The Ardee St Marys/St Mochtas Under 16 Girls team fell just short of Championship glory tonight as they went down 2-05 to 1-02 in the LGFA Louth Ladies A Championship final at a dark and damp Pairc Roiste.
Despite Kayla Byrne’s goal and Mia Duffy’s two points, the outfit from Cooley just proved too strong for the Girls from Mid-Louth in the end. You couldn’t fault the girls for fight and spirit but the side from the Peninsula were a bigger and stronger in several areas and with an in-form half forward in Niamh Rice in their side, they were able to see the game out to win through.
They lead 1-02 to 0-00 at half time but there was very, very little between the teams at that point in truth. Duffy was very unlucky to be denied an opening Marys/Mochtas score. She dropped a free short before a point effort hit the post and then was narrowly wide from play.
Seven minutes were on the lock when Rice’s free dropped short but on a slippy night, it went through the hands of the last back and into the net. Byrne’s pass set up Duffy but again she could consider herself unfortunate with a narrow wide.
Two Cooley frees were converted before the break and while the team in Blue were getting the ball in dangerous forward areas, with Katie Jennings and Byrne impressing, the ball just wasn’t falling for them at crucial times. Kelly Callaghan made a crucial intervention before the whistle to stop a further Cooley score.
The wisdom imposed by Ronan Shevlin and his mentor team – John Jennings, Gabriel Clarke, Aidan Mooney, Joe Whyte, Vicky Lennon and Julie Murtagh – looked to have yielded results early in the second half. Hannah Woods found herself in a race with Cooley goalkeeper Trinity Larkin. A goal chance beckoned but Larkin got a crucial foot in to deny a first score for the combination.
Moments later, Kayla Byrne’s effort dropped over Larkin and into the net to the delight of the Marys/Mochtas sideline and the travelling support too. Jasmine Carroll did well to turn a goalbound effort around the post at the other end.
But no sooner had the Marys/Mochtas found the net, Rice did so again for Cooley. She surged through the backline and showed her class with an emphati finish. That left things at 2-02 to 1-00. She would add too further points late on.
Duffy found her midfield partner Ellen Carolan with a short pass but her point attempt went just wide and Marys’ heads never dropped, to their immense credit. Kate Englishby, Kate Taaffe and Shauna Lennon were among those doing stellar work in the backs. Dyonne Matthews was making her presence felt too.
After Jennings’ cleverly took a quick free, Duffy turned and put over and seconds late, she split the posts with a free. With ten minutes to go, the Marys/Mochtas had their tails up but Rice pointed again and a further score but the game beyond them.
The entire Championship campaign is something the girls and their trainers and mentors should be proud of. They beat Cooley on the way there – which proves they can cut it. Friday night didn’t go their way, but many will return to go again next year and they’ll be determined to go much further.
“If you have never seen failure, you have never seen success,” a section of their dressing room reads back in Ardee. That is more apt then ever. Reaching a Championship final – and the achievement of getting there – shouldn’t be sniffed it.
ST MARYS/ST MOCHTAS: Jasmine Carroll, Kate Taaffe, Ellie Mullane Carroll, Kelly Callaghan, Erin Shevlin, Kate Englishby, Shauna Lennon, Mia Duffy, Ellen Carolan, Katie Jennings, Hannah Callan, Ciara Callan (Niamh Whyte, 38), Hannah Woods (Caitlin Carroll, 36), Kayla Byrne, Dyonne Matthews.
Subs Not Used: Sophie McAllister, Tamara Crawley, Aoife Campbell, Lois Leavy, Ciara Skelly, Laoise McCoy.