Lurgan reclaim ladies senior crown

Ladies Senior Football Championship final

Lurgan 2-11

Killygarry 1-11

Goals from Catherine Dolan and Aoife Brady proved crucial as Lurgan ladies won their seventh Senior Championship title in a high-quality decider at Kingspan Breffni.

This was a clash of an experienced Lurgan side, boosted by the arrival of some talented young players, and a youthful Killygarry team who were playing in their first senior final. In the end, Lurgan’s know-how and class proved pivotal as they stayed calm under pressure late on and, despite some poor shooting at times, came up with big scores when they were needed to claim the Michelle Keating Cup for the first time since 2018.

Lurgan played with the wind at their backs in the first half, at the end of which they held a slender 1-5 to 1-3 advantage.

Lurgan’s goal came in the 17th minute when the outstanding Catherine Dolan picked up the ball 45 metres out and tore through the heart of the defence before finding the net. That major gave Emmet Daly’s charges a 1-2 to 1-1 lead after Killygarry captain Ally Cahill had earlier rattled the net at the other end.

The game began – and indeed, remained – at a high tempo, with both sides moving the ball at pace and lots of skilful attacking play on show. Edith Lynch opened the scoring with a left-footed point for Lurgan but Killygarry tore into the lead in the second minute when Cahill gathered a pass from Niamh O’Shea and tucked away to the net.

A Deirbhile Lynch free extended the advantage for Seamus Lynch’s Killygarry but Lurgan kept on probing and creating opportunities. A Clara Lynch free, after a foul on Aoife Brady, was followed by that terrific Dolan goal which really set the would-be winners on their way.

Player of the Match Laura Keogan kicked the first of her five points in the 19th minute after good work from Dolan and Aoife Brady and when Lynch fisted over, again after good play from Dolan, Lurgan found themselves three points to the good.

They could have extended that lead further but Killygarry goalkeeper Elaine Walsh saved well from Lynch and Killygarry then bounced back with a strong finish to the half. Cahill played a captain’s part with two super scores before the accurate Keogan rounded off the first-half scoring with another effort off the left to leave two between the teams at the midway point.

Aisling Walls opened the second-half scoring with a point after playing a one-two with O’Shea and when county player Geraldine Smith, playing in a sweeper role, sent over moments later, the Crubany-based side were level.

The nip and tuck nature of proceedings continued as Keogan sent over a free for Lurgan which was cancelled out by another point for the impressive Ally Cahill.

Elaine Walsh again saved, this time from Dolan, but on 38 minutes, Lurgan nipped in front again when Keogan pointed after receiving a pass from Lynch.

Killygarry corner-forward Sinead Levingstone was next to register, scoring off the left to level the contest once more but the crucial score would arrive in the 45th minute.

Edith Lynch eyes her options as Aoibheann Morrisson closes in. Photo: Adrian Donohoe. Photo by Adrian Donohoe Photography 0863716199

Dolan set off on another powerful run and transferred the ball to Aoife Brady, who rolled home a cool finish to leave three between the teams.

Deirbhile Lynch (two) and Clara Lynch exchanged frees as Killygarry, seeking to close the gap, pressed forward. However, Lurgan kept their composure; Geraldine Smith pointed again but Keogan sent over a brace in reply.

As the clock ticked down, Deirbhile Lynch had a free for Killygarry but the final score fell to Lurgan dual star Niamh Tolan, who split the posts to secure a three-point win for her side.

Lurgan: Evelyn Baugh, Kristina Gregienko, Cora McDonnell, Sinead Kelly, Roisin Dolan, Ciara Brady, Eimear Corcoran, Niamh Tolan (0-1), Caoimhe Halpin, Eabha Hayes, Clara Lynch (0-3, 2f), Catherine Dolan

(1-0), Edith Lynch (0-1), Aoife Brady (1-0), Laura Keogan (0-6, 1f)

Subs: Emma Tolan for A Brady (54 mins), Sydney Gregg for C McDonnell (60), Ellen O’Donoghue for E Hayes (60)

Killygarry: Elaine Walsh, Aoibheann Morrison, Eimear Cahill, Gráinne Cahill, Kaioni Tu;ipulotu, Nicola Fortune, Clodagh Kennedy, Ally Cahill (1-3), Deirbhile Lynch (0-4f), Eimear Connolly, Dearbhla Brady, Aisling Walls (0-1), Geraldine Smith (0-2), Niamh O’Shea, Sinead Levingstone (0-1)

Subs: Kate McManus for E Connolly (38 mins), Maeve Young for N O’Shea (54)

Ref: Gerry Sheridan (Mullahoran)