Kilbride go from underdogs to top dogs!

Truly Irish Roscommon Ladies Football Senior Club Final: Kilbride 6-9 St. Brigids 2-9

Kilbride ladies footballers made history in Knockcroghery last Saturday when, appearing in their first senior final, they swept to their first ever title, playing some of the most exciting and exhilarating football that this reporter had seen in many a long day. St. Brigid’s contributed to a superb game as well, but they had no answer to the fleet-footed and superbly coached Kilbride side who won the title in magnificent style.

  Played before the biggest crowd seen at a ladies county final in many years, and on an overcast but dry evening both sides served up a feast of attacking football. After a slow start, Kilbride exploded into the game and while they had several superb performers, I am sure they won’t complain if I single out Siobhán Tully for special mention. The diminutive Roscommon county player was simply unmarkable on the day. Her work rate, searing pace and superb ball skills were worth the admission fee alone, and even St. Brigid’s team officials admitted after the game that they just couldn’t handle her on the day. Not far behind was Tara Taylor who put on an exhibition of midfield play throughout for the winners.

  In fact, it was St. Brigid’s who started the game much the better side and after 10 minutes they led by 0-4 to no score with Claire O’Brien (3, 2 frees) and Claire Grehan the scorers. But once Siobhan Tully started to win possession, Kilbride were in business. In the 11th minute she burst through on a 50-metre solo run before setting up Eilish Fannon to blast to the Brigid’s net.

   But in fairness to the Kiltoom girls they were back four points ahead in the 14th minute when Jenny Conlon got in for a very well taken goal. The action was unrelenting now as both sides went at it hammer and tongs. In the 16th minute Niamh Shanagher did the spadework and Siobhán Tully did the rest to score her side’s second goal. But Brigid’s were still well in the game and by the 28th minute they led by 1-6 to 2-1. But two goals and a point before the break proved decisive from Kilbride.

  In the 29th minute it was Siobhán Tully again with a blistering run into the danger area and she lost possession before getting the ball back and shooting home a super goal. A minute later a long-range free from Tara Taylor was grabbed by Fiona Tully who found the top corner with a great finish. A Niamh Shanagher point in the fifth minute of injury-time meant that the half-time score was Kilbride 4-2 St Brigid’s 1-6.

  Kilbride played some devastating attacking football in the third quarter, which ended this game as a contest. Early points from Eilish Fannon (free) and Casey Keane extended their lead before they scored as good a goal as has been seen at any level this year. Tara Taylor sent Casey Keane in on goal and the Kilbride youngster cooly chipped the advancing Brigid’s goalkeeper Sarah Finnerty for a sensational goal. It was breathtaking skill in the pressure cooker environment of a county final. When goal number six, a fisted effort from Fiona Tully after a brilliant pass from Tara Taylor, arrived in the 41st minute, it was all over as Kilbride led by 15 points, 6-7 to 1-7.

  In fairness to St. Brigid’s they never stopped trying and Jenny Conlon got through for their second goal with 10 minutes left but the game was over and the cup was headed for Kilbride at that stage. It was a brave effort but they were outclassed on the day.

  For the winners, aside from the brilliant Siobhán Tully, Aoife Feeley, Maire Lohan and Rochelle Mullanney and Katie Kelly were excellent in defence. Tara Taylor was outstanding at midfield, while up front Fiona Tully, Eilish Fannon and Casey Keane were all very prominent. For St. Brigid’s, Claire O’Brien, Claire Grehan, Aine O’Brien and Jenny Conlon were best.

Kilbride: Lorraine Connor; Aoife Feeley, Maire Lohan, Yvonne Creighton; Alice Kelly, Rochelle Mullanney, Katie Kelly; Niamh Shanagher (0-2), Tara Taylor; Siobhán Tully (2-1), Eilish Fannon (1-3), Fiona Tully (2-0); Blathin O’Beirne, Sinead Clabby (0-1), Casey Keane (1-2). Subs: Ciara Taylor for Kelly (54), Corina Gormley for Clabby (59), Amanda Gavigan for T Taylor (63).

St. Brigid’s: Sarah Finnerty; Shauna Francis, Fiona Gavin, Alaine Morris; Kate Nolan, Chrissie O’Malley, Karen O’Boyle; Katie McDonnell, Claire O’Brien (0-7, 5 frees); Emma Lydon, Claire Grehan (0-2), Sarah O’Rourke; Lauran Curran, Aine O’Brien, Jenny Conlon (2-0). Subs: Rachel Gallagher for O’Boyle (35), Sarah Byrne for Francis (55), Niamh Sweeney for Lydon (65).

Referee: Francie Keane