Ballymartin GAC, club news and events – 26th February
The draw saw them in the group stages with St Galls, Killeavy, Round Towers and Strabane. The opening fixture saw the young ladies pit their wits against the Antrim Senior Football Champions St Galls. After a first half where the girls were finding their feet in the rules of the competition they found themselves behind 2-01 vs. 1-02. The goal registered to Laura Sloan. By the end of the 12 minutes they were beaten on a score-line of 3-02 vs. 1-03. Whilst disappointed to lose the first fixture – the girls took great heart from their performance against one of the tournament favourites. Points being scored by Lauren Cunningham (2) and Jessica Collins.
The next game saw them play Killeavy. This turned into a very physical encounter with the Ballymartin goalkeeper Caroline O’Neill shipping a very heavy knock which upended her. Not to be put off by this though, Caroline took a short free from Lauren Cunningham to split the posts; the best way to answer cynicism. A goal from Lauren and another point from Caroline saw them lead at the break 1-02 vs.0-0. Again Killeavy pushed hard in the second half and got a reward with a penalty which they dispatched with ease. Another Lauren goal at the other side kept them at a distance and she then added a point as did Laura. Killeavy finished strongly and scored a further goal on the counter attack but it was too little too late. First win and we looked comfortable throughout.
Next up was Round Towers and the girls were really on song now. A brace of points from Lauren and a further point form Caroline kept the girls comfortable. Sinead Brannigan then made a burst through the middle and unleashed a shot to the roof of the net – a fantastic effort. Enter the new kid on the block – Ruth Collins – and she hit her first point in senior football. Second half started in a blast – Ruth grabbed the ball and smashed it to the net with ease. Round towers were really struggling with Ballymartin’s fitness at this stage and from the next play – the ball fell to Ruth again and she made no mistake hitting the net for the second time. A further point from Lauren saw the final score Ballymartin 3-05 vs. Round Towers 0-00.
Last game of the group stage and we needed to win against a Strabane team that could still qualify. We started brightly with Ruth hitting the first point of the game. Andrea Annett had been promising a score all day and she took it with aplomb. Andrea grabbed the ball in midfield and 4 steps later she sent it roaring into the roof of the net. There were strong suspicions that indeed Ruth got the last touch and the substitutes seemed to agree!!!! Laura Sloan was playing the game of her life and her deep run was finally rewarded with a point before Lauren scored her trademark score to leave the final outcome Ballymartin 1-05 vs. Round Towers 2-01.
We qualified in second place in the group and into the quarter finals of the cup our journey continued. The only real bad luck to befall us was now to happen when we were drawn against Donaghmoyne from Monaghan. This team are current Ulster Senior Club Champions and indeed have won Crossmaglen, Castlewellan, Killeavy and Dromintee sevens competitions in the last twelve months. But we were not phased by them. They really showed their class in the first half and ran at us in waves. At times our girls looked on in awe of their opponents. Half time saw us 10 points down. Some strong words were exchanged at half time and the girls took to the pitch with renewed vigour. No longer was there fear in their performance – only confidence. They took the game to their illustrious opponents and fought fire with fire. Laura Sloan hit a fine point and Lauren scored another. Indeed Donaghmoyne were now sitting up and taking notice of our girls as they fought for every ball as if their lives depended on it. With time running out Ellen Marks entered the fray and with her first touch took possession, rounded the keeper and smashed the ball to the net. A fantastic score for Ellen and indeed her first in a senior jersey. Her sister Amy leapt so high in celebration she ended up over the wire and onto the supporter’s sidewalk. Full time saw Donaghmoyne win the contest – but they knew they were in a fixture.
This brought to an end the girls venture into the unknown. They played with real pride and heart and perhaps with a more favourable draw could have ended up getting further in the competition. Well done to all concerned.
Senior Ladies Panel; Caroline O’Neill, Rebecca Cunningham, Sinead Brannigan, Laura Sloan, Jessica Collins, Lauren Cunningham, Carol Rafferty, Ellen Marks, Andrea Annett, Ciara Cunningham, Jacqueline O’Neill, Ruth Collins and Amy Marks.
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