HAT-TRICKS by Caroline Gallagher and Nakita Burke popped the champagne corks for the Lagan Harps ladies in an exhilarating Glencar Cup final at The Diamond Park in Ballyare.
Lagan Harps 8 Glenree United 4
A poacher’s brace in the first half by midfielder Gallagher was followed by a thrilling third early in the second half as Lagan took the spoils with Burke also completing a hat-trick late in the evening.
By the close of play in an absorbing opening stanza, during which the lead changed three times, Lagan had the advantage by the odd goal in seven and it was dizzying at times the way the contest see-sawed.
Ultimately, the hat-trick heroines were the difference as Brid McGinty’s team clinched the first of what they hope will be a treble haul of honours over the next ten days.
Lagan are the front-runners for League success and on Saturday-week they face Greencastle in the Ulster Cup final.
They were aided here by members of the Lagan Under-18 side, against whom they are battling for League honours, but it was certainly a satisfying evening for them as the shadows fell across Ballayre.
Glenree got off to a dream start and took only 40 seconds to take the lead. Emer Boyce’s persistence paid off when she forced a dispossession and put Denise Doherty through.
One-on-one with Trazita Sharkey, the Lagan goalkeeper, Doherty made no mistake with a composed, clinical finish to the top shelf.
Lagan were momentarily stunned, but it didn’t take long for the Orchard Park ladies to shake the heads clear and they drew level in the tenth minute when Nakita Burke slammed home a penalty.
Burke’s powerful effort was too much for the static Siobhan Coyle.
Lagan might have turned the tide immediately, but Republic of Ireland underage international Caoimhe Walsh glanced a header just wide after connecting with Burke’s cross.
There were anxious moments for the Lagan supporters when top scorer Burke went to ground after a collision with Coyle, who was out bravely to thwart the advances of the number 9.
Although Lagan didn’t have it completely their own way, with Ann Marie Gibbons firing into the side netting on one Glenree attack, they moved into the driving seat in the 19th minute.
Burke’s probing ball to the back post was met by Caroline Gallagher –highly influential throughout in the Lagan engine room – who made no mistake in applying the finishing touch.
Despite Lagan having a period of dominance, Glenree refused to wilt and they restored parity in the 32nd minute when Grainne Gallagher’s free-kick from 35 yards sailed over Sharkey and into the roof of the net.
Amazingly, Glenree were back in front just 90 seconds later when Emer Boyce planted a header from Gallagher’s corner perfectly through a needle’s eye and beyond the unsighted Sharkey.
Lagan’s response was instant, though, as Glenree’s lead, again, was a short-lived one with Gallagher ghosting in around the back to turn home from Burke’s free kick.
When the participants could finally take a moment at the end of a breathless first half, Lagan were ahead thanks to Erin Coll as the St Johnston woman converted after connecting to Walsh’s deep cross.
Energised by the rousing finish to the first half, Lagan put the game to rest with two goals in the opening five minutes of part two.
After the unfortunate Evelyn McGinley put through her own goal from Burke’s low ball across the goal’s face, Gallagher completed her hat-trick with a stunning finish from the edge of the box.
Gallagher took one look and didn’t need a second as she magnificently found the top corner with the sweetest of right-footed efforts.
It proved an end to the mayhem, but there was still time for Burke to net her treble.
Burke bagged her second in the 73rd minute when she took aim from 35 yards and left the net rippling through the force of her strike.
Twelve minutes from the end, she chipped in her third and Lagan’s eighth of a remarkable game while Maria Carr’s effort was scant consolation for Glenree, who battled right to the end.
Lagan Harps: Trazita Sharkey; Saorla McGarrigle, Chantel Kelly (Tara Duffy ‘80), Michelle Kelly, Aoife Page (Aine Deasley ‘57); Erin Coll (Amanda Gallagher ‘63), Kaneshia McKinney, Caroline Gallagher, Caoimhe Walsh (Orla Friel ‘75); Ciana Brogan (Danielle McDevitt ‘47), Nakita Burke.
Glenree United: Siobhan Coyle; Maria Carr, Grainne Gallagher, Niamh McDevitt, Evelyn McGinley; Siobhan Sweeney (Caoimhe McMenamin ’61), Ann Marie Gibbons, Emer Boyce, Hannah Shiels (Julie Trearty ’46 (Emma Wright ‘80)); Denise Doherty, Shannon McBride.
Referee: Con McLaughlin.Tags: