Shels ladies capture the Dee Cup in London
SHELMALIER LADIES' footballers travelled to London to compete in the invitational tournament for the Monica Dee Memorial Cup in association with the Limerick Exiles Association. Killmacud Crokes, Dunedin Connollys of Edinburgh and last year's All-Ireland Intermediate champions, Parnells of London, were the other participants.
Parnells and Kilmacud Crokes opened proceedings with the London champions prevailing. The Shels girls, who had two guest players, Caroline Benson and Rebecca Mills from the Tara club in London, played the Scottish team who contained a number of inter-county players from Ireland.
Deirdre McMahon opened the scoring with a well-worked goal in the opening minute. Clara Donnelly, Kate Kelly, Siobhán Cloake and Donnelly again added points before Mills with a major and a Benson point closed off the first-half scoring.
The Shels full-back line of Lisa Quill, Nikki Scallan and Ceara O'Brien coped exceptionally well with the twin threat of Caolfhinn Deeney of Wicklow and Louth's Rosanna Heeney to lead at half-time by eight points.
Dunedin got a tonic start to the second-half with a goal from Suzanne Whooley inside the opening three minutes, but Bridget Curran replied with a goal from a penalty and a point from play to open up a ten-point lead. The game was ended as a contest with two quick goals from Róisín Cloake and Shelly Doyle.
Curran and Róisín Cloake added a brace of points apiece and Benson grabbed a point with two in reply for Dunedin to leave the Shels winners on a 5-11 to 1-5 scoreline. This game also marked the return of Mag Doherty.
The scene was set for an exciting final and the attendance weren't disappointed. Parnells, aided by the breeze, opened the scoring with a Gráinne O'Riordan point. Bridget Curran and Leona Tector quickly replied with points to give the Shels the lead.
Parnells piled on the pressure and Caroline Curran had to be alert in goal on a number of occasions. Timely interceptions by Scallan, Lisa Quill and O'Brien foiled the Parnell girls as they pressed for an opening goal to reflect their territorial advantage. Tyrone's Sinéad McCooey tied up the scores after eleven minutes.
The Shels began to re-assert themselves, aided by the attacking half-back line of Maeve Quill, Shelly Doyle and Eleanor Neville and the hard-working Bridget Curran and pacy Clara Donnelly at midfield who covered acres of ground.
The Cloake sisters, Róisín and Siobhán, were winning possession on the wings aided by the fielding and distribution of Deirdre Fox, all of which ensured a better supply of ball to the ever-dangerous full-forward line of Kate Kelly, Leona Tector and Deirdre McMahon.
Tector and McMahon added points before both of them were involved with Kelly for the latter to score a fine goal after 21 minutes. McCooey and Renee Murphy exchanged points with Kelly and Caroline Benson to leave the half-time score Shelmalier 1-6, Parnells 0-4.
McCooey opened the scoring in the second-half with a pointed free after 32 minutes and Kate Kelly and Renee Murphy exchanged points. Shels struck for an excellently-crafted goal after 39 minutes in a move that started in defence and once again involved the inside trio, with Kelly giving Marie King no chance in the Parnells goal to open up a seven-point lead.
Shels used the talented Tara players, Caroline Benson and Rebecca Mills, who played a major role in the weekend success, to good effect. However, the trend of the game changed dramatically within a two-minute spell. The Shelmalier girls looked like they had put the outcome beyond doubt when McMahon fed Kelly who placed the ball across the goal to the inrushing Tector who returned it to Kelly, and she slammed the ball home.
However, the umpires drew the referee's attention to the fact that Kelly was inside the small square and the goal was disallowed. Parnells went straight up the field and were awarded a penalty.
The London-born midfielder, Hanah Noonan, gave Caroline Curran no chance to leave just four points separating the teams.
Parnells made a determined effort to claw back the deficit with some fine support play, but the Shelmalier girls held firm and added two points from Caroline Benson and an insurance point from McMahon to clinch victory on a 1-10 to 1-6 scoreline.
This was a thrilling game and a fitting finale to a tournament that had an international dimension to it. It was an emotional day for Monica's husband, Con, but he was also filled with pride that the tournament should provide such high quality fare as he presented the cup in memory of his late wife to the Shelmalier captain, Kate Kelly.
Shelmalier: Caroline Curran; Lisa Quill, Nikki Scallan, Ceara O'Brien; Maeve Quill, Shelly Doyle, Eleanor Neville; Bridget Curran, Clara Donnelly; Róisín Cloake, Deirdre Fox, Siobhán Cloake; Kate Kelly, Leona Tector, Deirdre McMahon; Mag Doherty, Caroline Benson, Rebcca Mills.
Management and background team: Barry Hearne, Mag O'Brien, Wayne Duggan, Aidan O'Leary, Pat Quill, Mary O'Leary, Breda Curran, Liz Quill.
New Ross Standard