Doyle goal puts dominant St Colm's on road to glory
St Colm's Draperstown.......1-7
St Cuan's Ballinasloe............1-5
After an absence of 11 years, St Colm's Draperstown were again crowned All-Ireland champions after their barnstorming comeback against St Cuan's Ballinasloe at Breffni Park on Saturday afternoon.
It bridges the gap since Fiona Devlin led the school to the 2009 senior title, on a day when her husband led Tyrone U20s – including their son Eunan - to Ulster glory.
St Colm's had to do it the hard way. They didn't register a score for the opening 21 minutes after trailing 1-3 to 0-0 against a stiff breeze.
It was a win build on a strong defensive performance, with Shannon Scullion and Cliodhna Hickson particularly impressive. Cara Donnelly gave a player of the game performance at midfield, while captain Aoife Doyle – who picked up the official player of the final award – was always a handful.
Ballinasloe had a very strong breeze in the first half and started off extremely strong and St Colm's needed Rhiannah O’Neill to produce a goal line clearance in the first minute.
After good work from Aoife Quinn she scored a very good point from play to open the scoring in the third minute.
Ballinasloe’s dominance became increasingly telling as a long range free from Jacqueline Glynn hit the post and landed into Ali Glynn’s path who then hand-passed the sliotar into the back of the net in the sixth minute.
Molly Mulryan, who was very impressive at midfield for Ballinasloe in the first half, had a long range shot cleared by goalkeeper O’Neill, before Quinn drilled over the resultant '45' and St Colm's were 1-2 to 0-0 behind after 10 minutes. Claire Glynn added what would be Ballinasloe's final score of the half a minute later.
It took 13 minutes for St Colm's to carve out their first opportunity to score. Aoife Doyle was fouled within scoring range however, the wind made the frees very difficult for the Ulster champions and the free was missed by Sinéad McGuigan.
St Colm’s were found to be guilty of perhaps going for goal too often. McGuigan ran straight through the defence, only to see her shot saved by goalkeeper Amy Kenny. Aoife Doyle got herself onto the rebound and her shot was saved by a defender at the expense of a '45' that was also missed.
In the 19th minute, Cliodhna Hickson made an excellent interception. She then had the confidence and intelligence to pick out Cara Donnelly who was very good at running with the ball in the whole match at the heart of the St Cuan's defence. Donnelly found Mary Jo McEldowney and she drew a foul from close range. Sinead McGuigan put the previous experiences of frees behind her and slotted this one over the bar.
St Colm’s were now dominant and St Cuan’s found it very difficult to get past Shannon Scullion and Rachel McCullagh in particular. In the 21st minute Doyle’s quick sideline ball to Grace Kelly, who had still a lot of work to do to beat her marker. She found Sinead McGuigan who had the time and space to put the sliotar over the bar.
Shannon Scullion continued to shut up shop in the St Colm's defence but, in attack, they struggled with the breeze and free-taking was proving difficult.
With six minutes to half-time, they had a goal chance. It began with Erin Kelly around midfield but Hickson's free dropped short, Doyle was blocked by full back Jacqueline Glynn.
Later in the half, a McGuigan free came off the post and Shannon Burns, smothered out by defenders, saw her effort go wide.
St Colm’s eventually got the score their play threatened. In stoppage time, they were awarded a free and, on the instructions of Fiona Devlin, Cliodhna Hickson came up from defence to slot over the bar.
Although St Colm’s were much the superior team in the first half, the scoreline did not reflect this and they trailed 1-3 to 0-3.
St Colm’s started off where they left off in the first half as they were struggling once again to find their scoring range.
A Cliodhna Hickson free from far 65 was saved by goalkeeper Amy Kenny and cleared away out of danger.
In the seventh minute, Erin Kelly found Aoife Doyle who seen her effort at goal fly across the goal and end up for a 45 for St Colm’s. With the aid of the breeze, Cliodhna Hickson scored the 45 with ease.
It took 10 minutes for St Cuan’s to get on their first attack of the half. Claire Glynn went on a very impressive run that she began in her own half. She won a free and Aoife Quinn tapped over the bar.
Hickson hit the post before St Colm’s had two very good chances for goals midway through the half. Grace Kelly saw her hand-pass effort cleared off the line by a defender and Aoife Doyle’s effort was saved by Amy Glynn.
With 10 minutes remaining, St Colm's eased the pressure with a McGuigan point, after good work by Mary Jo McEldowney. Cara Donnelly gained possession straight from the puck-out and backed herself and split the posts to only leave one point between the teams.
Then came the 52nd minute game-changer. Hickson’s free landed into to Aoife Doyle who had to battle extremely hard to gain possession and beat numerous defenders. From a tight angle, she hand-passed the ball into the back of the net and her side's dominance was finally evident on the scoreboard.
Quinn replied with a free for Ballinasloe and in the closing stages the St Colm’s defence was tested. Leanne McCullagh, who was allowed to play as a sweeper in the second half, cut out any danger before Aoife Doyle put the icing on the cake with a stoppage time point.
ST COLM'S: Rhiannah O’Neill, Leanne McCullagh, Shannon Scullion, Niamh Hamill, Rachel McCullagh, Cliodhna Hickson (0-2f), Ciara Scullion, Erin Kelly, Cara Donnelly (0-1), Anna McDaid, Sinéad McGuigan (0-3, 2f), Mary Jo McEldowney, Shannon Burns, Aoife Doyle (1-1), Grace Kelly.
SUBS: Hannah Scullion for S Burns (45), Orfhlaith Henry, Rose Kelly, Amy Lindsay, Katie Jo McNamee, Jodie Ann Devlin, Maddie McIvor.
ST CUAN'S: Amy Kenny, Sarah Coen, Jacqueline Glynn, Emma Finnerty, Emma Gormally, Jane Higgins, Sinéad McManus, Molly Mulryan, Emma Queeney, Aoife Quinn (0-4, 3f), Rachel Mellody, Gráinne O’Neill, Ali Glynn (1-0), Claire Glynn (0-1), Aoife Gormally.
SUB: Róisín Hynes for G O'Neill.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Cara Donnelly - Donnelly was excellent throughout the whole match and adapted to the conditions. Her running at the heart of the St. Cuan’s defence was a factor in the first half. Throughout the match she was the main link from defence to attack. Her work rate allowed the forward line to sustain their positions.
SCORE OF THE GAME:
Donnelly solo effort – St Colm’s were starting to pen St Cuan’s in their own 45 and when Cara Donnelly gathered possession from the puck out after McGuigan’s point, she scored from distance. This was a factor that St Colm’s struggled with but when it really mattered they made it count.
Doyle goal - With the match being played on a 4G surface, the sliotar can possibly go anywhere. Hickson’s brave effort from the 65 fell just short but Aoife Doyle was first to react. She squeezed past numerous defenders and hand passed the ball into the net from nearly an impossible angle. With St Colm’s struggling for the scores their dominance deserves, Doyle's goal was the difference.
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