The Ballyfin panel after their Laois championship win last month
Ballyfin's Ladies football team have enjoyed a brilliant year, as they claimed the Laois Junior title over The Heath three weeks ago after suffering four heartbreaking final defeats before finally getting their hands on the title.
They then went on to defeat St Anne's of Carlow in the opening round of the Leinster Championship, before Ballyfin put Tinahely of Wicklow to the sword in an extra-time bout to reach the Leinster semi-final.
However, going one step further and making a Leinster final would prove one step too far for the Ballyfin ladies. Colmcille's of Longford would prove too strong for them in Mountmellick on Saturday, as they had ten points to spare in the end over a Ballyfin side who fought until the very end.
Colmcille (Longford) 1-12
Ballyfin (Laois) 0-5
Colmcille’s enjoyed the advantage of the win in the first half, and the away side made hay during the opening quarter. Michelle Farrell and Nessa Farley, who were instrumental throughout for Colmcille’s, kicked the opening scores for their side.
Ballyfin managed to put together a few attacking moves early on, and one of them almost resulted in a goal. Their centre-forward, Chloe Scanlon, went on a lung-bursting run right through the heart of the Colmcille’s defence, but her shot ricocheted back off the crossbar and Ballyfin remained scoreless.
Down the other end, Megan Jobe slotted over a free for Colmcille’s before they grabbed the game’s only goal to put daylight between the two teams. The athletic Michelle Farrell left the Ballyfin defenders for dead before calmly slotting it low into the bottom right corner of the net.
Ballyfin did manage to get on the scoresheet in the opening quarter, as their wing-back Rachel Wheeler, who was probably their best player on the day, intercepted a pass from Colmcille’s and set up Edel Finn for a nice score.
Ballyfin trailed by five points during the first water break, and that deficit would be doubled before half-time as Colmcille were very efficient with their scoring.
Ballyfin did have another huge goal chance though, as a Chloe Scanlon free dropped short into the square, and Edel Finn must have thought she had scored with a fist towards goal. However, Grainne Reilly was there on the line for Colmcille’s, and just about cleared the danger.
If Ballyfin had taken those two goal chances, perhaps this contest would have turned out differently. As it was though, Colmcille were comfortable for the rest of the half, with Ballyfin’s only score coming from a Chloe Scanlon free. The Laois champions trailed 0-2 to 1-9 at the interval in Mountmellick.
Ballyfin would have the wind at their backs for the second half, but Colmcille’s pressed their kick-out and had plenty of possession. Ballyfin outscored Colmcille’s in the third quarter, with Scanlon kicking over two frees, but they would need a miraculous final quarter to keep their Leinster dreams alive.
Colmcille showed their poise and quality in the fourth quarter though, as Ballyfin were held to just a single point (a Scanlon free) and the Longford ladies advanced to the Leinster final.
Scorers: Michelle Farrell 1-2, Megan Jobe (0-2 frees) and Nessa Farley 0-4 each, Grainne Reilly and Shannon Bransfield 0-1 each
Team: Ruth Jones; Kate O'Reilly, Tara Esler, Catriona Farrelly; Mya Murtagh, Grainne Reilly, Karen Reilly; Michelle Farrell, Nessa Farley; Maebh Grant, Erica Coen, Emma McKeon; Sarah Macken, Megan Jobe, Shannon Bransfield. Subs: Emma-Jane Hawkins for McKeon (HT), Caroline Doyle for Grant (48 mins), Maria Furley for Bransfield (50 mins), Elaine Farrelly for Hawkins (52 mins), Patricia Hourican for Macken (55 mins)
Scorers: Chloe Scanlon 0-4 frees, Edel Finn 0-1
Team: Ella Dunphy; Rena Duff, Aine O'Rourke, Cathy Hogan; Orlaith Meade, Niamh O'Rourke, Rachel Wheeler; Liadan C Fennell, Sinead O'Rourke; Michelle Lynch, Chloe Scanlon, Maeve Carroll; Christine Wren, Edel Finn, Eva Cullinan. Subs: Orla Horgan for Meade (39 mins), Emma Kealy for Hogan (47 mins), Sophie Connolly for Cullinan (50 mins), Helena Dempsey for Finn (52 mins), Sally Horgan for Wheeler (54 mins)
REFEREE: Jason Buckley (Dublin)
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