St. Joseph’s foil Aughrim revival as Mitten’s magic brings shield home
St. Joseph’s 3 Aughrim Rangers 2
THE DICTIONARY definition of a game of two halves played out at Bunclody AFC on Sunday, as St. Joseph’s just about edged Aughrim Rangers in a thrilling final stanza to the women’s divisional shield final, with the Kilmuckridge side defeating their Wicklow rivals by the odd goal in five.
The only thing that separated the sides at the end of a rather low-key first-half was an own goal steered into her own net by Aughrim captain Shauna Rochford, and, by the time Amy Mitten produced a moment of magic 20 minutes from time, St. Joseph’s looked to be home and hosed.
But there was still plenty of drama to contend with, even when impactful substitute Charlie Kennedy pounced for their all-important third goal six minutes from time, and in the end they needed every hand at the pump to hold off fast-finishing Aughrim, who were contesting their first final at adult level.
A notable tactic from the eventual winners saw them punt long into space for Mitten with every chance they got, and she certainly stood out as their go-to threat in the first-half.
She had two half-chances inside the first five minutes, blazing wide and hitting the side-netting, while also having another shot smothered by goalkeeper Amber Cleary.
Mitten turned provider on 16 minutes but Emerson Doran slipped at an inopportune moment with a goal chance very much on, while Aughrim responded as Aoife Connolly released Abigail Whitney to fire wide.
But St. Joseph’s finally made the breakthrough on 34 minutes as player of the match award winner Mitten found a gap down the left and her chipped cross was headed in by the unfortunate Rochford while trying to avert the danger.
And a couple of minor chances fell their way prior to the break before Aughrim looked a team transformed on the restart.
Half-time substitutes Sarah Lifely and especially Laci Jane Shannon were very influential on their introductions, with Shannon denied by a smart save from Millie Cassidy on 51 minutes.
She ought to have scored when released again two minutes later, only to slip when shooting, and she almost got a telling connection to Tanya McDonald’s teaser at another stage too.
Lifely set up Whitney to fire just wide as Aughrim started to dominate the possession stakes.
However, they were rocked on 70 minutes when Doran laid the ball off to Mitten, and her pinpoint dipper from a good distance outside the box that nestled in the net was a goal good enough to grace any stage.
However, Aughrim hit back as Shannon got the goal her workrate deserved when she latched onto a long pass and demonstrated ice-cool finishing.
St. Joseph’s restored their two-goal cushion two minutes later when the aforementioned Kennedy timed her run to stay onside and poked home at the near post.
But they couldn’t rest on their laurels one bit because Lifely became the third consecutive substitute to billow the net when she thudded home with venom two minutes from time after creating the initial opening.
And St. Joseph’s were really clinging on as more Rangers pressure saw an optimistic penalty claim by Shannon fall on deaf ears, while Lifely’s drilled shot from distance was bravely kept out by Cassidy just before the welcome relief of the full-time whistle.
St. Joseph’s: Millie Cassidy; Katie Carr, Laura Warren, Caitlyn Redmond, Michaela Milling; Jessica Foran, Sophie Donnelly (capt.), Sophie Kirwan, Anna Hammel; Amy Mitten, Emerson Doran. Subs. - Charlie Kennedy for Hammel (HT), Edel Kehoe for Milling (67), also Lisa Nangle, Danielle Sheil, Eleanor Hammel, Mary Hammel.
Aughrim Rangers: Amber Cleary; Livia McDonagh, Shauna Rochford (capt.), Emma Doyle, Alice Kirwan; Aoife Connolly, Georgina Canavan, Tanya McDonald; Abigail Whitney, Alva Donoghue, Emma Keenan. Subs. - Sarah Lifely for Doyle (HT), Laci Jane Shannon for Donoghue (HT).
Referee: Ger Morris.