Monday 23 September 2019

'F'abulous Lusk are Towers of strength

LGFA: Junior ‘F’ football championship final - Rd Towers L 3-11, Na Gaeil Oga 2-5

Daire Walsh

Sophie O'Hara registered a magnificent personal haul of 2-6 at Blunden Drive last Wednesday evening to propel Round Towers Lusk towards an impressive victory over Na Gaeil Oga in the Junior 'F' Ladies Football Championship decider.

Despite a difficult start to the contest, the north county outfit eventually settled into their stride. Supplementing O'Hara's opening-period brace, Jessica Grimes grabbed a goal on the resumption to ensure Towers remained in the driving seat.

Central attacker Niamh Thornton led the Na Gaeil Oga resistance - Anna Ni Uiginn also found the net in the closing moments - but they could never quite rein in the challenge of their Thomas Ashe Park counterparts.

Both teams had progressed to this showpiece encounter at O'Toole's GAA with unbeaten records in this year's competition, although having topped their respective groups, they were pushed all the way in last week's high-scoring semi-finals.

Towers were 6-7 to 4-11 victors at the expense of Oliver Plunkett's/ER, while Na Gaeil Oga had a single point to spare (4-9 to 3-11) at the end of their intriguing battle with Clontarf 'C'.

There was little to separate the sides on paper, but it was Na Gaeil Oga who had the better of the early exchanges.

After Thornton traded points with O'Hara, the dynamic centre-forward converted a free off her trusty right foot. The direct running style of Amanda Treanor was a notable feature of Oga's play and her ninth-minute point preceded Thornton's third of the tie.

Towers served notice of their attacking threat when inside forward Allanah Harford fired marginally past the target in the 11th minute. However, they finally raised a green flag just shy of the first quarter mark.

Tara Doyle was upended by Julie Ni Bhreathnach inside the square and O'Hara fired the resulting spot kick beyond the reach of Sinead Ni Dhurcain. This helped to galvanise John Kiely's charges, and with O'Hara's influence continuing to grow they edged into the ascendancy.

O'Hara's excellent approach work released Doyle for her maiden point of the night and Grimes also found the range for an increasingly confident Towers.

Na Gaeil Oga were not out of the reckoning just yet, though, and they responded to these setbacks with a second goal on the stroke of 30 minutes. Another outstanding Treanor run provided the platform for Thornton to finish from close range.

Though they were aiming to push on for the remainder of the half, it was Towers instead who discovered an extra gear.

At the end of another memorable surge through the heart of the opposition defence, O'Hara unleashed an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net. She also added a pointed free to her ever-expanding individual tally, and with Jen Magee and Doyle clipping scores either side of it Towers brought a commanding 2-6 to 1-4 cushion into the break.

They extended their advantage straight after the restart as O'Hara kicked another superb point from play. This, however, was the only score during the third quarter, which proved to be rather scrappy and tentative for the most part.

This certainly suited Towers given the six-point advantage they had at their disposal, although they breathed a sigh of relief when Georgia Shanley smothered Aoife O'Sullivan's goal-bound strike in the 39th minute.

Inevitably, it was O'Hara who ended the lengthy scoring drought - her latest free moving Towers a step closer to putting their seal on the title. Indeed, the outcome was effectively determined with 12 minutes of normal time remaining.

Grimes gathered possession close to the goal and clinically extended the Towers lead into double digits with a neat angled finish. Back-to-back points for O'Hara and substitute Ciana Downes offered them additional leeway, before Na Gaeil Oga finally hit back through Treanor's second point of the action.

To their credit, Na Gaeil Oga persevered as the proceedings moved into six minutes of stoppage time. O'Hara had split the posts on the hour mark for her concluding score of the night, but the hard-working Ni Uiginn ensured her side ended on a positive note with a three-pointer at the death.

This did little, though, to temper the celebrations of a jubilant Round Towers Lusk.

ROUND TOWERs LUSK: Georgia Shanley; Orla McMahon, Jenny Hanratty, Ciara Curran; Ciara Lawless, Davina Neary, Amy Clarke; Meghan Kiely, Evanna Niall; Hannah Dempsey, Sophie O'Hara 2-6 (1-0pen, 0-3f), Jen Magee 0-1; Allanah Harford, Jessica Grimes 1-1, Tara Doyle 0-2. Subs: Grace Codd for Harford (19min), Ciana Downes 0-1 for Doyle (47), Bronagh Neary for Lawless (48).

Fingal Independent