Ballina ladies grab all the glory
FINAL - WFAI Intermediate Cup
Ballina Town 3
Barrett 12, Herbert 13, Coyle 92
Kavanagh 22, Myles 82
BALLINA TOWN won the final of the FAI Women’s Intermediate Cup in dramatic style beating Cork side Ballincollig at Jackman Park, Limerick on Sunday afternoon.
A goal two minutes into injury time by Patricia Coyle stunned the Cork side who had just equalised minutes earlier.
It was typical of the character of the Mayo side who showed skill and commitment throughout the park. Aoife Herbert ran herself into the ground in an outstanding performance before her departure due to injury late in the game.
Jacqueline Mulligan had a brilliant opening half and seemed to be the source of everything good created by Ballina. Behind her Aine McLean was superb at centre-back and had plenty of support in her fellow defenders while ‘keeper Deirdre Devine made some vital saves at crucial times in the game.
“There was a lot of emotions released at the end I can tell you,” admitted Ballina boss, Harry McCafferty. “There was such relief and happiness. The goal was worthy of winning any game and it just means so much.
“I mean we are only in existence as a club for four years, and I really hope the girls get the credit they deserve for this victory because it is such a huge achievement.”
Ballina kicked off and immediately tested the opposition ‘keeper. Eimear Feerick’s long ball over the top picked out the run of Aoife Herbert who fended off her marker but her low shot from the edge of the box was gathered at the near post by Ballincollig keeper Lisa O’Mahony.
After a shaky start Ballincollig began to find their feet and they had a great chance to take the lead after four minutes. Claudine Myles’, Ballincollig’s best player on the day, cross from the right wing was met first time by Charlotte Chaill but her volley flew over from six yards.
A good move by Ballincollig five minutes later nearly produced the opening goal. A long run from inside her own half by Myles sent Shirley Desmond through on goal but a well rehearsed Ballina offside trap saved the day for Harry McCafferty’s side.
While Ballincollig were enjoying the best of the possession it was the Westerner’s who grabbed the lead with 12 minutes played.
Jacqueline Mulligan picked up a quick throw on the left flank. A speculative cross into the box seemed to be an easy take for O’Mahony in the Ballincollig goal but Paula Barrett read the flight of the cross and with an outstretched foot touched the ball past the keeper for the opening goal.
With the Cork team reeling, Ballina struck again. Winning the ball from the kick-off Hazel McCafferty played a long ball over the defence to the in-running Herbert. Herbert’s initial shot was stopped by the keeper but failure to grasp the loose ball proved fatal as Herbert was in like a flash to fire the rebound into an empty net.
After sixteen minutes Ballina’s strike force of Herbert and Barrett combined to set up the latter to fire a shot towards the top corner only for O’Mahony to tip out for a corner.
Ballincollig regained their composure and should have reduced the deficit on eighteen minutes. Again Myles was involved and her pass was put over from close range by Chaill.
The Cork side did pull one back four minutes later. A free kick from forty yards by Elaine Kavanagh was drilled at goal. Ballina ‘keeper Deirdre Devine got her hands to the ball but an eagled-eyed linesman saw the ball had crossed the line and flagged for a goal.
With eight minutes to play in the first half Myles robbed the ball off the Ballina defence and ran through one-on-one but Devine stood tall and saved well.
On the stroke of half-time Kavanagh nearly equalised from another free kick on the opposite side of the box. Her shot curled over the wall but was stopped at the top corner by an outstretched Devine.
The second half started at a slower pace and the first real chance came on the hour mark when Myles’ cross was volleyed high over the bar by Courtney Collins and three minutes later a snap shot from ten yards by Katie Ritson flew just over the bar.
With twenty minutes to play Ballincollig threw caution to the wind began to push players forward. A twenty yard run by Collins for the Cork side saw her shoot into the keeper’s hands and at the other end an in-swinging free by Barrett was dropped by the keeper but she gathered just in time to deny Bridget Staunton.
Ballincollig’s pressure paid off with eight minutes to play. A cross by Aoife McCarthy was controlled by Myles, who turned her marker and fired past the keeper to the relief of the Cork support. With three minutes to play Ballincollig nearly grabbed what might well have been the winner but a fine save by Devine denied Chaill.
Two minutes into injury-time – and with extra-time looming – Ballina scored the winner with a goal worthy of taking any game. Patricia Coyle picked the ball up on the halfway line and ran at the Ballincollig defence, beating three defenders on her way, before firing an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net amid wild celebration.
“They knew this was a chance that may not come around again and they had to grasp it,“ said Harry McCafferty. “They just went out and did it. It’s fantastic.”
Deirdre Devine, Eimear Feerick, Aine McLean, Olivia McGloin, Nicola Leonard, Carra Cooke, Hazel McCafferty, Patricia Coyle, Jacqueline Mulligan, Paula Barrett, Aoife Herbert. Subs used: Imelda McNulty, Bridget Staunton, Marilyn McHale, Aoife Mangan, Lisa Barrett.
L O’Mahony, E Kavanagh, P Quinn, D Coomey, A Kenny, C Collins, S Desmond, C Myles, V St. Ledger, C Chaill, K Ritson. Subs used: S Keenan, S O’Mahoney, A McCarthy, J Walsh.
AN EMOTIONAL MOMENT Olivia McGloin (left) embraces some her Ballina Town team-mate Bridget Staunton after the final whistle in the FAI Women’s Intermediate Challenge Cup Final in Jackman Park, Limerick on Sunday. Pics: Press 22