Illies Celtic’s Ladies retained the North West Women’s Super League with this hard earned but thoroughly deserved victory over fellow title contenders Bonagee Utd at Dry Arch Park.
Bonagee United 0 Illies Celtic 2
Two excellent second-half goals by Paula McGrory and Kirsty Downey proved the difference between these two fine teams in a high quality game.
The opening half was very keenly contested, with time on the ball at a premium , as both teams closed down their opponents very quickly.
Illies’s Deirdre Grant was a threat on the right side with her strong runs and dangerous crosses but Bonagee’s defence was solid and apart from having to make a couple of timely tackles in and around their penalty area they denied the visitors any clear-cut chances.
Likewise the Illies defence were proving a solid unit and the home side found it very difficult to really test keeper Fiona Doherty.
The best chance of the half came in the 41st minute when Bonagee’s Alice Diver pounced on some slackness in the visitors defence and with keeper Doherty well off the goal-line Diver’s goal bound lob was headed clear by Claire Doherty from her six yard line.
It remained scoreless at the break.
Five minutes into the second-half Illies took the lead. After breaking up an Bonagee attack the visitors broke out quickly and Danielle Doherty played a super pass through for Paula McGrory.
The striker raced into the Bonagee box and showed great skill as she pulled the ball back from close to the bye-line, beat two defenders and drilled the ball past keeper Clare Friel from a narrow angle for a vital opening goal.
Five minutes later McGrory was racing through again but this time she was unable to control her shot as two defenders closed in on her.
Illies were now having the better of things with McGrory an excellent and dangerous outlet for them up front with Danielle Doherty and Dede Grant a strong combination in midfield. Bonagee however were far from finished in this game and were contesting every tackle in their efforts to get back in the match.
However it was the visitors who got the game’s vital score and what a goal it was in the 72nd minute. Impressive centre-back Noreen Doherty cut out a Bonagee attack and played a good ball forward, sub Emma Breslin got onto it and after an exchange of passes the ball broke to Kirsty Downey who brilliantly cracked it past keeper Friel into the top corner of the net from 25 yards for a super goal and one had to think a championship winning effort and indeed worthy of it.
Downey went close with another long range effort that clipped a post but it mattered not as Illies Celtic’s title was retained in impressive fashion .
Bonagee United: Clare Friel Maria Carr (Deborah Kerrigan 70), Leona Russell, Grainne Gallagher , Chantelle Grant, Niamh McCarthy Siobhan Sweeney , Alice Diver, Anna Doherty, Natalie McFadden, Claire Orr.
Illies Celtic: Fiona Doherty, Claire Doherty, Aoife Bell, Teresa Maire Coyle Aisling Gillespie (Emma Breslin 54), Noreen Doherty, Deirdre Grant (Shania McGonigle 85), Kirsty Downey, Danielle Doherty, Paula McGrory, Alison McGonagle.
Referee: Liam McLaughlin.