The Croft Came Up Short Against A Mature St. Maur in Leinster Junior Club Championship Final
LGFA Leinster Junior Championship Final
Kilbrggan Co Westmeath. 2 pm. 23 Oct 2016
Suncroft 0:09(09) St. Maurs 2:12(18)
There was a strong wind and rain falling on the journey to Kilbeggan but the forecast was for a dry afternoon by the time the 2pm throw in came around the rain had passed but the wind was still strong and it was bitterly cold. The weather might have been unfriendly but there was a very large contingent of Suncroft supporters at the game. It was this young Suncroft teams first year playing Junior A football in Kildare and their youth and strength would be tested by a mature St Maurs outfit who were Junior A runners up in Dublin in 2014 and 2015 before getting it over the line in 2016.
St. Maurs won the toss and elected to take full advantage of the wind in the first half. Referee Cathy Forde from Wicklow threw in the ball and the battle commenced.
St Maurs got on the attack from the throw in and played the ball down the left and strong defending by Muireann Fagan resulted in a free. St Maurs dropped the free short but won possession and pointed to put the first score on the board. St Maurs won the ball from the kick out and went on the attack and pointed from distance with the aid of the wind. Nicole Dooley won the ball from the kick out, went on a long run, had a shot but, unfortunately the wind caught the ball and pulled it wide. After a bit of a tussle in the middle of the field Ellen Dowling made her way forward with the ball and was fouled. The wind again took hold of the ball from Dowling’s free and pulled it wide. St Maurs worked the ball down the left, quick pass into the centre and a shot knocked over the bar by the Crofts goalkeeper Rebecca McGuirk. St Maurs Megan Foley had moved out to centre forward and her speed was causing all kinds of problems. Stephanie Hayes made a great run into space but unfortunately the wind and the greasy ground resulted in McGuirks kick out skidding over the side line. St Maurs worked the ball in from the side line and pointed again. The kick out got caught in the wind again and Paula Browne intercepted a St Maurs pass. A strong St Maurs presence resulted in a free which they scored. The wind was making it really hard for the Croft to get the ball out of defence. Sarah Browne intercepted another St. Maurs attack and cleared to the middle but again St Maurs got on the ball and pointed from distance. The Croft pressed hard for the next few minutes but failed to break down the St Maurs defence. St Maurs got the ball and quickly moved it down the left side, in to the middle and left Muireann Fagan 3 on 1 and St Maurs got their first goal. Another long run from the middle and shot from distance and St Maurs pushed further ahead. Megan Troy picked up the kick out and with support from Eve Kehoe worked it up the wing to Trina Duggan and Nicole Dooley. The ball crossed to the left to Ellen Dowling and then to the right to Carla Ennis who got the Crofts first score of the game just on the nineteenth minutes. Trina Duggan won the ball from the kick out and worked it to Dowling who got the Crofts second point. The Croft had had two points and two wides in this period and it looked like they were getting to grips with the game but then St Maurs got forward again and got another three points and a goal to make it 2:09(15) to 0:02(2) at the break.
St Maurs had used the wind to their advantage and with a fast forward six had got themselves passed the half back line and into 2 on 1 and 3 on 1 scoring positions too often. All six St Maurs forwards scored and were capable of scoring which didn’t leave The Croft with many options for swaps or changes.
Unfortunately for The Croft the wind had eased up a bit by the time the second half was under way but the half time encouragement had worked and the Croft put in a much better second half performance. Ellen Dowling pointed and her point was quickly followed by another from Trina Duggan. St Maurs came back with two points before Nicole Dooley got the Crofts third of the second half, 10 minutes in. Not letting big sis take all the glory Aislinn Dooley, who had covered a lot of ground since coming on in the first half, pointed for the Croft on 20 minutes. Rebecca Johnson then got in for her first point. 25 minutes into the second half St Maurs got their third and last point of the half. The Croft were pressing hard to get in on goal, to close the first half deficit, but the St Maurs defence was rock solid and the Croft had to be satisfied with points. Aislinn Dooley and Ellen Dowling both scored again before the end of the game but despite a valiant effort, using all the subs, and outscoring St Maurs, in the second half the Croft just couldn’t get enough points to close the gap. St Maurs 2:12(18) to Suncroft 0:09(9).
Eadaoin McGuinness in the middle for St Maurs was outstanding and between herself and Olivia Leonard kept Trina Duggan and Sophie Hobbs busy in the middle of the field. The Crofts forward six did well, five different scorers, when they had the ball and despite having the attention of a number of players Ellen Dowling still managed to get onto the scoreboard and set up some scores. St Maurs forward were fast, able to score, and pass but when the wind wasn’t a factor the Croft’s back six were up to the task and put in a fantastic second half.
Unfortunately, just one of those days for the Croft. Not one breaking ball came the Crofts way, the wind changed from half to half, a bit of nerves at the beginning and no luck at all. On a good day and with a bit of luck the Croft could have taken them but on this day the team that played the best football, St. Maurs, came out deserving winners.
Panel: Rebecca McGuirk, Paula Browne, Muireann Fagan, Sarah Browne, Eve Kehoe, Anna O’Modhraine, Chloe Foy, Abbie Lea Pool, Caoimhe Doyle, Trina Duggan (1), Sophie Hobbs, Nicole Dooley (1), Carla Ennis (1), Rebecca Johnson (1), Lorraine Foy, Stephanie Hayes, Aislinn Dooley (2), Ellen Dowling (3), Megan Troy, Ciara Fennelly. Ellen Enright, Kate O’Donnell.
Mentors: Noel Poole, Owen Fagan, Alan Phelan, Sandra Johnson.
The Croft Ladies arrived back in Suncroft in and open top bus and with a Garda escort to get them through the large crowd of proud supporters that had gathered in the village to acknowledge their efforts and achievements in recent years. 2015 and 2016 county league and champions doubles and reaching the Leinster Final. Open air music on a bandstand, speeches, food and beverages. A fantastic night had by all.