DONEGAL Ladies are Ulster senior ladies champions for the first time.
DONEGAL 2-12 MONAGHAN 1-10
Geraldine McLaughlin scored 2-7 for the newly-crowned queens of Ulster, who turned in a magnificent all-round performance to capture the O’Harte Cup at the expense of experienced Monaghan.
McLaughlin netted twice in the second half for Davy McLaughlin’s team.
Having led 0-7 to 0-4 at half-time, Donegal were out of the traps quick in part two.
McLaughlin and Yvonne McMonagle hit early points for Donegal before the Termon ace bagged her first goal on 36 minutes.
Amber Barrett’s vision and precision made it. Barrett won a ball down in the right corner, but managed to deliver an inviting ball across the goal-face and McLaughlin riffled a first-time shot beyond Linda Martin.
After Cathriona McConnell momentarily gave Monaghan hope with a goal from a penalty, McLaughlin made the win safe.
Her own lofted attempt at a point dropped short, but the ever-alert attacker followed it in and beat a stunned Martin to punch home.
It was a day of deliverance at last for Donegal and some of their heroines who had waited an age for this: the returned Aoife McDonnell who was Player of the Match in the final having spent the last two campaigns in Australia; and Karen Guthrie, injured of late, but who was given the loudest cheer of the day after coming on for a late cameo.
Caoimhe Mohan opened the scoring for Monaghan, Donegal led by the 15th minute. It was a tame opening in wintry conditions, but McMonagle and McLaughlin had them in front.
Cora Courtney and McConnell restored Monaghan’s lead, but Donegal were proving to be the much more efficient outfit.
Although they lost midfielder Shannon McGroddy to an injury in the 16th minute, the introduction of Termon colleague Roisin McCafferty was hardly much of a weakness and served to outline the strength at McLaughlin’s disposal.
McMonagle and McLaughlin posted to put Donegal ahead again and it was the Tir Chonaill girls who finished the half strongest.
Barrett showed magnificnet poise and precision before McLaughlin hit two in a minute to open up a four-point lead.
Donegal led 0-7 to 0-4 as they made their way in at the break, Monaghan breaking a barren spell when Fiona Lafferty cut through to fire over in the final minute of a half in which they spurned seven scoring chances.
With Geraldine McLaughlin on fire at one end, Nicole McLaughlin holding the extinguisher at the other and McDonnell performing all sorts of roles in between, it was Donegal who came out on top.
DONEGAL: Laura Gallagher; Treasa Doherty, Emer Gallagher, Nicole McLaughlin; Therese McCafferty, Kate Keaney, Ciara Hegarty; Shannon McGroddy, Katy Herron; Aoife McDonnell, Niamh Hegarty (0-1), Niamh McLaughlin; Geraldine McLaughlin (2-7, 4f), Amber Barrett (0-1), Yvonne McMonagle (0-3). Subs: Roisin McCafferty for McGroddy (16 mins), Karen Guthrie for T.McCafferty (55 mins).
MONAGHAN: Linda Martin; Joanne Geoghegan, Sharon Courtney, Grainne Mc Nally; Aoife McAnespie (0-1), Nicola Fahey, Eimear McAnespie; Eileen McElroy, Fiona Lafferty (0-1); Cora Courtney (0-2), Laura McEneaney, Caoimhe Mohan (0-1, 1f); Ciara McAnespie (0-3), Ellen McCarron, Cathriona McConnell (1-2, 1-0pen, 1f). Subs: Rachael McKenna for Geoghegan (37 mins), Tessa Fleming for McEneaney (43 mins), Muireann Atkinson for E.McAnespie (49 mins), Ciara McDermott for Mohan (53 mins).
REFEREE: Brendan Rice (Down).Tags: