A strong team performance saw NUIG overcome an in-form UL side.
On the same date and at the same location that the Galway girls beat Carlow in the Premier Division final last year, NUIG Ladies Soccer found themselves walking away from the UL sports grounds with an All-Ireland trophy once again in their possession. The game started late, with the WSCAI Shield Challenge Final between Mary I and The Garda College going into extra-time. This didn’t deter the away side as final words of wisdom were shared amongst the squad.
NUI Galway, playing in maroon jerseys and new white socks, went into the game as underdogs. However, from the first whistle, they were on the fore front. Alison McGonagle and Mollie Farrell found themselves having glorious chances but not quite being clinical enough. UL, against the run of play, went 1-0 up on 7 minutes when Fiona Moloney broke the NUIG defence line and was able to round Louise Creaven in goal. This was the wake-up call the Tribeswomen needed and, as promised to coach Padraic de Burca, this would be the only goal the they would concede. UL had a few chances but Creaven stood tall in her goals and batted away anything that came towards her.
Now an uphill battle, Galway found themselves with plenty of possession of the ball and they were creating many chances. All four defenders of Laura Carroll, Sarah Peters, Shauna Fox and Sam Taillon found freedom and space in front of them to exploit and it was only a matter of time before the team would get the equaliser. Farrell swapped with Lisa Casserly up front and the pair combined for the equaliser in the 20th minute, when Casserly played Farrell through on goal. Farrell used her pace to round the UL goalkeeper and add to her goal tally for the year. Some more chances fell to Farrell, and Michelle Doherty was unlucky to see her rebound shot hit the post. It was Aoife Walsh who eventually got NUIG in front with her first goal for the university in the 29th minute. It was a deserved debut goal for the winger who had been tormenting the fullbacks from the beginning, and throughout the season.
NUIG started the second half knowing they had just one job to do – win. Playing against a slight breeze, NUIG kept creating chances and Ciara Lynagh, playing in front of the back four, kept UL’s key players quiet. Two dangerous free kicks on the edge of NUIG’s box were well defended. First one hit the wall, and the second one was saved off the line by Player of the Match Fox. Fox’s afternoon got even better when she struck a 40 yard free kick into the roof of the net in the 79th minute.
At 3-1 up, experience prevailed on the pitch with the Galway girls holding off a wave of UL pressure. UL were unlucky not to cut the deficit in half when they hit the post from a well worked passage of play. NUIG cleared the bench, with Marley Duncan, Chelsi Curran, Emma Horgan, Ciara Collins and Shauna Gallagher all coming on with fresh legs and threatened the tired UL girls. It was ultimately the Galway captain who killed the game off when Casserly finally got her goal in extra-time. A solid performance all round.
Another happy March 15th for the girls and their management, as Lisa Casserly lifted the WSCAI League Cup. Final score: NUI Galway 4-1 UL.
Team: Louise Creaven, Sam Taillon, Laura Carroll, Shauna Fox, Sarah Peters, Ciara Lynagh, Aoife Walsh, Michelle Doherty, Alison McGonagle, Mollie Farrell, Lisa Casserly, Chelsi Curran, Emma Horgan, Marley Duncan, Ciara Collins, Shauna Gallagher, Deirdre Joyce.
Managers: John “Beano” Hynes, Padraic “celebrated with a bottle of milk” de Burca.