DUBLIN JUNIOR ‘F’ LADIES FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL
ROUND TOWER LUSK…………………………………3-11
NA GAEIL OGA…………………………………………..2-5
By Daire Walsh
Sophie O’Hara registered a magnificent personal haul of 2-6 at Blunden Drive on Wednesday evening to propel Round Tower Lusk towards an impressive victory over Na Gaeil Oga in the Dublin Junior ‘F’ Ladies Football Championship decider.
Despite a difficult start to the contest, the north county outfit eventually settled into their stride. Supplementing O’Hara’s opening period brace, Jessica Grimes grabbed a goal on the resumption to ensure Towers remained in the driving seat.
Central attacker Niamh Thornton led the Na Gaeil Oga resistance - Anna Ni Uiginn also found the net in the closing moments - but they could never quite rein in the challenge of their Thomas Ashe Park counterparts.
Both teams had progressed to this showpiece encounter at O’Toole’s GAA with unbeaten records in this year’s competition. Having topped their respective groups, they were pushed all the way in last week’s high-scoring semi-finals.
Towers were 6-7 to 4-11 victors at the expense of St Oliver Plunkett’s/Eoghan Ruadh, while Na Gaeil Oga had a single point to spare (4-9 to 3-11) at the end of their intriguing battle with Clontarf ‘C’. There was little to separate the sides on paper, but it was Na Gaeil Oga who had the better of the early exchanges.
After Thornton traded points with O’Hara, the dynamic centre-forward converted a free off her trusty right foot. The direct running style of Amanda Treanor was a notable feature of Oga's play and her ninth-minute point preceded Thornton’s third of the tie.
Towers served notice of their attacking threat when inside forward Allanah Harford fired marginally past the target in the 11th-minute. However, they finally raised a green flag just shy of the first-quarter mark.
Tara Doyle was upended by Julie Ni Bhreathnach inside the square and O’Hara fired the resulting spot-kick beyond the reach of Sinead Ni Dhurcain. This helped to galvanise John Kiely’s charges and with O’Hara’s influence continuing to grow, they edged into the ascendancy.
O’Hara’s excellent approach work released Doyle for her maiden point of the night and Grimes also found the range for an increasingly-confident Towers. Na Gaeil Oga were not out of the reckoning just yet, though, and they responded to these set-backs with a second goal on the stroke of 30 minutes.
Another outstanding Treanor run provided the platform for Thornton to finish from close-range. Though they were aiming to push on for the remainder of the half, it was Towers instead who discovered an extra gear.
At the end of another memorable surge through the heart of the opposition defence, O’Hara unleashed an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net. She also added a pointed free to her ever-expanding individual tally and with Jen Magee and Doyle clipping scores either side of it, Towers brought a commanding 2-6 to 1-4 cushion into the break.
They further extended their cushion straight after the restart as O’Hara kicked another superb point from play. This was the only score during the third-quarter, which proved to be rather scrappy and tentative for the most part.
This certainly suited Towers given the six-point advantage they had at their disposal, although they breathed a sigh of relief when Georgia Shanley smothered Aoife O’Sullivan’s goal-bound strike in the 39th-minute.
Inevitably, it was O’Hara who ended the lengthy scoring drought - her latest free moving Towers a step closer to putting their seal on the title. Indeed, the final outcome was effectively determined with 12 minute of normal time still remaining.
Grimes gathered possession close to the goal and clinically extended the Towers lead into double digits with a neat angled finish. Back-to-back points for O’Hara and substitute Ciana Downes offered them additional leeway, before Na Gaeil Oga finally hit back through Treanor’s second point of the action.
To their credit, Na Gaeil Oga persevered as the proceedings moved into six minutes of stoppage-time. O’Hara had split the posts on the hour mark for her concluding score of the night, but the hard-working Ni Uiginn ensured her side ended on a positive note with a three-pointer at the death.
Yet, this did little to temper the celebrations of a jubilant Round Tower Lusk.
Scorers - Round Tower Lusk: Sophie O’Hara 2-6 (1-0 pen, 0-3f), Jessica Grimes 1-1, Tara Doyle 0-2, Jen Magee, Ciana Downes 0-1 each. Na Gaeil Oga: Niamh Thornton 1-3 (0-2f), Anna Ni Uiginn 1-0, Amanda Treanor 0-2.
ROUND TOWER LUSK: Georgia Shanley; Orla McMahon, Jenny Hanratty, Ciara Curran; Ciara Lawless, Davina Neary, Amy Clarke; Meghan Kiely, Evanna Niall; Hannah Dempsey, Sophie O’Hara, Jen Magee; Allanah Harford, Jessica Grimes, Tara Doyle. Subs: Grace Codd for Harford (19), Ciana Downes for Doyle (47), Bronagh Neary for Lawless (48).
NA GAEIL OGA: Sinead Ni Dhurcain; Natasha Duignan, Julie Ni Bhreathnach, Ciara de Brun; Fiona Brennan, Gretta Mohan, Una Swinburne; Orlaith Doherty, Anna Ni Uiginn; Amanda Treanor, Niamh Thornton, Aisling McGinley; Cliodhna Esslemont, Saoirse Ni Shuilleabhain, Kate Ni Chonfhaola. Subs: Aoife O’Sullivan for Esslemont (half-time), Caoileann Nic Dhonnchadha for McGinley (37), Mary Ni Dhuill for Thornton (58), Eithne Ni Chonchubhair for Ni Chonfhaola (59), Lauren Ni Loingsigh for Duignan (60).
Referee: Reg Harbron (St Anne’s).Tweet