Match Report & Photos: Div 1 League Final – Cooley storm to victory

Division One League Final

Cooley Kickhams 4-10 Geraldines 1-08

A repeat of this year’s Louth Championship final saw a different outcome as Cooley Kickhams came from behind to storm to victory in Kilkerley on Sunday afternoon last.

Many punters had the Haggardstown side as firm favourites for this final but Kickhams went toe-to-toe with them despite playing against the breeze in the first half with some stellar performances.

They started confidently and were ahead inside the opening minute when Niamh Rice pointed from a free. Lauren Boyle had a chance to double the lead shortly after before the Gers, who began nervously, worked their way into the game to lead 0-3 to 0-1 by the seventh minute.

Geraldines then hit four wides before Rice reduced the lead from a free to reduce the lead to the minimum midway through the half.

They received a further boost in the seventeenth minute when Megan Ferguson won possession some fourteen metres from goal and her low shot found the corner of the net.

Niamh Rice, from a free, extended the lead before Gers were level as a brilliant run by Fionnuala Cafferty set up Rebecca Mooney who flicked the ball  past Cooley netminder Coirin Rice to leave the sides level at 1-3 each after 22 minutes.

Shortly after Gers hopes received a blow when key defender Eilish Hand was sent to the sin-bin for persistent fouling. Despite being down to 14 players Ava Kieran and Rebecca Carr (2) added points to a solitary Lauren Boyle effort to leave Geraldines 1-6 to 1-4 ahead at the interval.

Paul Hanlon’s side got a major boost within seconds of the resumption as goal-poacher Eibhlin Rice fisted past Grainne Boyle to restore their lead.

Geraldines looked a bit rattled after that goal as Lauren Boyle kicked three points to a solitary reply from Rebecca Carr leaving Cooley 2-7 to 1-7 in front on forty minutes.

Just four minutes later Gers hopes of a double were dealt a crushing blow as Cooley went six ahead with a superb goal. Laura Traynor played an inch- perfect pass from the right  to Eibhlin Rice who shrugged off her marker and smashed it into the corner of the net to make it 3-7 to 1-8.

Niamh Rice’s striking was near impeccable and after three first half points she added two further points in that stretch of supremacy which meant Cooley merely had to stop any goal threat to ensure victory.

Any slim hopes Geraldines had evaporated when Laura Traynor put the final touches on an impressive team performance when she got her side’s fourth goal in added on time to ensure the league title would make its way to the peninsula club for the eleventh time in 26 years.

Laura Traynor was one of the many Cooley players to turn in an impressive display and afterwards explained that the defeat in the Senior Championship Final provided the incentive to claim league honours.

“We went into this game as underdogs after our poor performance in the Championship Final a few weeks ago when we just didn’t turn up.  However, we knew we had the potential to beat the Geraldines, and I think our determination was evident throughout the game so from our point of view this game was only going one way,” she explained.

Although it didn’t appear to be going to plan at half time, Laura explained that there was never a sense of panic in the team.

“We were two points down at half time but that really didn’t bother us because we knew we were in control of the game – it was our’s to lose and we had no intention of letting that happen and thankfully we go the scores to come out on top. We stepped it up a gear and just played simple football and we were positive within ourselves,” added Lauren who explained that experience was a key factor in the victory.

“Even though we are a very young team we do actually have a lot of experience playing in high-level competitions with the majority of girls having played with Louth and a number of us have played in All-Ireland finals at juvenile and junior level.  So on paper we may look young and inexperienced but on the pitch we are a squad to be reckoned with and are more than capable of rising to the occasion.”

Laura sealed a memorable day on a personal note when she claimed Cooley’s fourth goal and naturally, she was delighted to chip in with a score.

“I would be considered a defender but if there is someone needed elsewhere on the pitch I’m the one that is usually used. To me, it doesn’t matter where I am on the pitch or what position I’m in, I just adapt to where I’m put and do whatever it takes to win games. With the goal, I got a perfect ball in from Lauren and I was just going to lay it off to whoever was beside me but I saw an open space and went for the bottom corner and hoped for the best. I was delighted when I saw it go over the line and it just topped the game off,” she added.

Cooley Kickhams: Coirin Rice; Deborah Malone, Lisa McCarragher, Shauna Murphy; Laura Traynor (1-0), Claire Donnelly, Aoife McDaid; Laura Grills, Katelyn Quinn; Lauren Boyle (0-4, three frees), Ciara Quinn, Niamh Rice (0-6, five frees); Renee McGlynn, Eibhlin Rice (2-0), Megan Ferguson (1-0). Subs: Kelly Carolan, Laoise McElroy, Aoife Traynor.

Geraldines: Grainne Boyle; Nina Slowey, Eilis Hand, Amy O’Donoghue; Holly Lambe Sally, Lauren McFaul, Abbi O’Connor; Sandra Neary (0-1), Sarah Morgan; Ava Kieran (0-1), Rebecca Carr (0-3, two frees), Emma Gartlan (0-1); Fionnuala Cafferty (0-2), Ciara O’Connor, Rebecca Mooney (1-0). Sub: Louise Corcoran for Kieran

Referee: Kevin Carroll (Sean McDermotts).

Report by Dermot Woods | Photos by Veronica Traynor