Two late strikes guide Ramsgrange to glory
LATE GOALS from the inspirational Eimear Mullan and goal-hungry Fiona Rowe propelled Ramsgrange Community School to Leinster title glory in an unseasonally sunny W.I.T. Carriganore yesterday (Monday).
Despite dominating possession, the Wexford side couldn't put a resilient Ballyhale team away, that was until the pacey Mullan latched on to a Sinéad Rowe through ball and side-footed her school ahead for the third time.
Unlike the previous two occasions where the Kilkenny side conceded, there was to be no way back this time as Fiona Rowe shimmied and stroked home the last kick of the game to send the seaside supporters into delirium.
It was a bright opening by Ramsgrange too with Shannon Doyle causing Ballyhale problems. That fast start was soon emphasised by a superb opening goal. Mullan, a constant weapon down the left, sped away and crossed to the penalty spot. Róisín Murphy anticipated the centre and met it with a looping strike that flew past Kavanagh in the Kilkenny goal.
The Ramsgrange dominance continued without clearcut chances being created, but things took a turn for the worst with Scoil Aireagail's first proper foray forward.
Danger looked to be averted when Amy Butler cleared her lines, however Julianne Malone saw her chance to take a pot-shot and ripped a strike from fully 35 yards into the roof of Ciara Roche's net.
Spurred on by their goal, Ballyhale's Eimear Fitzpatrick quickly forced Roche into a save, but Ramsgrange did settle and could have gone in at the break ahead had Mullan's shot from Róisín Murphy's cross gone under, rather than over, the crossbar.
With a defence anchored by Katie Dunphy proving hard to break down, it wasn't until the 49th minute that Ramsgrange threatened again. Siobhán Rowe, the third of the Rowe sisters on the south county side, floated a free-kick to the back post where sibling Fiona was on hand to snap a shot off the left post.
Sinéad Rowe was next to test the frame of the goal when cutting in from the right, but the breakthrough did eventually come in the 62nd minute when Fiona Rowe curled a 20-yard freekick into the top left corner of the Ballyhale net.
Down for the second time, the Kilkenny girls bounced back within a minute when an attempted clearance played Rachel Sutton-Duggan onside as she raced away to level from close range, but Ramsgrange eventually found the winning goals which allowed captain Elaine Whelan to collect the Umbro Senior 'B' trophy from F.A.I. member Gary Power. Ramsgrange can now look forward to an All-Ireland semi-final against Munster champions St. Peter's Community School, Passage West.
Ramsgrange C.S.: Ciara Roche; Nóirín McMahon, Amy Butler, Elaine Whelan, Siobhán Rowe; Eimear Mullan, Sinéad Rowe, Róisín Murphy, Tara Walsh; Fiona Rowe, Shannon Doyle. Subs. - Dannielle Odham for Walsh, Carrie Odham for Doyle, Lydia Hickey for Butler, inj., also Eilish Finucane, Chloe Butler, Siobhán Ryan, Stephanie Foley.