Connacht LGFA Lidl PPS Senior A Final
Sacred Heart School Westport 0-10 Colaiste Bhaile Chlair 0-04
A Flatley at Swinford Amenity Park
The Senior Ladies of the Sacred Heart School Westport were crowned Queens of Connacht for the second year in a row as they overcame the dogged challenge of their old foes Colaiste Bhaile Chliar in their Lidl PPS Senior A Final on Wednesday afternoon.
Laura Moran played her captain’s role to perfection early on as she settled any early Westport nerves by slotting over the game’s opening score inside the first minute. The Sacred Heart girls were looking menacing and when Christina McEvilly played in Fionnuala McLaughin the Claregalway defence were left with no choice but to drag her down. Sorcha McCarney stepped up to take the spot kick but goalkeeper Leah O’Halloran was equal to McCarney’s effort.
The Mayo side kept the pressure on however, with Hannah Sheehy doubling their advantage by latching on to McLaughlin’s pass, before splitting the posts. Two became three moments later and it was a score manufactured on the training pitches of Westport GAA club, as good work from clubmates Moran and McCarney saw fellow Covey Aoife Staunton help herself to a single.
Claregalway finally had a chance to open their account but Emily Brogan’s free was off target. An excellent long-range score from Staunton was then followed by an equally impressive score from Sheehy, to push the Westport lead out to five. It almost got so much better for Sacred Heart as McLaughlin weaved through the Claregalway defence, before playing in McEvilly, but again O’Halloran managed to keep her clean sheet intact.
Remarkably the Tribeswomen would fail to register a single score in the first half, as a combination of wayward shooting and a miserly Westport defence, led brilliantly by Eimear Geraghty, meant the umpires remained untroubled. The team in blue had no such trouble at the other end however, as first Aoife Staunton converted her third point of the half, before a brilliantly worked team move was finished off by the impressive McLaughlin, to leave the score 0-7 to 0-0 at the break.
O’Halloran was almost singlehandedly keeping Claregalway in the contest, as she again produced another brilliant save to deny Staunton, at the start of the new half, while Aoibhe O’Flynn blocked Chloe Chamber’s rebounded effort. But Ava Palasz did manage to push Sacred Heart further ahead as she curled over. However, the inevitable Claregalway fightback eventually materialised and it coincided with the introduction of substitute Meave Meehan. Roisin Hughes finally got the Galway side off the mark in the forty-third minute, with a fine effort from out the field. In typical fashion, having waited so long for their first score, two more followed in quick succession, as Ciara Hegarty and Meehan both converted frees.
The gap may have been cut back to five but at no point did the Westport side show signs of panic and the undoubted depth of their panel was proven, as substitutes Chambers and Saoirse Byrne both raised white flags, to put the game to bed. Meehan did manage to send over a free late in added time but the final word must go to O’Halloran who simply would not be beaten and again denied Staunton what looked like a certain goal right at the death.
The Sacred Heart School now progress to the All Ireland Semi Finals on March 18th, where they will meet the Ulster Champions, Loreto Cavan, a side very familiar to the Westport school from their meeting in last year’s U-16 A All Ireland Final.
SHS Westport scorers: Aoife Staunton 0-3, Hannah Sheehy 0-2, Laura Moran, Fionnuala McLaughlin, Ava Palasz, Saoirse Byrne and Chloe Chambers 0-1 each.
Colaiste Bhaile Chlair scorers: Meave Meehan 0-2 (2f), Roisin Hughes and Ciara Hegarty (1f) 0-1 each.
SHS Westport: Aoife Calvey, Eimear Geraghty, Alana McDonnell, Ria Cafferkey, Ava Kelly, Beth Hoban, Ellie Hyland, Sarah Mulroy, Sorcha McCarney, Fionnuala McLaughlin, Laura Moran, Hannah Sheehy, Ava Palasz, Aoife Staunton, Christina McEvilly. Subs: Chloe Chambers and Eabha Carney for Hyland and McEvilly (h.t), Saoirse Byrne for Palasz (44), Lisa Hastings for Kelly (57), Sophie Scahill for McDonnell (58)
Colaiste Bhaile Chlair: Leah O’Halloran, Brenda Naughton, Isabel Claffey, Roisin Hughes, Eabha O’Riordan, Aoife Collins, Zoe Duggan, Ava Crowe, Aoibhe O’Flynn, Siofra Kelly, Eabha Brennan, Emily Brogan, Ciara Hegarty, Chloe Flaherty, Ava Sweeney. Subs: Maeve Meehan for Brogan (39)
Ref: Des Henry (Sligo)