SCOIL Chríost Rí, Portlaoise are just sixty minutes away from All-Ireland glory following their dramatic victory over Scoil Bhríde Mercy, Tuam in the Tesco HomeGrown All-Ireland PP Senior ‘C’ ladies football semi-final at St Rynagh’s Park, Banagher last Saturday.
Scoil Chríost Rí 2-11
Scoil Bhríde Mercy 2-8
This game had everything – fantastic scores and saves. A penalty scored and another saved. Both sides tested the strength of the cross-bar and for pure honesty and endeavour this was a thoroughly enjoyable encounter packed with pure football.
Chríost Rí, while they enjoyed superiority in terms of possession and territory, incredibly trailed twice (2-3 to 2-4 after 24 minutes & 2-5 to 2-6 after 34 minutes). However they weren’t adrift for very long and it was this gutsy spirit and belief in their own ability that saw them emerge triumphant.
The sides were level on four separate occasions and on the last of these, 2-8 apiece, Chríost Rí net-minder Fiona Kelly produced a top drawer save that kept her side’s prospects alive and kicking. Her diving right foot save kept Shauna Hynes’ point-blank shot out and Chríost Rí polished off the job with three points in the closing ten minutes from Aine Fitzpatrick (2) and Laura Whelan.
Fitzpatrick was brilliant for the winners. She contributed a personal haul of 1-6 and she would have added to her tally but for Scoil Bhríde custodian Aoife Creaven who saved a 52nd minute penalty from her and the Tuam number one also smothered an attempted Fitzpatrick strike. In the 28th minute she crashed a shot against the cross-bar and she was also denied five minutes earlier.
So the powerful and skilful full forward could have added four more goals tally and as it was, she tormented the Scoil Bhríde defence and they deployed a number of different markers on her in an attempt to curtail her influence.
Chríost Rí led 1-3 (Aine Fitzpatrick racked up 1-2 of this & Claire Dollard the other point) to nil after 9 minutes as they threatened to blow their opponents out of sight but in the 25th minute Darina Keane slotted home a Scoil Bhríde penalty, thereby giving the Connacht champions a 2-4 to 2-3 advantage.
Chríost Rí resiliently responded and points by Anna Fitzgibbon and Aine Fitzpatrick ensured the Portlaoise girls led by 2-5 to 2-4 at the half-time break. Chríost Rí, whose second goal came in the 21st minute when Aisling Bohan’s speculative shot looped into the net, should have been considerably further ahead but they didn’t execute all their chances. They’d six first half wides (five more than Scoil Bhríde) and the overall wides tally was 11-4.
For the concluding half Chríost Rí introduced Orla Phelan and she along with Anna Healy shared the task of marking Scoil Bhríde’s exceptionally talented half forward Shauna Hynes. In the third minute of injury-time, with three points between the sides, Hynes went for goal from a 20m free but the ball flew off her boot and wide. She was distraught but she needn’t have been as she was responsible for keeping her team in contention for so long. Hynes scored 1-2 and her sizzling solo runs caused plenty of headaches for Chríost Rí.
Points by Darina Keane and Mairead Duffy (free) helped Scoil Bhríde regain the lead within four minutes of the resumption, 2-6 to 2-5. Chríost Rí equalised through the accuracy of Aine Fitzpatrick and further points by Laura Whelan and Aisling Bohan (free) made it 2-8 to 2-6 after 42 minutes. Scoil Bhríde heads didn’t drop and they levelled matters for the fourth occasion (2-8 apiece) with points by Duffy (after Keane’s initial shot rebounded off the bar) and Aisling Hynes.
Chríost Rí ‘keeper Fiona Kelly then took centre stage as her heroics inspired her colleagues to go and secure an All-Ireland Final place against Virginia College.
Chríost Rí had stars throughout the pitch. Fiona Kelly was very dependable between the uprights, while Kellie Preston, Anna Healy and Aoife Conroy defended resolutely. Claire Dollard and Aoidean Delaney were very industrious at mid-field, and while Aine Fitzpatrick was the pick of the attack, she was well supported by Anna Fitzgibbon and Laura Whelan.
After a very nervous start, Scoil Bhríde recovered well and they’d fine performances from Shauna Hynes, Darina Keane, Aoife Quinn and Aisling Hynes.
Scorers: Scoil Chriost Ri: Aine Fitzpatrick 1-6 (0-1f); Aisling Bohan 1-1 (0-1f); Laura Whelan 0-2; Claire Dollard 0-1, Anna Fitzgibbon 0-1. Scoil Bhride, Tuam: Shauna Hynes 1-2; Darina Keane 1-1 (1-0 pen), Mairead Duffy 0-3 (0-2f), Niamh Molloy 0-1, Aisling Hynes 0-1
Scoil Chríost Rí, Portlaoise: Fiona Kelly; Kellie Preston, Aoife Conroy, Niamh Dunne; Anna Healy, Sarah Phelan, Laura Corcoran; Aoidean Delaney (c), Claire Dollard; Orla Carroll, Anna Fitzgibbon, Fiona Dooley; Laura Whelan, Aine Fitzpatrick, Aisling Bohan. Sub.: Orla Phelan for N Dunne (half time).
Scoil Bhríde Mercy, Tuam: Aoife Creaven; Jenny Long, Sarah Keane (capt.), Laura Reilly; Chelsea Blade, Roisin Hession, Aisling Hynes; Aoife Quinn, Nicola Costello; Darina Keane, Caoimhe Moran; Mairead Duffy, Niamh Duffy. Subs.: Sharon Devaney for M Duffy (53 mins), Eva Higgins for N Molloy (59 mins). Referee: Keith Delahunty, Tipperary.