By Mike Fitzpatrick
Na Fianna 1-5, Cavan 2-15
It could have been a case of "been there, done that" for the two sides contesting the Sean Faherty Championship Final Sunday at Gaelic Park. With at least one on these two women’s football sides contesting each final since 1992, and the two teams on display here meeting for the fourth time in the final match. But the hunger for glory was still there. Unfortunately, as games go, this was a rather one-sided occasion for much of the game. Cavan opened the scoring with a trio of points from Gillian Bennett, and followed by a fine goal from Catherine Russell, it looked as if Cavan were about to go on to notch a record victory.
Na Fianna’s defense were under stress from the first blow of Brian McKenna’s whistle. Club captain Karen Shalvey proved a handful for the Na Fianna backline, and more than once, tactics changed so that more than one player was assigned to mark her throughout the game, with the baton changing hands a couple of times. The end result being that Shalvey only managed to hit one point, but her endless running and involvement in scores for Bennett, Russell and Catherine McAteer contributed hugely to Cavan’s victory.
The first half was something of a scorefest for Cavan, leading by 10 points at one stage of the game. The brave attempts of Mary Kearney, Caroline Conway and Fiona Fallon were, sadly, not enough to contain their opposing forward line. The case was simply that whenever Cavan ventured forward, they looked to score, whereas much of Na Fianna’s forays into the opposition’s half resulted in wide efforts, or interceptions from the Cavan backs.
The second half proved to be a more uplifting one for Na Fianna, bringing on Monica O’Shea, and Rose Dunican, who quickly added to their first-half tally. A goal from Helena Campion, Na Fianna’s midfielder, threatened to bring the tie back for her side, but the ongoing attacking from the likes of Rosie O’Reilly, Bennett, and a goal from McAteer really killed off Na Fianna’s hopes of providing something of an upset for the crowd at the Park. Cavan introduced a number of substitutes of their own, bringing on the experienced duo of Breda Carroll and Ger Mahon to increase their sides tally, and the end result, a 13- point victory over their archrivals, could not really be argued with.
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Na Fianna: Cathy Galvin, Mary Kearney, Caroline Conway, Fiona Fallon, Monica Slevin, Grace Kelly, Paula Corbett, Helena Campion (1-0), Alison Lineen (0-1), Mary McEvoy, Chiara Ferry (0-1), Marie Curran, Maree Maloney, Ann Ryan, Mags Ryan. Subs: Monica O’Shea (0-1), Rose Dunican (0-2).
Cavan: Sharon Levins, Olive Lynch, Olive Wilson, Anne Holland, Shauvaun Neville, Louise Fox, Pauline Coleman, Justine Clifford, Deirdre Feeney, Catherine Russell (1-1), Gillian Bennett (0-6), Maureen O’Driscoll, Rosie O’Reilly, Catherine McAteer (1-3), Karen Shalvey (0-1). Subs: Breda Carroll (0-1), Ger Mahon (0-1), Deirdre Maher.