Under 18 “C” Championship Final
The Derry Under 18 Ladies team secured their first ever silverware in Under 18 Ladies Football competition with a narrow victory over Antrim last Monday at Armagh venue Tir na nOg in the Ulster “C” championship final.
The two teams had met previously in the competition and Antrim had beaten the Derry girls well in the league encounter at Moneyglass. For this fixture both teams showed changes in personnel, though Derry kept faith with the same fifteen that started against Fermanagh in the semi final. This contributed to a dramatic and nail biting encounter that ebbed and flowed before Derry ran out winners by the narrowest of margins.
The Oak Leaf girls began well with Toireasa McIlroy opening the scoring to help settle the Derry girls. The Antrim girls soon responded and in a period of dominance registered 1.03 to take a five point lead. The Derry girls didn’t drop their heads though and with corner backs Derbhla Wilson and Anna Frizelle stepping up to force turnovers they helped relieve the pressure on the Derry goal.
Ciara McColgan at wing half back was given the onerous task of marking the Antrim playmaker Hannah Doherty and settled well to her task. While nullifying the Antrim threat, Ciara also helped assert control in the half back line along with Kate Hargan and Kelly Logue to provide the platform for Derry to go on and dominate the next fifteen minute period. In midfield Annie Crozier and Casey McKenna were finding the going tough at times but in their periods of dominance were able to deliver quality ball to the forward line where Breena O’Loughlin, at full forward plundered two great goals.
Sandwiched between these was an excellent solo run and opportunist strike to the net from Toireasa McIlroy and when Toireasa and Breena tagged on further points to a one point Antrim reply Derry had opened a 3.03 to 1.04 lead with first half time almost up. Antrim switched players to different positions, unsettling Derry but Brenda Grant in goal pulled off a couple of good saves to keep Derry ahead and a further one point from Antrim brought the first half to a close with Derry leading by four points at 3.03 to 1.05.
Rhianna Curran and Cara Doherty were giving the defence and midfield the options for release of possession to the forwards and indeed the Derry girls were supporting each other to great effect. Constant challenges on the Antrim rearguard by Emma Donnelly and Ellie McGuckin meant Antrim were not getting out easily from their defence either.
The Derry girls were putting in tackles for possession all over the pitch, and it was from this platform that Derry had made the strides on the scoreboard in the first half.
The second half started with the introduction of Orla Flanagan to midfield, with Annie Crozier moving to the half forward line to replace Ellie McGuckin.
Derry again started the second half well and Cara Doherty opened her scoring account with a well taken point. A goal for Antrim was soon cancelled out by a typically powerful solo run and finish to the net by Annie Crozier. Antrim were now stung into action and notched a point but in spite of dominating proceedings for a period they were constantly put under pressure by the excellent Derry defence, resulting in a succession of wides. Antrim were awarded a penalty after an incident where corner forward Derbhail McShane went to ground in a collision with full back Claire Fahey. When Hannah Doherty struck the penalty low and hard to the corner of the net the deficit was back to a point, and soon after Antrim brought the match level with a further point to leave it tied at 4.04 to 3.07.
Derry found another gear though with Toireasa McIlroy finding her range from the left hand side after great support play from the impressive Ciara McColgan and Orla Flanagan. Shortly afterwards Annie Crozier was brought down some thirty yards from goal and stood up herself to send a high looping shot towards goal. The ball sailed to the net to the delight of the Derry fans and a four point gap was opened again in favour of Derry.
With twelve minutes left on the clock Antrim full forward Emma Magee went down injured after a collision with Derbhla Wilson and the disruption to play saw Derry lose some of their momentum. When play re-started Antrim took control a goal and two points put Antrim ahead for only the second time in the game with time down to five minutes on the clock. The Derry girls didn’t panic though and the midfield of Casey McKenna and Orla Flanagan, along with the defensive sextet of Kate Hargan, Kelly Logue, Ciara McColgan, Anna Frizelle, Derbhla Wilson and captain Claire Fahey stepped up to the plate. Antrim were denied time and again and when the possession was won and sent up the right sideline from Kelly Logue there was some great work from Rhianna Curran and Emma Donnelly. The ball was moved on to Breena O’Loughlin who found Cara Doherty who neatly side stepped two challenges before crashing the ball to the net to put Derry in the ascendancy again.
Antrim couldn’t get back for the major score needed they needed such was the tenacity of the Derry defence. When they did get through, Brenda Grant again denied the Antrim attack with a save low to her left. From the resultant 45 metre free Antrim worked the ball in towards the Derry goal and when Orla Flanagan accepted a yellow card sin binning for a foul on an Antrim girl they were left to tap the ball over the bar. From the resultant short kickout Derry got the ball moving out of the danger zone via Kate Hargan and Casey McKenna before the referee called time to scenes of joy among the Derry players, management and supporters, Derry winning on a scoreline of 6.05 to 4.10.
This was indeed a great display from the Derry team. This was a close game with never more than five points separating the two sides and while Antrim might rue their missed chances, Derry also missed a few opportunities from free kicks that would have pushed them out further ahead.
Team captain Claire Fahey went on to accept the trophy on behalf of the team to the delight of the supporters who had made the journey to Portadown.
Team: Brenda Grant (Coleraine), Derbhla Wilson (Steelstown), Claire Fahey (Faughan Vale), Anna Frizelle (Coleraine), Kelly Logue (Limavady), Kate Hargan (Claudy), Ciara McColgan (Faughan Vale), Casey McKenna (Ballinascreen), Annie Crozier (Ballymaguigan), Rhianna Curran (Faughan Vale), Ellie McGuckin (Magherafelt), Toireasa McIlroy (Limavady), Cara Doherty (Claudy), Breena O’Loughlin (Glen), Emma Donnelly (Steelstown)
Sub used: Orla Flanagan (Steelstown) for Ellie McGuckin
Scorers: Breena O’Loughlin (2.01), Annie Crozier (2.00), Toireasa McIlroy (1.03), Cara Doherty (1.01)
Subs: Caitlin Doherty (Limavady), Eimear Duffy (Ballerin), Niamh Nugent (Ballymaguigan), Jasmine Boyle (Steelstown), Daire McKenna (Glen), Chloe O’Hagan (Ballinascreen), Colleen Burke (Dungiven), Meagan Lagan (Ballinascreen), Fionnuala Flanagan (Steelstown), Rachel Roberts (Steelstown), Naoise Johnson (Faughan Vale)
Under 18’s win in Irvinestown
At Irvinestown the Derry Under 18 Ladies won through to the Ulster “C” Championship decider with a satisfactory display and victory over Fermanagh.
The Derry girls were under strength as along with coping with some injuries, some girls were unavailable due to AS and GCSE exams. For those that did make themselves available they can be satisfied with their performances and can look forward to a meeting with Antrim in the “C” final.
With the absenteeism, the game started with a number of changes made to the Derry team. Brenda Grant reverted to goals, with Casey McKenna and Ellie McGuckin switching to take over in midfield. Breena O’Loughlin and Cara Doherty were then introduced into the forward line from the start and they staked a real claim for inclusion in the team for the final.
Derry started well and Emma Donnelly swept the ball to the net with Derry’s first attack after good link up play from Toireasa McIlroy and Ellie McGuckin on the right wing. An opening point from Fermanagh gave the Derry defence cause for caution as they came under pressure but Claire Fahey began to dominate at full back and the marker was set that Fermanagh were not going to get scores easy.
Cara Doherty went on one of her trademark runs with ball in hand and coolly slotted home the second Derry goal before Breena O’Loughlin found her range with a couple of points. Fermanagh notched two points in return but couldn’t seem to break through the Derry rearguard for goal chances. Half backs Kate Hargan and Ciara McColgan along with corner backs Derbhla Wilson and Anna Frizelle were making life very difficult for the Fermanagh forwards.
When Cara Doherty added another goal Derry had moved into a commanding 3.02 to 0.03 lead. From then to half time the Derry midfield and half backs came under increasing pressure though as Fermanagh went on to score three unanswered points to leave Derry ahead 3.02 to 0.06 at half time. Fermanagh couldn’t breach the Derry defensive lines for goal scoring options though as Claire Fahey and Kate Hargan time and again negated the Erne attacks on goal. Any long range efforts from the Erne girls were gathered in by Brenda Grant in goal and cleared to the safety of the wings where Ciara McColgan and Kelly Logue did their best to move the possession on to the forwards.
The second half opened with Fermanagh attacking from the throw in and when their full forward was brought down in the square they were awarded a penalty, coolly struck to the corner of the net. A further point from Fermanagh reduced the deficit to one point, and it looked like it could a close match from here on. A scoring return for Fermanagh of 1.04 to 0.00 in this period either side of half time was to be the Fermanagh purple patch though as Derry reasserted control.
With Annie Crozier now moved to midfield her promptings along with Casey McKenna in the Derry engine room allowed the Derry forwards to settle in to take a number of satisfactory scores. Cara Doherty scored another goal – this time soccer style before a Toireasa McIlroy effort came off both posts before nestling in the net.
With Kelly Logue beginning to exploit space on the right wing, her link up with Ellie McGuckin and Emma Donnelly helped create the chances for Breena O’Loughlin to plunder two goals, the second of which followed a neat side step of the outcoming goalkeeper before crashing the ball to the net. When Ellie McGuckin, and Toireasa McIlroy tagged on points Derry were in the comfort zone. A long stoppage following an incident with the Fermanagh goalkeeper did nothing to dent Derry’s resolve and when play restarted Emma Donnelly stroked the ball over the bar before Rhianna Curran who had got through a lot of work added her name to the scoresheet with a well taken goal. Further points by Toireasa McIlroy and Breena O’Loughlin meant that Derry had dominated the scoring 5.05 to 0.01 between the 3rd and 25th minute of the second half, and had the game safe. While the forwards were getting the scores the Derry defence were shutting out any Fermanagh attacks during this period. Claire Fahey and Anna Frizelle were winning possession and their clever link play with Kate Hargan, Rhianna Curran and Annie Crozier helped relieve the pressure on the Derry defence and put the Derry forwards on the front foot.
Two consolation points from Fermanagh finished the scoring, seeing Derry win on a final scoreline of Derry 8.07 Fermanagh 1.10
Team: Brenda Grant (Coleraine), Derbhla Wilson (Steelstown), Claire Fahey (Faughan Vale), Anna Frizelle (Coleraine ), Kelly Logue (Limavady), Kate Hargan (Claudy), Ciara McColgan (Faughan Vale), Casey McKenna (Ballinascreen), Ellie McGuckin (Magherafelt), Toireasa McIlroy (Limavady), Annie Crozier (Ballymaguigan), Rhianna Curran (Faughan Vale), Emma Donnelly (Steelstown), Breena O’Loughlin (Glen), Cara Doherty (Claudy)
Subs: Chloe O’Hagan (Ballinascreen) for Ellie McGuckin, Niamh Nugent (Ballymaguigan), Caitlin Wade (Steelstown), Jasmine Boyle (Steelstown), Eimear Duffy (Ballerin), Laura McLean (Steelstown)
Scorers: Cara Doherty (3.00), Breena O’Loughlin (2.03), Emma Donnelly (1.01), Toireasa McIlroy (1.02), Rhianna Curran (1.00), Ellie McGuckin (0.01)
Under 18’s draw with Fermanagh
At a windswept Slaughtmanus the Derry Under 18 Ladies Football Team played out an entertaining and hard fought draw with Fermanagh in the first round of the Ulster Under 18 Ladies Football Championship.
The Derry girls were slightly understrength as a number of players had arranged to go to Croke Park for the NFL Semi Final. However for the girls that were there this proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable match and provided a real boost to preparations for the forthcoming Antrim tie.
The Derry girls started the first half playing into a strong downfield breeze that was to dominate the game throughout. Fermanagh did muster the first few attacks but the Derry girls repelled these, winning possession in defence and forcing their opponents to shoot wide on more than one occasion. From one such interception Derry worked the ball upfield through the industrious Kelly Logue and Rhianna Curran, the ball eventually making its way to Toireasa McIlroy to open the scoring with a well taken point for the Derry girls.
It wasn’t until the tenth minute that Fermanagh got their first score and the visitors then settled to rattle over the next five points without reply. With the wind assisting the Fermanagh team, the Derry defence were under a lot of pressure but some great defending and clearances from Clare Fahey at full back helped keep the Fermanagh tally down. Deirbhle Wilson and Eimear Duffy in the corners of the defence were performing well keeping their players in check and also gave everything in the cause. The half backs of Anna Frizelle, Megan Lagan and Kelly Logue then began to exert their influence and win ball and with their clever support play they helped launch attacks from deep. From one of these the ball was worked to Emma Donnelly who fired to the net to reduce the deficit to two points. Fermanagh responded with a point but a further point from Toireasa McIlroy kept the Derry girls in touch. Another point from Fermanagh opened the gap to three before Derry were dealt what could have been a hammer blow. Fermanagh finished the half off with two quick goals to open the gap to 2.08 to 1.02 in favour of the Erne County at half-time.
In that first half Orla Flanagan and Brenda Grant were proving a good combination in the middle and their strength and continuous effort helped the Derry cause greatly. Emma Donnelly, Casey McKenna and Rhianna Curran were always available for the outlet pass and Breena O’Loughlin and Chloe O’Hagan in the corner of the attacks continuously made it difficult for Fermanagh to get easy clearances in. Toireasa McIlroy proved to be a thorn in the Fermanagh defence and scored two good points in that opening half.
With the turnaround at half time Derry introduced Rachel Roberts and Niamh Nugent to the corners of the defence replacing the injured Deirbhle Wilson and Eimear Duffy.
The second half opened with Fermanagh attacking into the breeze but much as Derry had experienced in the first half, it wasn’t easy for the Fermanagh girls. Derry worked the ball upfield and Breena O’Loughlin finished off a flowing move with a well struck point to open the second half scoring. After Emma Donnelly was fouled on the forty, Brenda Grant stood up to send a high ball into the Fermanagh goalmouth that made its way straight to the net. Derry were now dominating proceedings and Emma Donnelly stepped up to tap over two points from play to reduce the gap to three. Emma Donnelly and Breena O’Loughlin were causing problems for the Fermanagh defence and the continuous prompting from Brenda Grant, Orla Flanagan and Casey McKenna helped the Derry girls keep the pressure on. When Fermanagh did get the ball forward Rachel Roberts and Niamh Nugent were dealing with the pressure well, and Clare Fahey was time and again cutting out danger and repelling the Fermanagh attacks.
From a move through the centre the ball found its way to Toireasa McIlroy who reduced the gap to two with a fine point. Following a free in from Fermanagh that dropped short, Anna Frizelle claimed possession in the Derry defence and the ball made its way upfield via Megan Lagan and Casey McKenna to Breena O’Loughlin who finished to the net to put the Derry girls ahead. Chloe O’Hagan tagged on another point to open the gap to two, and Derry looked to be heading for a win. However the Fermanagh team called on their superior fitness levels to create a number of chances. Two points in a minute brought the teams level again. Another move downfield saw the ball fall to Breena O’Loughlin but she was denied this time by a great stop from the Fermanagh goalkeeper. Fermanagh attacked again and a great call from Caitlin Doherty in the Derry goal to come out claim possession and start an attack led to Breena O’Loughlin putting Derry ahead again with a point from play following some great interpassing up the left wing involving Kelly Logue and Emma Donnelly.
Subs Fionnuala Flanagan and Caitlin Wade were introduced for Derry and the freshness in the attack helped win possession a few times but try as they might they just couldn’t get another score to open a gap again. Fermanagh drew level with time almost up and the final chance of the game fell to Fionnuala Flanagan whose shot drifted just the wrong side of the post and so the game finished even at a scoreline of Derry 3.08 Fermanagh 2.11.
A positive and gutsy performance from the Derry girls then and they can look forward to a clash with Antrim on Saturday afternoon in a match that they should have no fear going into.
Team: Caitlin Doherty (Limavady), Eimear Duffy (Ballerin), Clare Fahey (Faughan Vale), Deirbhle Wilson (Steelstown), Anna Frizelle (Coleraine), Megan Lagan (Ballinascreen), Kelly Logue (Limavady), Orla Flanagan (Steelstown), Brenda Grant (Coleraine), Emma Donnelly (Steelstown), Casey McKenna (Ballinascreen), Rhianna Curran (Faughan Vale), Breena O’Loughlin (Glen), Toireasa McIlroy (Limavady), Chloe O’Hagan (Ballinascreen)
Subs: Niamh Nugent (Ballymaguigan) for Eimear Duffy, Racehel Roberts (Steelstown) for Deirbhle Wilson, Caitlin Wade (Steelstown) for Chloe O’Hagan, Fionnuala Flanagan (Steelstown) for Toireasa McIlroy.
Scorers: Breena O’Loughlin (1.02), Emma Donnelly (1.02), Toireasa MCilroy (0.03), Brenda Grant (1.00), Chloe O’Hagan (0.01)