Derry’s first game of 2014 in the U16 section was a trip to Breffni Park to play host County, Cavan. Things didn’t go well though and following a heavy defeat on the 3G surface at Breffni Park, the Derry girls had a chance to redeem themselves as they faced a Down side at Ballymaguigan.
On Easter Monday 2014 the Derry Under 16 Ladies bowed out of the Ulster Under 16 A Championship as they fell to a Down side in an entertaining and high scoring affair.
The Derry girls began well as playing into the slight breeze they worked the ball upfield before Clare Fahey crashed the ball to the net to give the Derry girls the lead. Down then settled and playing some good football recorded a goal and seven points before Derry troubled the scoreboard again. Derry were struggling around the middle third as the Down half backs and midfield pairing were dominating. The tactic of a roving corner forward and the running from deep of their Centre Half Forward were causing the Derry defence significant problems.
When the ball got forward the Down defence were out in front and winning ball, but persistence of tackling brought about a simple free which Ellie McGuckin tapped over. The Down attack set off again however and a further goal and three points were added before Emma Donnelly struck home a close range goal to give the Derry girls some hope going in at half time with the score Down 2.10 Derry 2.01.
In the first half Anna Frizelle and Daire McKenna worked hard to keep the scores out, and while Caitlin Doherty in goal couldn’t be faulted for the goals, she did well to make a good save at one stage to deny the Down forwards. Her kick outs were getting good distance and clever running of wing backs Kelly Logue and Megan Lagan gave her options for Derry to keep possession from the kick outs.
Clare Fahey at Centre Half Back was giving her best but was faced with onrushing attackers on a number of occasions as Down came forward in waves. The midfield pairing of Brenda Grant and Annie Crozier were doing their best also to link defence and attack but found themselves on the back foot more often. Rachel Roberts found herself in this area too as she followed her player into the midfield area as Down moved their players around the pitch to good effect. In attack Casey McKenna and Ellie McGuckin were showing glimpses of promise but more often the attacks were being repelled by the Down defence.
The second half started with a Derry attack petering out to be punished severely as Down went forward to notch two goals and a point in quick succession.
With the gap at 16 points the Derry girls showed tremendous character as they now rolled their sleeves up and proceeded to dominate for the next twenty minutes.
A cracking goal from Toireasa McIlroy was followed by a two point reply from Down but two further points from Toireasa followed by a goal from Breena O’Loughlin raised hopes of a Derry fightback. With some good work by Annie Crozier, Rhianna Curran and second half substitute Fionnuala Flanagan Derry were getting a foothold around the middle of the park. A succession of points from Casey McKenna, Ellie McGuckin, Breena O’Loughlin, Annie Crozier, Breena O’Loughlin again and Ellie McGuckin to a lone point reply from Down reduced the deficit to five points and the concept of a Derry win looked possible. When Down were getting the ball forward now the Derry defence were coping much better as Daire McKenna, Rachel Roberts and Anna Frizelle repelled whatever Down had to throw at them. Kelly Logue and Rhianna Curran were combining well on the left while Megan Lagan and Clare Fahey held the Down half forwards at bay. The domination of Derry at this stage was very encouraging and with everyone in an Oak Leaf jersey contributing during this period, Derry used this platform to reel off 1.08 to a one point reply from the visitors.
Derry couldn’t maintain the pressure however and Down reasserted control at midfield and registered a goal and two points to kill off the game. Derry did have chances late on but a goal line clearance from an Ellie McGuckin effort was followed by a Breena O’Loughlin effort hitting the woodwork before an Emma Donnelly effort was smothered out for a 45. From the 45 some good link play involving Rhianna Curran gave Emma Donnelly the chance to complete the scoring with a well taken point to leave the final score Derry 4.10 Down 5.16.
In the end a disappointing result for the Derry girls but the positive would be a second half performance that they can all be proud of. With the promise of forthcoming Development Squad activity the girls can look forward to an Under 17 Development squad tournament in August and forthcoming Under 18 matches in the Ulster series.
Team: Caitlin Doherty (Limavady), Anna Frizelle (Coleraine), Daire McKenna (Glen), Rachel Roberts (Steelstown), Megan Lagan (Ballinascreen), Clare Fahey (Faughan Vale), Kelly Logue (Limavady), Annie Crozier (Ballymaguigan), Brenda Grant (Coleraine), Rhianna Curran (Faughan Vale), Ellie McGuckin (Magherafelt), Casey McKenna (Ballinascreen), Emma Donnelly (Steelstown), Breena O’Loughlin (Glen), Toireasa McIlroy (Limavady).
Subs: Fionnuala Flanagan (Steelstown) for Brenda Grant, Niamh Nugent (Ballymaguigan), Chloe O’Hagan (Ballinascreen), Ciara McColgan (Faughan Vale), Nicole Dougan (Newbridge), Caitlin Wade (Steelstown)
Scorers: Breena O’Loughlin (1.02), Toireasa McIlroy (1.02), Emma Donnelly (1.01), Ellie McGuckin (0.03), Clare Fahey (1.00), Casey NcKenna (0.01), Annie Crozier (0.01)