NIAMH HEGARTY PRODUCED the game’s moment of magic to win the Strand Hotel Cup for Greencastle FC at Maginn Park tonight.
Greencastle FC 1 Illies Celtic 0
In a game of few chances, Hegarty illuminated the tense tie with the only goal of the game on 68 minute to clinch a Cup double for the Chapel Lane residents.
Greencastle, who had already won the Ulster Cup, were bidding for some revenge after losing 2-1 to Illies in the Inishowen Ladies League decider last week.
Thanks to Hegarty’s deadly strike, it was Paddy Hannon’s team who were celebrating at the end of the night.[adrotate group=”37″]
Beneath Maginn Park’s floodlights, Hegarty set off on a run 23 minutes into the second half and, after weaving her way into the Illies penalty area, she stepped around the committed Aoife McColgan to slide home what proved to be the match winner.
Greencastle’s Nicole Gordon volleyed over the top in the cagey opening moments and changes were at a premium in the first half.
After a breakaway from an Illies corner, Greencastle poured forward, but the move ended with Niamh McLaughlin’s shot from the left-hand side of the penalty box turned around the post by ‘keeper Fiona Doherty.[adrotate group=”38″]
It took a brave intervention by Greencastle’s number 1, Sarah Faulkner, to keep the stalemate intact on the half-hour, gathering at the feet of a combination of Lauren Cregan and Michelle McGonagle after Cregan had somehow got free in the box.
That came after Paula McGrory flashed a real warning shot wide of Faulkner’s target, riffling just wide from 12 yards after connecting to an Alison McGonagle ball in from the right flank.
Greencastle threatened early in the second half, with Eimear Lafferty seeing her effort palmed away by Doherty, while Nicole Gordon dipped a shot just a fraction too late having done well to carve out the chance.[adrotate group=”46″]
There had been real panic in the Illies rearguard when Niamh Hegarty popped a dangerous cross into the path of Niamh McLaughlin, but the pass had too much weight and the chance was gone.
With Greencastle turning the screw, Illies sent on Aoife McColgan to take the place of Doherty, but with a little more than 20 minutes to go Hegarty pounced for the opening goal.
That came just after Paula McGrory was denied by Faulkner while it took a goal-line intervention by Nicole Gordon to keep Greencastle ahead, as she headed clear after Deirdre Grant’s header beat Faulkner.[adrotate group=”70″]
Ultimately, it was always going to take something special to win this one in normal time – and Hegarty provided the game’s golden moment to end the season in style for her side.
Greencastle: Sarah Faulkner; Shannon McDonald, Kathy McLaughlin, Nicole Gordon, Danielle Barr; Lisa Burns (Eimear McLaughlin 63) Eimear Lafferty, Niamh Hegarty (Shona Kelly 80), Niamh McLaughlin; Sarah Jane McDonald; Marie Kelly.
Illies Celtic: Fiona Doherty (Aoife McColgan 57); Teresa Coyle (Aisling Gillespie 87), Kayleigh McGonagle, Noreen Doherty; Deirdre Grant (Claire Doherty 87), Alison McGonagle, Michelle McGonagle, Danielle Doherty, Louise Devlin; Lauren Cregan, Paula McGrory.
Referee: Liam Porter.Tags: