Ladies claim RDFL Pre-season title in dramatic fashion

Colemanstown Ladies won their first major women’s title for a while in dramatic fashion with a late equaliser to bring the game to extra time and an extra time winner to seal a 2-1 win in the RDFL Ladies Pre-season tournament played in RDFL Headquarters Lecarrow this afternoon. Colemanstown ladies started with intent. Claire Keane sent a beauty through to Sinead McManus but there was slightly too much pace on the delivery which ran out over the endline. Ballinasloe responded with a good chance on goal which was defended well by Aoife Donoghue for a corner on 4mins which yielded nothing. Within the first 5mins Colemanstown were well on top with Sinead McManus & Lucy Kenny combining well up front & Isaa Harun linked well with Rachel O’Brien. Colemanstown had a further chance when a pinpoint Laura Parker delivery found the run of Sammi Chang but the pace of the ball was too fast and she failed to get on the end of it. Most of the early play was in Ballinasloe’s half of the field as Colemanstown were well on top as Aoife Donoghue & Claire Keane were alert to any danger and Sarah Kearney was the engine in the middle of the park. On 13mins Laura Parker saw her free kick saved while 2 mins later Sammi Chang saw her header comfortably in the keeper’s arms. Ballinasloe then broke on the counter but Jessica Doherty got back well to make a vital clearance for a throw-in while Ashley Roberts was quick to the edge of her box to deal admirably with a dangerous free kick. Ballinasloe were clean through on goal in the next passage of play but the linesman’s flag was raised for offside.  On 27mins Colemanstown originated a lovely attacking move as Sammi Chang was through on goal but as the ball crept away from her, she doubled back to play Rachel O’Brien whose delivery into the box was well defended by Ballinasloe Town. Ballinasloe then had a half chance but again Ashley Roberts was well tuned in. Laura Parker sent in another sublime delivery but the ball just got away from Sinead McManus at the back post. Another Parker delivery over the top found Lucy Roberts whose effort just went wide. The best chance of the half arrived on 40mins when Claire Keane had a clear cut chance but Ballinasloe’s custodian made a quick double save. Ballinasloe also had their best chance of the half on 44mins with a long ball over the top which Ashley Roberts challenged well but as the ball bounced back into play, Issa Harun made a timely last ditch tackle to clear any imminent danger.  0-0 at the break but given Colemanstown’s dominance it was far less than their first-half performance deserved.

The 2nd half started at a mediocre pace. Colemanstown management duo Pat Delaney & Philip Dee sparked a good response with the introduction of Serena Hansberry. As Colemanstown got back into the game, Sinead McManus looked to be through on goal but the linesman called offside in a questionable decision. Ashley Roberts again read the game well and was quick off her line to collect the ball when Ballinasloe’s striker looked to be through on goal. 10mins after the restart Sammi Chang drew an exceptional save as the keeper tipped the ball over the crossbar as Colemnastown grew in confidence. Katie Williams who was introduced at half time linked up well with Sammi Change but a last ditch tackle was enough to keep the game scoreless with 17mins played. Ballinasloe had half a chance midway through the 2nd half from a free kick but the ball went harmlessly wide. Then on 25mins Ballinasloe took the lead against the run of play from a free kick which bobbled about in the box and caught the keeper offguard. Despite Colemanstown’s possession, the goal changed the momentum of the game as Colemanstown laboured a bit and took a while to get back to grips with the game. On 32 mins a smashing delivery from Laura Parker saw Lucy Kenny on the back post drive over the crossbar. Lucy Kenny then made a super run on the right wing, was taken down and a free from the edge of the box was swung in by Laura Parker but Ballinasloe’s No.5, their chief performer, an ex-Arsenal player got a head on it to avert Colemanstown’s aerial threat. In fact No. 5 was superb throughout and quelled much of Colemanstown’s attacks throughout the game. Colemanstown threw the kitchen sink & everything else from the kitchen into the last 5mins as they bid for the equaliser. Laura Parker saw her effort from just outside the box sail over. With 43mins on the clock Claire Keane had a long range effort saved by the keeper as Colemanstown pushed hard as the clock was ticking down fast. Right on the stroke of 45mins Lucy Kenny’s delivery found Serena Hansberry who was poised on the back post and she finished from close range. It was no less than Colemanstown deserved for their persistence, dominance, possession & fight. And so to extra time…….

It was ebb and flow from both sides during the opening 5mins of extra time. The first real effort was created when Sammi Chang found Serena Hansberry but her effort tailed wide . As Colemnastown stepped up a gear Lucy Kenny couldn’t generate the power to beat the keeper as she drew another good save this time from the keeper’s legs when the ball looked destined for the bottom corner. The breakthrough was made again on 9mins when the keeper failed to hold a free from Aoife Donoghue & Rachel O’Brien was well placed to head the loose ball to the net.  The goal came at the opportune time just before the extra time break & Colemanstown knew all they had to do was defend their 1 goal advantage. Serena Hansberry on the left wing was a threat right through extra time as Ballinasloe’s No. 5 moved up front in a bid to restore parity & bring the game to penalties. While Colemanstown were certainly good for their lead, they hadn’t quite the same measure of control in the last few minutes as Ballinasloe tried to salvage something out of the game. Ballinasloe pressed hard but the defence stood firm and deserve a healthy share of the praise particularly in the last few minutes. 2-1 it finished as Colemanstown had knocked the fight out of Ballinasloe and no one was left in any doubt as to what this Shield win meant to the players when Captain Ashley Roberts was presented with the Shield trophy. The ladies celebrated the win with a few well deserved bevs in Burkes after the game. Thanks to Johnny Lally for the match notes.

Squad: Ashley Roberts, Laura Parker, Aoife Donoghue, Claire Keane, Jessica Doherty, Sammi Chang, Issa Harun, Rachel O’Brien, Lucy Kenny, Sarah Kearney, Sinead McManus, Clare Hannon, Katie Williams, Eimile Gavin, Serena Hansberry.