By Mike Fitzpatrick
The women from Mayo almost provided the shock of the day, leading the scoring throughout the first half of this Ladies GAA senior knockout final Sunday at Gaelic Park in the Bronx. Indeed, going into the break they were 4 points to 3 ahead, thanks to the McKenna sisters, with Joanne scoring 3 points and Kathy 1.
But Cavan, already holders of the Sean Faherty Cup, rallied down the stretch to complete their double, beating Mayo for the Anne Kearney Cup.
The game never really got going in the first half, and there were a lot of near misses. Poor distribution of the ball led to a number of midfield mix-ups and defensive errors, but the forward lines on both sides could not take advantage of these unexpected interventions.
The second half really blossomed into a much-improved exhibition of senior football. Joanne McKenna forced a fine save from Cavan’s Sharon Levins and, within seconds, Rosie O’Reilly counterattacked, producing a fine solo run that resulted in her goal-bound shot saved spectacularly by Mayo goalkeeper Betty McGrail.
Cavan’s injured star, Karen Treanor, provided some fighting words of encouragement from the touchline and this seemed to have a positive effect on her teammates.
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Midway through the second half, Cavan began to get more involved in the game and started putting up a more acceptable challenge. After Joanne McKenna scored another two points, one from a penalty and another near-goal that crashed off the bar and over, things began to look a little worrying for Cavan. But Aisling Creighton scored 2 points for Cavan to bring them back into the game and corner forward Karen Shalvey and full forward Deirdre Geeney replied with 2 more.
Mayo’s captain, Sharon Gallagher, was unlucky not to score after a good piece of play from the Mayo midfield and the determination on the faces of the Mayo women almost told us that they were heading toward a win. That was, of course, until Rosie O’Reilly decided to step up a gear.
Following a good run from the right side of the pitch to the left, O’Reilly let fly with a shot that seemed to be going over for a point, but as it furthered in distance, it dropped dramatically, and flew over the head of Mayo goalkeeper Patti McGrail. The McKenna’s hit back for Mayo, in what seemed to be a comeback, until Ellen McGrail scored later on for Mayo. Cavan deservedly clinched the game in the last seconds, having endured a scare when Mayo sub Katie McDermott scored to bring Mayo back into the game. It could have gone either way with the lead changing hands so often. But it was the blue and white ribbons of Cavan that adorned the knockout Cup.
Cavan scorers: Deirdre Feeney 0-2, Aishling Creighton 0-4, Karen Shalvey 0-2, Rosie O’Reilly 1-2.
Mayo scorers: K. McKenna 0-1, J. McKenna 0-7, McDermott 0-1, E. McGrail 1-0.