Saturday 24 March 2018

Amy pops up with precious late goal to earn Fins replay

Rory Kerr

THERE was high drama at Parnell Park on Friday night, with a last-gasp point from Fiona Hudson sending this decider to a second game tomorrow, Wednesday (throw in 7.15 Parnell Park).

With Na Fianna committing numbers en masse behind the ball in the closing stages, it looked as if Fingallians' proud unbeaten run which stretches back to the start of the season was in danger.

But when it mattered their big players came up with the goods, with 2010 All Star Amy McGuinness popping up with a terrific goal that Kevin McManamon would have been proud of.

McGuinness had pulled the strings from centre forward in the first half, but with Fiona Maye doing a good marking job on her after the break she had her work cut out.

Admittedly the secondary school teacher did not have the best of nights in terms of her shooting, but her goal was a touch of class and if Fingallians eventually manage to bring the cup back home to Lawless Park for the first time in the club's history, then ultimately that will be all that matters.

This was Fingallians' first appearance in a final since 2010 when they lost out to Ballyboden St Endas, but they were to concede a goal with six minutes gone. It came off a terrific break from Na Fianna full forward Laura Walsh, who then gave a diagonal pass to Aoife Nolan.

And from a tight angle the corner forward delivered a terrific finish past Dublin minor Emer Ni Hefa.

Niamh Rickard was to open Fingallians' account soon after, but the Swords girls were dealt a blow when full forward Niamh Hurley was forced to retire injured.

Fingallians, however, showed their resilience, with Lynsey Davey swinging over a terrific point from the forty.

Na Fianna, after raising the white flag through Orlath Egan, were then to have both Alma O'Donnell and Fiona Maye sin-binned with 10 minutes to go in the half.

Fingallians, though, were unable to make their numerical advantage count and after Lynsey Davey and Egan had traded frees, Walsh then curled over a terrific point off the inside of her foot to leave it 1-3 to 0-3 at the break.

Davey made it a two-point game shortly after the break, but Na Fianna were then to hit another purple patch. First Egan, having taken a pass off Walsh, side-stepped her marker to drive over from the left, before Bronagh O'Donnell brought the gap out to four points.

And then on 39 minutes Fiona Tuite made a surging run through the middle of the Fingallians defence before driving low into the corner, 2-5 to 0-4. At this stage one had to fancy Na Fianna, particularly given the bearing Walsh was having on the game.

But after Amy McGuinness had registered her first score of the game Fingallians were then handed a lifeline when a speculative ball sent in from the wing by Fiona Hudson slipped fortuitously under the keeper's crossbar with 11 minutes to go.

A free from Egan was to leave Fingallians needing two scores to tie the game, but then came an amazing piece of skill from McGuinness. Struggling to make their points, a goal was what was needed and McGuinness, having somehow weaved her through a series of tackles, then bent the ball into the top corner with just moments to go.

With just seconds to go it looked as if Na Fianna might be on course to hold on, only for Hudson to pop up with the equalising score.

Fingallians: Emer ni Hefa; Deborah Doherty, Sinead O Mahony, Laura McGahan; Aoife O Reilly, Fiona Hudson 1-1, Ann Marie McDonagh; Claire Murtagh, Sinead Finnegan; Niamh Rickard 0-1, Amy McGuinness 1-1, Rachel Brogan; Becky Davey, Niamh Hurley, Lynsdey Davey 0-3 (0-2f). Subs: Victoria Browne for Hurley, Siobhan Melvin for Brogan.

Fingal Independent