Crosserlough reclaim Keating Cup with final success

Ladies SFC final

Crosserlough 2-16

Lurgan 1-13

On Saturday afternoon last as the rain cleared Lurgan and Crosserlough went head to head for the Michelle Keating Cup in front of a large and loud crowd. Both sides came through the ‘group of death’ with Mullahoran and Killygarry with Crosserlough holding the upper hand when the sides met in the group.

Crosserlough qualified for their fourth senior final in a row after beating Templeport in the semi-final. For Lurgan this was their first final of the decade, having been the dominant side of the previous one, and they brushed Gowna aside in their final four encounter to qualify to the big day.

Edith Lynch opened the scoring in the fourth minute with a point from in the pocket behind Niamh Daly who doubled the Lurgan lead with a free a minute later. Crosserlough weren’t going to let Lurgan race ahead and two points from Sinead McKenna, the second while being tackled, saw the sides level after nine minutes.

With scores coming in fast, Clara Lynch sent over the bar when a goal chance looked on but within a minute a neat side step by Muireann Cusack saw her level matters once more. Niamh Daly and Lauren McVeety traded frees as the end-to-end flow of the game continued.

Crosserlough centre-forward Áine Smith punted the ball over the bar and before the water break Muireann Cusack gathered a free dropping short to send over her second of the day.

With Lurgan trailing by two points for the first time, manager Emmett Daly rallied the girls in green for the start of the second quarter.

A super Catherine Dolan run from midfield put the Crosserlough defence on high alert. As Dolan saw the Crosserlough defence close in, she slipped the ball to Niamh Daly who was taken down inside the square. Daly stepped up and calmly placed the spot kick into the back of Cara Reilly’s net to edge Lurgan into a one-point lead.

Crosserlough captain Shauna Lynch and Player of the Match Kate Smith. Photo by Adrian Donohoe

Crosserlough, who lost last year’s final, reacted like champions with youngster Kate Smith sending over her first point of the game from the resulting kick-out. Keeping the pressure on Lurgan, midfielder Orla Smith drove forward before passing neatly to Kate Smith who hit the back of the net with her trusted right boot.

On the 24th minute, a Lauren McVeety free ended a run of three scores for Crosserlough that turned a one-point deficit into a four-point lead. The nimble foot work of Clara Lynch created enough space for her point from 30 metres for Lurgan but the Crosserlough girls had found top gear and were soon back in front of goals.

A McVeety free and a third score for Kate Smith after a McVeety run and pass saw Crosserlough lead by five points with the first half entering injury time. A super kick pass by Catherine Dolan found Aoife Brady who hooked the ball over the bar before the short whistle sounded, leaving Lurgan behind on a score line of 1-10 to 1-6 after an entertaining first half.

Mark Greaney’s side extended their lead inside the first minute of the second half as Kate Smith maneuvered out of a crowded area to send over the bar. A Laura Keogan point for Lurgan interrupted a perfect start to the second half for Crosserlough.

Three points in quick succession from Player of the Match Kate Smith, Sinead McKenna and Muireann Cusack saw the gap widen to seven points. Crosserlough’s ability to put a run of scores together on a number of occasions left them in a controlling position.

With 12 minutes played in the second half, Lurgan hit their first purple patch as they went on a four-score rally. Aoife Brady’s left-footed point followed by a Niamh Daly free left five between the sides. Crosserlough’s Niamh Reilly was then sent to the sin bin on the 17th minute giving Lurgan a 10-minute window with a numerical advantage.

Another Niamh Daly free left just four points between the sides at the second water break as Lurgan worked their way back into contention. On the resumption of play, Lurgan broke forward to heap the pressure on Crosserlough. Roisin Dolan looked to have bagged a massive goal for Lurgan but Cara Reilly bravely saved which seemed to wake up the Crosserlough defence.

After an eight-minute spell without a score, a fifth Niamh Daly free left just a goal between the sides but also signalled the return of Niamh Reilly from the sin bin. The brilliant Kate Smith showed super agility to bring her personal tally for the day to 1-5 with a really well taken individual point.

With three minutes of ordinary time remaining, Ciara Boylan sent over for Crosserlough, leaving five points between the sides. With Lurgan chasing hard, half a goal chance fell to Éabha Hayes but her shot rose high and over the bar.

With the game in injury time, a goal at either end was going to make the game or finish it. And the all-important score came after Lauren McVeety passed to Muireann Cusack in behind the Lurgan defense and in an attempt to get back, the Lurgan defence brought down Cusack in the square. Referee Conor Dourneen awarded the penalty and McVeety placed the ball low to the left corner of the net.

Kate Smith shoots under pressure from Ciara Brady.

The final score of the game came a minute later from Laura Keogan but only served as a consolation point as the final whistle sounded. Crosserlough captain Shauna Lynch lift the Michelle Keating cup for the second time in four years.

Crosserlough: Cara Reilly, Ciara Shalvey, Christina Charters, Aileen Gaffney, Lauren Ellis, Shauna Lynch, Lorna O’Reilly, Neasa Byrd, Orla Smith, Lauren McVeety (1-3, 1-0 pen, 3f), Áine Smith (0-1), Sineád McKenna (0-3), Hannah Boylan, Muireann Cusack, Kate Smith (1-5)

Subs: Ciara Boylan (0-1) for Hannah Boylan, Niamh Reilly for Áine Smith

Lurgan: Evelyn Baugh, Sineád Kelly, Ciara Brady, Roisin Dolan, Micheala Dolan, Eimear Corcoran, Niamh Tolan, Emma Tolan, Catherine Dolan, Kate McCrystal, Edith Lynch (0-1), Clara Lynch (0-2), Laura ,Keogan (0-2), Aoife Brady (0-2), Niamh Daly(1-5, 1-0 pen, 5f)

Subs: Éabha Hayes(0-1) for Kate McCrystal, Casey McDermott for Clara Lynch, Eimear Gilsenan for Niamh Tolan.