FOOTBALL: Loreto Omagh 3-6 Presentation Thurles 2-8 (Lidl All-Ireland PPS Junior B Final)
By IVAN SMYTH (Gráinne Cassidy of Loreto Convent in action against Caitlin Shelly of Presentation Thurles. Photo by Ray Ryan/Sportsfile)
Kelly McCaffrey scored the winning free to ensure Loreto Grammar School were crowned Lidl All-Ireland PPS Junior B champions at Duggan Park in Ballinasloe.
Presentation Thurles produced a gutsy display as they came from 1-4 to 0-1 down in the first half to be level at half time. McCaffrey’s goal 20 seconds into the second half put Loreto in the ascendancy once more but Barry Ryan’s side kicked three on the bounce to level the game.
After Loreto moved in front once more, a Grace Flanagan free ensured the contest was all square, 2-5 to 1-8, at the final water break.
Aoife Shelly drove through for Presentation before sending a rocket of an effort into the top corner of the net. Loreto’s heart, grit and determination was tested but they showed that they possessed all three in abundance.
A kickout from goalkeeper, and player of the match, Erin Harvey was fielded by Áine Strain who subsequently offloaded to McCaffrey. Her slaloming run culminated a pass to Aoibheann Gallagher who fired to the roof of the net.
This levelled the game at 3-5 to 2-8 with both sides pouring forward in search of a winner. McCaffrey earned herself a free which she subsequently converted as Loreto held on to edge a thriller.
With the sides creating five goal chances between them inside the first eight minutes, unsurprisingly the first score of this game was a goal. Loreto’s Emer McCanny powered through before firing low to the bottom corner of the net.
Loreto were on top as McCaffrey, McCanny, Gráinne Cassidy and Shauna McCrory (free) helped the Tyrone outfit move 1-4 to 0-1 in front with Grace Flanagan scoring a free for Presentation.
Loreto earned a penalty when Gallagher fed the onrushing McCanny and she was hauled down. Gallagher stepped up but she was thwarted by Chloe Shorley in the Presentation goal.
Flanagan (free) and Olga Maher fired over for the Tipperary side. After some confusion in the Loreto defence Flanagan gathered possession and rifled to the net. Shelly’s point saw the game level at 1-4 apiece.
The game was equally as tight in the second half but McCaffrey’s late free ensured Loreto secured All Ireland glory.
Scorers – Loreto: K McCaffrey 1-3 (2f), E McCanny 1-1, A Gallagher 1-0, S McCrory 0-1 (1f), G Cassidy 0-1.
Presentation: G Flanagan 1-5 (2f) A Shelly 1-1, O Maher 0-1, C Shelly 0-1.
LORETO: E Harvey; N McElhatton, R Lynch, H McCarthy; E Gallagher, B McBride, E Teague; S McCrory, E McCrossan; L Wylie, E McCanny, Á Strain; K McCaffrey, G Cassidy, A Gallagher.
PRESENTATION: C Shorley; E Ralph, Caitilin Shelly, B Lloyd; E Carroll, L Coppinger, L Callanan; K Ralph, S Maher; E Dwan, Ciara Shelly, A Reddan; O Maher, G Flanagan, A Shelly.
Referee: Mel Kenny (Mayo).