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New York LGAA Sub Tracey turbocharges Leitrim women

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Mike Fitzpatrick

Leitrim 0-9, Cavan 0-8

A mere 24 hours after the world’s best women soccer players came head-to-head in their World Cup finale, their counterparts from the world of Gaelic football faced off in the Anne Kearney Cup Final at Gaelic Park.

Cavan were firm favorites, having clinched this trophy on a number of occasions in recent years, but a turbocharged performance from the Leitrim side propelled them to glory. All this despite being behind for a large portion of the game.

The tie opened rather slowly, with neither side registering a score in the first 15 minutes, and one of the season’s best crowds at Gaelic Park began to get a little edgy.

Enter Rosie O’Reilly.

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Charging forward on another mission toward Ann Marie McCrumlish in the Leitrim goal, O’Reilly fired her side ahead with a well-taken point from a rather difficult angle to the delight of team manager Philip Sheridan and the hordes of Cavan supporters in the stands. O’Reilly’s point settled the Cavan nerves a little, and they began to play together a little better as a unit rather than as 15 individual footballers.

Another point followed for Cavan from the boot of Deirdre Feeney, who added a third within minutes.

The Leitrim women looked shaken.

A point from Mairead Casey put them back in the hunt, but another from Cavan’s O’Reilly placed the pressure firmly upon the shoulders of the Leitrim side, who knew that they had to gel a little more if they were to stem the threat of Catherine McAteer, O’Reilly and Karen Shalvey in the Cavan attack.

Shalvey came close with a couple of efforts before finally making one register for Cavan to go into the break with a comfortable, some may even say predictable, lead.

If the first half belonged to the 15 players from Cavan, then the second could nearly be given solely to Leitrim substitute Claire Tracey.

Itching to get on to the field of play from the first minute, Tracey came on to batter her way past the Cavan backline to fire in three consecutive points for her side to give her team the slenderest of leads.

More efforts from "Captain Fantastic" Eibhlish Dinneen and her Leitrim sidekick Sadie Bolger followed, though efforts from Cavan’s Louise Bennett and McAteer brought Cavan right back into the hunt.

The final few minutes were heart stopping for the Leitrim supporters, and heart-breaking for the Cavan fans.

The inspired substitution which introduced Claire Tracey to this tie was to prove to be the turning point of the game, linking well with Sadie Bolger and company upfront, the tough Cavan backline was eventually demolished.

In the last couple of minutes, Leitrim refused to let Cavan near the ball, and a famous, thoroughly deserved one-point victory ensued for Leitrim.

Leitrim: Ann Marie McCrumlish, Kathleen Hickey, Una Burke, Paula Brophy, Debbie Murphy, Collette McElligott, Connie Reddington, Ann Marie McMunn, Sadie Bolger (0-3), Jacinta Boyle, Tracey Rice, Pat Meade, Eibhlish Dineen (0-2), Kathleen Walsh, Mairead Casey (0-1). Subs.: Claire Tracey (0-3), Tina Kilcommins, Ann Walsh, Joan Donohue, Carmel Ahern.

Cavan: Sharon Levins, Olive Lynch, Anne Holland, Pauline Coleman, Louise Fox, Caroline Sullivan, Shauvan Neville, Justine Clifford, Deirdre Maher, Catherine Russell, Deirdre Feeney (0-2), Gillian Bennet (0-1), Karen Shalvey (0-1), Catherine McAteer, Rosie O’Reilly (0-3). Subs.: Breda Carroll, Dervil Carey, Maureen O’Driscoll.

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