Abbey Hotel Ladies’ SFC: Kilbride 6-11 Strokestown 1-5
Kilbride ladies retained their senior championship title in emphatic style, having 21 points to spare over neighbours Strokestown.
It was pretty much one-way traffic throughout in a game played in difficult conditions on Saturday evening in Knockcroghery. It caps off an incredible two years for Kilbride who have now won back to back league and championship titles.
Poor weather conditions contributed to a low-quality first half. Strokestown started the brighter, with Niamh McHugh opening the scoring with an excellent solo score. However that’s as good as it got for Strokestown. They couldn’t live with Kilbride’s dynamic attacking and were punished seven minutes in when Sinead Clabby fired the ball into the roof of the net. That was the start of a great day for Clabby, who would end the day with two more goals to her name. She got her second soon after, showing great bravery to get to the breaking ball before goalkeeper Maire Mullooly.
Siobhan Tully scored a fine point running through the heart of the Strokestown defence before her sister Fiona found the net after showing great perseverance in winning the ball back in the build-up. Aisling Hanley replied with a free to leave it Kilbride 3-2 Strokestown 0-2 at the break.
Any hope of a Strokestown comeback diminished very quickly as Kilbride scored 3-5 without reply in the first twelve minutes of the second half.
Goals from Niamh Shanagher, Sinead Clabby and Eilish Fannon put the game beyond Strokestown. The goals, along with two points from Fiona Tully and one apiece from Shanagher, Fannon and the hard-working Siobhan Tully, capped off a devastating third quarter for Kilbride.
Aisling MacAuliffe and Niamh McHugh did manage to get through the very well organised Kilbride defence with a point each with ten minutes of play left.
Further excellent attacking play from Kilbride led to points from Fiona Tully, Casey Keane, Blathin O’Beirne and Eilish Fannon.
Strokestown did get a consolation goal in the final minute through Eleanor Hanley but it was a case of too little too late for them.
Manager Ollie Lennon said they knew they were the best team in the county but weren’t underestimating the challenge they faced.
“We said at the start of the year, the hardest thing to do is to get back into the final and then the next thing is to defend the title.”
He went on to say: “We went through the year unbeaten, we knew we were the best team in the county, but a final is a different day.
“The girls carried out today exactly what we’ve been asking them to do for the last couple of weeks and some of the football played is some of the best we’ll see on any pitch on Roscommon this year.”
Kilbride will now play the Mayo champions in the Connacht semi-final, a challenge that Lennon says they will “relish.”
“Last year we missed out on the Connacht final and a chance to play Cornacon, but these girls will relish playing one of the top senior teams in the country.”
Kilbride: Lorraine Connor; Ciara Taylor, Yvonne Creighton, Jennifer Fannon; Alice Kelly, Rochelle Mullaney, Katie Kelly; Tara Taylor, Eilish Fannon (1-3); Siobhan Tully (0-2), Fiona Tully (1-3), Niamh Shanagher (1-1); Casey Keane (0-1), Blaithin O’Beirne (0-1, 1 free), Sinead Clabby (3-0). Subs used: Corina Gormley for Clabby, Lorna Flanagan for C Taylor, Maire Lohan for Keane, Niamh Tully for K Kelly.
Strokestown: Maire Mullooly; Ellen Beirne, Colleen Cauneen, Feena Beirne; Bronagh McHugh, Rebecca Mullooly, Aoife Shiel; Sarah Brudell, Aisling MacAuliffe (0-2); Niamh McHugh (0-2), Jill Mullooly, Triona Kelly; Eleanor Hanley (1-0), Aisling Hanley (0-1, 1 free), Cora Devine. Subs used: Chelsea Devine for J Mullooly, Niamh Beirne for A Hanley, Joanna Regan for R Mullooly.
Referee: Turlough Bruen.