A five-star performance from Amber Barrett saw Loreto, Milford take home the spoils in a classic Ulster U-16C final in Ballyshannon on Friday.
Loreto, Milford 10-3
Loreto, Cavan 4-16
Report: Peter Campbell
Photos: Thomas Gallagher
The scoreline says it all. This was a cracking contest which saw Loreto, Milford take home the cup, but spare a thought for the Cavan girls, who would have won any other game with a total of 4-16.
The difference was that Milford had Amber Barrett and she was on fire, finishing with a personal tally of 6-3. Amber had only returned from Irish U-17 soccer duty the night before, but showed no ill effects with a brilliant display.
When Loreto, Cavan led 0-5 to 0-1 after seven minutes, it looked bleak for the Milford girls, but once Barrett found Aisling McDermott with a quick free on 11 minutes for McDermott to find the net, the game changed
By the 28th minute Barrett and substitute Megan Reid had added goals to leave the Milford girls 3-2 to 0-6 ahead, but Cavan hit back with four points to leave just a point in it at the break, Milford 3-2, Cavan 0-10. Cavan should have had a goal seven minutes from the break when full-forward Hannah Duggan was clear but pulled her shot wide with just the ‘keeper to beat.
Two goals from Niamh Carr and Amber Barrett seemed to put Milford in control early in the second half, but the Cavan girls hit back and led 2-14 to 5-2 with just nine minutes left and the Milford girls were staring defeat in the face.
A sixth goal from Amber Barrett gave Milford hope but the Cavan girls replied with 1-1 to lead 3-15 to 6-2 with six minutes left.
But the Milford side sealed victory with four goals in the next seven minutes, Barrett starting the goal avalanche from the penalty spot and then hitting two unstoppable shots while Shannon McGroddy added another.
The spirit of Cavan was broken but they didn’t give in and hit two goals in the 34th and 36th minutes while Barrett pointed in between.
It was a classic encounter with Amber Barrett outstanding, but there were other top class displays from Lauren McElwaine and Niamh Carr while Shannon McGroddy, Aisling McDermott and Roisin Carr also played their part.
Barrett’s display was spellbinding. Her point near the end came as she drove forward at speed and picked up the ball just as the boys do it, by putting her toe under it.
“I was taught properly how to pick the ball up,” said Amber. Her father, Sean Paul had earlier told me that she would be scolded if they didn’t do it the right way.
“I got back late last night but I wasn’t tired. This is just such a great occasion for us. The excitement spurred us on. This game was my main priority.
“We needed the goals. They were very good. There’s not many girls teams that can take points like the did. They had a good No. 11 and we needed goals to kill the game.
“My dad always told me when I got the ball, go straight and it was the only option,” said Amber.
Loreto Milford: Caroline Gallagher; Katie McAteer, Heather Dougherty, Aisling McHugh; Aisling McDevitt, Lauren McElwaine, Roisin Carr; Aisling McDermott (1-0), Rebecca Barrett; Hollie McDaid, Shannon McGroddy (1-0), Orla McAteer; Elaine Doherty, Amber Barrett (6-3,1-0pen, 1f), Niamh Carr (1-0). Sub., Megan Reid (0-1) for O McAteer (inj. 15)
Loreto, Cavan: Louise Lawler; Roisin Galligan, Maggie May Smith, Ciara Reilly; Caoimhe McDermott, Frieda Finnan Dolan, Laura McKiernan; Aoibheann Kiernan (0-1), Una Galligan (0-1); Rachael Brady (0-1), Karen Delaney (1-10,4f), Niamh O’Shea (2-0); Aideen Coyle (0-1), Hannah Duggan, Rachael Talbot (1-2).
Referee: Terence McShea (Aodh Ruadh)