Clann Eireann beat Bredagh to claim Ulster senior glory

Clann Eireann players celebrate with the trophy after their Ulster final win over Bredagh
Clann Eireann players celebrate with the trophy after their Ulster final win over Bredagh

Ulster Club Ladies’ SFC final

Bredagh (Down) 0-8 Clann Eireann (Armagh) 1-10

CLANN Eireann turned in a superb second-half performance to become the first Armagh club to win the Ulster senior title with victory over Bredagh yesterday. 

It’s a second final defeat in three years for Bredagh in what was an evenly contested, exciting final and one that was there for the taking right up until the last 10 minutes

Ultimately, it was decided by Niamh Coleman’s 54th-minute goal, which came when the game was finely poised at 0-8 apiece and level for the fourth time. 

The first half yielded only six points as the sides went in level 0-3 apiece at the break. However, it was an absorbing first 30 minutes with both sides evenly matched, defences on top and perhaps nerves affecting the shooting with five wides for Bredagh and six for Clann Eireann. 

The first score did not arrive until the 11th minute, Eva Hicks getting Bredagh off the mark but Clann Eireann, appearing in their first provincial final, missed an early goal chance, Niamh Murray off-target after the ball had come back off the butt of the post from an Aoibhin Donohue effort.

Both sides had two early wides and well organised defences forcing turnovers. 

Hicks’ point was immediately followed by one from Laoise Duffy to double Bredagh’s lead, Aoibheann McCarvill winning the Clann Eireann kick-out and finding her captain Eilish Ward, who loaded off to Duffy for a good score. 

Bredagh were dominating but missed opportunities meant they still only led by two when Dearbhla Coleman final got the Armagh champions off the mark in the 20th minute after they had overturned a Bredagh kick-out from a wide just seconds before. 

Much like Bredagh, Clann Eireann too struggled to find the target, although the upright denied captain Niamh Henderson and Emer Murtagh in the Bredagh goal stood firm to deny Meabh McCambridge.  

Bredagh went straight down the other end and Hicks logged her second and Bredagh’s third point of the day in the 25th minute, a super ball in from Orlagh Blaney finding Duffy who fed Hicks to make it 0-3 to 0-1. 

McCambridge fisted the ball over the bar for Clann Eireann to leave just one between them after good work from 16-year-old Donohue and Murray levelled it up just before half-time. 

Hicks put Bredagh ahead again two minutes after the resumption but four points without reply through Aoibhinn Henderson and Murray, including the game’s first point from a free, ensured Clann Eireann led for the first time, 0-7 to 0-4. 

However, Bredagh got themselves back on level terms through Aoibheann McCarvill, Laoise Duffy and Ward (free) before their captain moved them in front with a converted free in the 50th minute.

Then came that strong Clann Eireann finish with Murray (free) tying the game up in the 52nd minute before Coleman blasted past Murtagh two minutes later.

Captain Niamh Henderson moved them the crucial two scores ahead and they held firm in defence as Bredagh went in search of a much-needed score.

Donohue (free) wrapped up an historic win for the Lurgan side, who now face the Munster and Waterford champions Ballymacarby in the All-Ireland semi-finals. 

Clann Eireann manager Gregory McGonigle was delighted to win a first Ulster title and despite the cagey nature of the first half, felt the game was in the mix in the final 10 minutes. 

“We knew how good Bredagh would be, we expected nothing less than what Bredagh threw at us. In the first half there were going to be nerves and Bredagh had done their homework and the middle of the field became a bit of a collision zone. We would have been disappointed with not taking the scoring opportunities that we did create in the first half,” he said.  

“We regrouped at half-time. I had belief in them at half-time, we were well conditioned, we had done the mental work as well that if we were coming down the home straight we would put the pin to the collar. The goal came at an opportune time and that injected us.”

Bredagh E Murtagh; O Kelly, H Murray, O Blaney; A McCarvill (0-1), A Keenan, O Duffy; C Burke, A Laverty; M Deery, E Ward (0-2 frees) (capt), L Duffy (0-2);

C McCreanor, V McCormack, E Hicks (0-3) 

Subs A O’Keefe for McCarvill (40), E Gallen for Deery (45), M Kelly for McCormack (58) 

Clann Eireann C Lawless; A Fleville, C McCambridge, G Carville; R Mulligan, M Moriarty, C Towe; T Grimes, A Henderson (0-2); D Coleman (0-1), N Henderson (capt) (0-1), N Coleman (1-0); M McCambridge (0-1), N Murray (0-4, 0-2 frees), A Donohue (0-1f) 

Subs M McCann for Fleville (45), L McGibbon/Brown for Murray (62) 

Referee Maggie Farrelly (Cavan)