Newry City ladies storm into semi-final
There was a good turnout at Newry Showgrounds in anticipation of this quarter final tie in the NI Women’s Irish Cup between Division 3 runaway leaders Newry and their opponents Cliftonville who currently sit at the top of the Championship, two leagues ahead of the Newry Ladies.
The opening minutes started off edgy with Newry trying to find their feet and it looked like perceived league superiority was going to be the deciding factor when on the tenth minute the Cliftonville Ladies grabbed the opening goal when Nicola Clements and Fiona Martin were unable to stop the Cliftonville number ten as she closed in on goal and blasted the ball past Katie Farrell to put Cliftonville one up.
However Newry soon steadied and after hard work from the defence and midfield goal chances started to come from Lisa McCann, Alex Hurst and Aoife Lennon. It was on the 25th minute when the equaliser came after a 20 yard pass from Julie Henderson in midfield to Alex Hurst on the right hand side gave her an excellent opportunity to show off her superb skill and plant the ball into the left hand side of the net past the Cliftonville keeper.
Newry continued to press and after Moya Feehan went narrowly wide with one effort she followed this effort up with a long mazy run which presented Eireann McLaughlin with a one on one chance and while her shot beat the Cliftonville ‘keeper alas for Newry it also beat the post to go wide. However the half finished with the Newry girls on top and now fully confident that they were the better team.
Indeed the second half started as the first ended with incessant Newry pressure; the first chance falling to the head of Feehan from a precise Alex Hurst cross. Marianne Marron then displaced a superb ball over the top to Hurst who made great progress down the wing and only a perfectly timed tackle from the Cliftonville defender denied a great scoring chance.
Henderson then forced the ‘keeper to make a point blank save to deny her getting her name on the score-sheet. Ten minutes into the second half Cliftonville finally got their first chance through a rare lapse in the Newry defence. However, Katie Farrell in the home side goals made a good save stretching to tip the ball over the bar.
Newry soon got back into their stride, the next chance came from Hurst to Feehan who easily dummied the Cliftonville defender and crossed the ball into the goal mouth to McLaughlin who’s shot was blocked. Superb play between the Newry captain Lennon, who was dominant in midfield, and the effervescent Hurst placed Feehan in a good shooting position but the Feehan’s shot couldn’t find the net and went over the bar.
The next notable chance came from Lennon as she made an excellent drive from 25 yards out narrowly shaving the post. Newry’s grip on the game was given an added boost on the half hour mark when a Cliftonville player was shown a red card by the referee for some irreverent remarks.
From then on things went from bad to worse for Cliftonville as only two minutes after going a player down Feehan put them a goal down when an incisive pass from McLaughlin set her up to make an excellent finish which was greeted with much joy by the home support.
The Newry team, expertly managed by James Feehan, knew that the game was still to be won and continued to press and challenge for every ball. The home teams’ domination again paid off with their third and final goal.
Having won a corner when a rasping drive from Henderson was deflected round the post by the sprawling away ‘keeper McLaughlin stepped up to the ball. Much to the delight this time of the Newry players McLaughlin’s cross come shot was misjudged by the Cliftonville ‘keeper and curled into the top left hand corner of the net for a spectacular finish and secured a place in the Semi-final for the Newry City Ladies.
Speaking to the Newry Times after the final whistle, delighted manager James Feehan stated, “It was a brilliant team performance from start to finish. We know it started edgy and after Cliftonville went one up we changed the shape of the team and got back on top. I couldn’t pick a stand out player, everyone gave 100% and played for the shirt, I’ve never met a better bunch of girls.
Feehan added, “I would also like to pay a special thanks to Moya Feehan for flying home from her holiday to play as she made all the difference and deserved to get her goal. I am immensely proud of the girls for all of their hard work and also making history as this is the clubs first time in the Northern Ireland Women’s Football Associations Irish Cup Semi-final! I would also like to thank the large turnout of supporters at the game and I urge more to come down and show support to the girls at the Semi-Final!”
Newry City Ladies: Katie Farrell, Fiona Martin, Clara Mulvenna, Nicola Clements, Marianne Marron, Julie Henderson, Alex Hurst (1), Aoife Lennon, Lisa McCann, Eireann McLaughlin (1), Moya Feehan (1). Subs: Connie Burns, Amy Kelly (Lisa McCann), Orlaith McKeown.
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