Sacred Heart girls sail through to the Ulster final

Posted by
editor@newrytimes.com
Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
Community, Sport

Sacred Heart Grammar School (Newry) 7-11   
St. Ronan’s College (Lurgan) 0-9
Referee: Eddie Cuthbert

The girls of Sacred Heart Grammar School, inspired by a strong team spirit, secured their place in the Ulster U20 final last Wednesday after a convincing display against their Lurgan counterparts.

It was a typically chilly December evening under the floodlights with the crowd gathered relying on the quality of football for warmth.

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St. Ronan’s raced out of the traps and had the lion’s share of the early play. They were denied a third-minute goal after goalkeeper Cara Bradley dived brilliantly to her right, bravely tapping a well-struck effort from the St. Ronan’s attacker around the post.

 

 

This proved to be a turning point in the early proceedings and sparked a strong response from Sacred Heart who put immense pressure on the St. Ronan’s defence to score 2-4 without reply.

St. Ronan’s worked a well-taken point before Sacred Heart once again had the Lurgan side on the back foot and landed three points on the bounce which were scored by Stephanie Hall, Hannah Duffy and Niamh Scullion following exemplary attacking team play.

 

 

It must be noted that the aforementioned were stand out performers with their strong direct running and outstanding finishing. St. Ronan’s finished the first-half strongly and were rewarded with two points for their efforts meaning Sacred Heart led 4-6 to 0-3 at the interval which was a deserved reflection of their illuminating performance.

Expectedly St. Ronan’s made serious efforts at the beginning of the second half to make amends for the half-time deficit, but Sacred Heart absorbed the pressure and proved too strong with their commendable expansive play which ultimately settled the game in favour of the girls in green.

The assured performance of Cara Bradley between the sticks characterised by her accurate kick-outs and calming presence served as a springboard for all that was good in Sacred Heart’s play.

 

 

Her efforts were consolidated by a full-back line of Mollie Smyth, Aimee O’Hanlon and Anna Mulligan who were tireless in pressurising the opposition and forcing them into rushed scoring efforts.

The half-back line of Eva Sloan, Tara Brown and Kayla Woods also defended tenaciously, but their strong running on the ball to start many of the Sacred Heart counter-attacks were a key contributing factor in the 7-11 scoreline. 

Midfielders Maeve Murdock and Niamh Scullion worked industriously as ever with grit as they defended and panache as they attacked.

 

 

This was complemented by a very powerful forward line of Caoimhe Shannon, Grace Cunningham, Orlaith McCusker, Stephanie Hall, Hannah Duffy and Maeve McCartan who each put in a strong performance.

The introduction of Olivia Hall, Caoimhe Quinn, Enya Quinn, Leah Morgan and Cliona Brooks from the bench helped to rejuvenate the efforts of the team as legs tired in the second half.

The Newry school will be under no illusion that sterner tests lie ahead but the challenge of the final is one that these talented ladies will relish.

 

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