Fionnbarrs make second intermediate final in a row

Naomh Fionnbarra 2-12 Kilkerley Emmets 1-10

Naomh Fionnbarra progressed to their second intermediate championship final in as many seasons after getting the better of Kilkerley Emmets in Sunday’s semi-final opener in Stabannon.

The Togher side laid the foundations for their win with a strong first half display against a strong breeze as they ended the half level at 1-4 to 0-7.

The Barrs started well and were ahead within 20 seconds courtesy of Aideen Dunne. They added further scores from Ciara McMahon (2) before getting a crucial register in the 10th minute as Laura Sharkey rose above a number of Kilkerley defenders to deflect Dunne’s high delivery into the net, 1-3 to 0-1.

And while Emmets came back with three fine points from Jade McKeown, Rachel McNally and Cara Brady, they were relieved to see Marianne Hullen’s blistering shot come back off the crossbar.

Kilkerley, now playing much better after a nervous start, had the better of the play and points from Ciara Lennon (2) and McNally, with Hullen replying, left the sides level at the break.

As in the opening half, it was the winners who started better and surged into a five-point lead within two minutes of restart as clever play by McMahon set-up Leanne Sharkey who was pulled back with McMahon making no mistake from the resultant penalty.

Laura Sharkey (2), McMahon (2) and Marie Doyle all added points in between a wonderful score from Kilkerley’s Ella McEnteggart, who, after a superb run, saw her goalbound effort touched over by impressive net minder Annmarie Breen.

They were given further cause for hope when Lennon found the net after good approach play by Jade McKeown, leaving it 2-9 to 1-8 on 45 minutes.

A further Lennon score left just a goal in it but it was the more experienced Barrs who sealed their place in Saturday’s final with late scores from Leanne Sharkey, Aideen Dunne and Laura Sharkey.

Barrs midfielder Amy Devlin felt the team’s good start was important: “As a team we were extremely happy with the win over a strong and youthful Kilkerley side. It was an all-round, solid team performance from start to finish. We were focused on doing the simple things right and getting off to a good start and once that was achieved the rest fell into place. We played against a strong breeze in the first half and due to smart play and trojan work we didn’t let it hamper us. The speed and talent of Kilkerley made it difficult at times, however we remained calm and trusted the process in order to complete the job. The work ethic shown by the team was phenomenal and needed in order to come out with a victory.”

Naomh Fionnbarra: Annmarie Breen; Leah Cassidy, Niamh Devlin, Katie McArdle; Sophie Turley, Marie Claire Rogers, Roisin Osborne; Amy Grant, Heather Rogers; Aideen Dunne (0-2), Marie Doyle (0-1), Leanne Sharkey (0-2); Laura Sharkey (1-3), Ciara McMahon (1-4), Marianne Hullen (0-1)

Kilkerley Emmets: Eimear McEnteggart; Eimear Geoghan, Blaithnaid Callan, Sinead Kneel; Enya Kampas, Annmarie Kane, Blaithain McFadden; Jade McKeown (0-1), Rachel McNally (0-2); Ciara Sharkey, Ella McEnteggart (0-1), Caragh Brady (0-2); Ciara Lennon (1-4), Claire Clifford, Leah Hoey

It will be a Clan na Gael v Naomh Fionbarra Intermediate Championship final after Clans had a comfortable 5-11 to 2-07 win over Glyde Rangers Sunday’s other semi-final.

Mattock Rangers took the Junior A title beating the Dowdallshill/Cuchullainn Gaels combination by 3-21 to 5-06.

Report by Dermot Woods