Following a 2 year absence from Senior ladies league action, Kate Kennedy’s late strike proved the difference as Colemanstown ladies staged a huge comeback to win 3-2 over Athenry in their league opener in Athenry yesterday evening. The Colemanstown centre back moved up to the edge of the box for a corner in the 89th minute before showing a moment of individual brilliance to send the ball home with a sublime volley.
Colemanstown started the game brightly with attackers Catherine Burke, who in fairness must be in her 25th year on and off playing competitive soccer and Mary Walsh working tirelessly and linking well together. This first big chance fell to Mary Walsh in the 15th minute where she was played through by Catherine Burke only to scuff her shot and the keeper dealt with the danger. A few moments later Mary turned provider for Catherine playing her through on the right wing only to see her shot go narrowly wide.
Our central midfield trio of Orlaith Hannon, Niamh Flannery and Teresa Loughnane were running the show in the middle third. All three players took the definition of a box to box midfielder to another level such was their endless shift. With 5 minutes left in the first half Colemanstown saw another good chance created through the midfield from Teresa Loughnane and Orlaith Hannon playing Mary Walsh through on goal but was dealt with well by the Athenry defence. From there Athenry played a long ball from the back through to their attacker wearing, No. 15. She timed her run perfectly behind our defensive line of Laura Parker, Ciara Lally, Kate Kennedy, Niamh Raftery and Aoibhinn Screene who were so solid and resilient throughout the game to go through one on one with our keeper Orla McCaffrey and finished well into the bottom corner giving Orla absolutely no chance.
Our ladies went in at half time disappointed to be 1-0 down after such a performance but focused on the positives and knew the goals would come. A couple of tactical changes took place at half time – switching to a 4-4-2 formation and the introduction of Deirdre O’ Grady in midfield, another stalwart with mileage on the clock. With the changes in place and the encouraging half time talk from manager Alicia Flannery, our ladies were raring for the second half. However, they were struck as sucker blow almost immediately from kick off as Athenry’s No. 15 again set off from the left wing through on goal where Orla McCaffrey was unlucky not to stop the shot.
2-0 down and up against it. Our ladies would be forgiven to let the heads hang at this point but such is the determination and character of the team the response was ecstatic. In true Colemanstown style our ladies ground in. Upping the gears again even as bodies tired Colemanstown gathered momentum. Catherine Burke and Mary Walsh were an ever threat to the Athenry defence. As Colemanstown were asserting their dominance, from a corner they created a fine effort involving Niamh Flannery & Mary Walsh as Orlaith Hannon finished well – a goal even Richie would have been proud of. As the game progressed the onus remained on Colemanstown to drag themselves back into the contest. And so they did, this time through Mary Walsh as Orlaith Hannon worked her socks off helping Aoibhinn Screene on the right. Aoibhinn took the ball well and played Mary Walsh down the right sideline. Walsh pushed the button for turbo mode in a mirror image of her brother Squelch as she left the Athenry defenders for dust before rasping her shot into the top corner leaving the keeper with no chance.
As Colemanstown continued their dominance it looked like both teams would share the spoils as the winner just couldn’t seem to be mustered up until the last kick of the game when some good work by Catherine Burke and Mary Walsh once more won a corner which was whipped in by Mary & that perfect right footed volley from Kate Kennedy raised a rapturous applause for Alicia Flannery’s team, her assistant Gilly & the absent Philip. (Gilly is taking the credit for the assist as he gave the orders for Kate to head up for the corner).
Overall Colemanstown deserved the win creating numerous chances throughout the game and that ‘never say die’ attitude instilled in them.
Well done ladies. Onwards & upwards with 3 points in the bag!
Squad: Orla McCaffrey, Laura Parker, Ciara Lally, Kate Kennedy, Niamh Raftery, Aoibhinn Screene, Niamh Flannery, Teresa Loughnane, Orlaith Hannon, Mary Walsh, Catherine Burke, Deirdre O Grady, Aoife Lally, Lisa Kenny, Sarah Grady.