Mulroy College took home a second All-Ireland title in three years when their senior girls came out on top in a very exciting All-Ireland final against St. Mary’s Secondary School, Belmullet, in Sligo yesterday.
Mulroy College 2
St. Mary’s, Belmullet 1
McSharry Park was in good condition, if a little soft, but the Milford girls made light of playing against the wind in the second half, to hold in a cliff-hanging finish and a 2-1 win.
All three goals came within a matters of minutes of each, either side of half-time. Belmullet were marginally the better team in the opening half, but Mulroy went to the dressing room one goal up, thanks to a good finish from Shannen Sweeney virtually on the stroke of half-time.
Sweeney was in the right place after Michelle Doherty swung over a cross following a short corner to stun the Mayo girls.
Up to that, the Mulroy goalkeeper Orla McGonigle was much the busier with Belmullet threatening on a number of occasions. McGonigle, who proved to be one of the Mulroy heroes, was very quick to adjust her position on 26 minutes, to save from Tamara O’Connor.
Eimear Gibbons, who was on crutches after the semi-final, but made a miraculous recovery to play her part, had the only other Mulroy shot on target in the opening half.
The Donegal girls lost their captain Tanata Dorrian before half-time. She had been suffering from the ‘flu for a few days and just couldn’t give any more.
A minute into the second half Orla McGonigle made a great stop with her foot from O’Connor, but from the resultant corner, the ball dropped for Diane Doherty to level matters.
But the lead was shortlived as five minutes later Mulroy hit the decisive goal and it was a solo effort by Michelle Doherty, who carried the ball for 30 metres before pulling her shot across the Belmullet ‘keeper and into the corner of the net.
The game was much more open in the second half but thanks to a very stubborn midfield, led by Aoife McDevitt, Mulroy never looked like conceding again.
Anytime they threatened Orla McGonigle was strong with Shauna McDevitt also a rock at the back for Mulroy.
Because of the soft pitch, players from Belmullet in particular and a few from Mulroy suffered from cramp in the closing stages, which meant that some five minutes of added time was added.
In that period, there was further tension for the Donegal girls as Belmullet forced a corner (their most potent attacking threat) and a free kick, but the Mulroy girls just wouldn’t be beaten.
It was all-round top class display from a side that have just two leaving cert students.
Apart from the excellent 14-year-old goalkeeper, midfielder Roisin McElwaine, at 14, is a chip of the old block also, daughter of former Finn Harps star John.
Mulroy: College: Orla McGonigle, Shauna McDevitt, Tamara McGovern, Natasha McElwaine, Eimear Gibbons, Aoife McDevitt, Tanata Dorrian (Lucy Maria O’Flynn 36), Roisin McElwaine, Roisin Boyce (Michelle Sweeney 38), Shannen Sweeney (Mariosa Friel 73), Michelle Doherty.
Rest of Mulroy panel: Niamh McGettigan, Scarlett Douglas, Nadine Harkin.
Belmullet: Claire Calvey, Christine Healy, Ashling Barrett, Katy Duffy, Grainne Reilly, Michaela Doran, Diane Doherty, Tamara O’Connor, Aoife Ruddy, Rebecca O’Sullivan, Claire Ginty.
Referee: Terry Butler
Player of match
The award goes to Aoife McDevitt for a terrific workrate, but she was she was closely followed by Orla McGonigle and Shauna McDevitt in that order. The diminutive Christine Healy and Tamara O’Connor were excellent for the losers.
The second goal from Michelle Doherty, which calmed Mulroy after they had been hit by the equaliser. But overall, this was a great second half display.
Referee Terry Butler had a trouble free match, aided by two very sporting teams as well as well behaved benches.
Mulroy College manager Ashling McAteer, who was assisted by Paul McGovern, was really excited at the finish.
“This is our first All-Ireland for three years and we needed to get back at this level. We have lost at the semi-final stage in the last two years,” said Ashling.
“We have a very young team with just two leaving cert students and quite a few just in second year and under 14. We will have a strong panel for the next few years.
“It was a great, great win and we were very strong at the back with an outstanding goalkeeper.
“It is a fantastic boost for the college. We have been training hard for the last few months and to win is just great,” she said.