independent

Tuesday 23 January 2018

St Maur's pass 'Tarf test with flying colours

Ladies IFC Final: St Maur's 3-12 Clontarf 1-11

Rory Kerr at Lawless Park

If St Maur's manager Mark Kelly had any worries of his girls showing signs of game fatigue they were soon dispelled after Friday night's Intermediate final, with chants of 'we're on the road again' ringing happily from the winners' camp.

Clearly the next game can't come soon enough for Maur's who since last season's triumph over Skerries Harps in the Junior Championship Final, have embarked on an incredible journey.

Admittedly there was that defeat to Clontarf in the group stages, but the Rush girls were to turn the tables emphatically on their opponents to achieve back-to-back championships at the Swords venue.

Clontarf were heavily fancied to win this given that they had a team packed with Dublin minors and a full back line who were no strangers to success, having claimed the Junior Championship in 2014.

But the Dublin 3 outfit were knocked off their seat of their pants by two first-half goals from Laura and Niamh Carthy before the former landed Maur's third in the 40th minute to knock the stuffing out of Clontarf's challenge.

For a while it seemed as if Clontarf's blistering runs might suck the oxygen out of their oppenents, with Caoimhe O'Connor turning in a big shift in the corner.

But St Maur's never wilted, with Eadaoinn McGuinness putting in a tremendous shift in the middle third. Her midfield partner and Dublin panellist Olivia Leonard was another shining light and she showed tremendous strength on the ball, while also pitching in with four crucial points.

Leonard had kicked off the scoring for Maur's inside the first minute, and while Laura Reilly, who proved a very adept place-kicker off the ground, levelled soon after, Maur's then struck for the first goal of the game when, off Leonard's break, Laura Carthy found the back of the net with a determined finish on three minutes.

Clontarf soon began to impose their will on the game, with Sarah Fagan a very strong runner for them in the number 5 jersey.

And having cut the arrears to the bare minimum off a Reilly free, Clontarf then moved two points clear on 18 minutes when Margaret Mohan came through at pace before converting past Francesca Towers.

Maur's spell of 15 minutes without a score finally came to an end following back-to-back frees from Niamh Carthy before Reilly edged Clontarf back in front again.

However, Maur's would then strike for their second goal with four minutes to go in the half when Niamh Carthy's shot dipped under the keeper's crossbar, with a free from Naomi Clare seeing Maur's go in at half-time with a three-point lead - 2-5 to 1-5.

Clontarf were then to introduce Dublin's Sarah McCaffrey, but her impact on the game was nullified by a Maur's defence who were excellent on the night.

And while Clontarf kept in touch through a number of frees from Reilly, they were finding it hard to contain Leonard whose influence was growing by the minute.

Goal three came after Leonard had shrugged off a number of challenges before giving an inside pass to Laura Carthy who drove low into the keeper's right-hand corner to give Maur's a six-point cushion.

There was no question of Maur's sitting back on their lead, with Megan Foley making some surging runs into the heart of the Clontarf defence. And with captain Shauna McGuinness proving tidy in defence, St Maur's closed the game out with scores from Leonard, Clare and Laura Carthy.

St Maur's: Francesca Towers; Sally Ann O'Brien (Megan Benson), Nicola Thorne, Sarah Louise Brogan; Gemma Thorne, Shauna McGuinness, Niamh Conway; Eadaoin McGuinness, Olivia Leonard 0-4; Ann Casey (Eimear Conway), Naomi Clare 0-(2f), Laura Carthy 2-0 (0-2f); Jessica Kelly, Niamh Carthy 1-4 (0-4f), Megan Foley. Subs: Leona Harford for N Carthy, Sinead Moran for Conway.

Fingal Independent

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