (capt) (1-2, 1-0pen, 0-2f), E Tierney; E McEnroe (0-1), M Brady, H Fitzsimons (0-2)
Subs: E Brady for M Brady (47), A Duffy for McPhillips, E Brady for J Brady (58)
Derrygonnelly: M Meguire, K Elliott, A Gordon (capt), C Leonard; B Bannon, R Wallace, N Smyth; E Burns, D Duffy; SJ Jones, N Jones, E Cassidy; B Smyth (0-2), E Smyth (2-9, 0-8f), A Jones
Subs: E Cassidy for Elliott (62), I Jones for N Jones (66), T McLaughlin for B Smyth (67)
Referee: O McKenna