St Ergnats Moneyglass Senior Championship winners 2021
4th October 2021
Congratulations to St Ergnats Moneyglass on lifting the Senior Championship Saturday 2nd October 2021.
St Ergnats GAC Moneyglass 7.11
CLG Naomh Pól 1.6
Match report by Anna Bradley
People talk about games of numbers and the Antrim senior ladies championship final was just that. One title. Two teams. Three red cards. Eight goals. Ten years in the making.
A bright day and hilltop view of Belfast city, the stage was well set for the senior final clash between Moneyglass and St Paul senior ladies. While the red and whites were chasing ten-in-a-row, the Sapphires were going for number one. Anticipation and anxiety rumbled through the pre-match crowd, but once the first goal came, adrenaline took precedence.
In the beginning, both teams were equal, St Paul’s won the throw-in but interceptions and turnovers from both sides meant the teams cancelled each other out. For the first ten minutes of play, both sets of defence were on top. The tackles were hard, the supporters were noisy and the ball rarely went dead. A good, competitive match.
Competition intensified when Moneyglass captain, Cathy Carey, opened the scoring with a point after two minutes. It was not until six minutes later that St Paul’s took their first score: a pointed free from number 10, Niamh Nic Ionnrachtaigh. In the tenth minute, Sapphire goalkeeper Anna McCann gave one of three long kickouts that would lead to a goal against St Paul’s. This first kick went over the halfway line and ended with Orlaith Prenter taking goal number one.
St Paul’s following kickout was won by Moneyglass midfielder, Laura McCann, which resulted in her centre-half forward, Maria O’Neill, getting her first point. The Sapphires stole following St Paul’s kickouts, which resulted in a Bronagh Devlin point and Cliona Griffin goal. Twelve minutes gone and Moneyglass led 2:3 to 0:1.
However, St Paul’s refused to lie down. In direct response to the Griffin goal, St Paul’s dangerous full forward, Kirsty McGuiness, amid a forest of players, still found the bottom corner of the Moneyglass net. Nonetheless, within the next sixty seconds, Moneyglass midfielder McCann won her kickout, passed it to the very impressive O’Neill, who gave it to the equally notable Prenter to rattle in her second goal.
O’Neill then followed up by sending the ball high over the bar from thirty yards. Yet, the centre half forward was not contented with this. An assist from Carey put O’Neill in a position to get another score. Seemingly taking the renowned coaching advice of ‘aim for the crossbar and you’ll get some sort of score’, O’Neill shot. Initially patted away by Ní hÉilí, the ball awkwardly deflected and went into the top corner of the net, leaving the score line 4:4 to 1:1 at the first water break.
Tackling and pressure from both teams continued to impress but St Paul’s struggled to get their kickouts into the Moneyglass half of the pitch. A Carey point was followed, despite the red and whites having twelve players in their own half, by Aine Devlin sending the ball into the St Paul’s net.
A wide from Sapphire’s O’Neill was later punished by a great point worked between the sisters, Caitlin and Kirsty McGuinness, the latter taking the score against the wind. However, on the back of that score, a notorious McCann kickout ensued, which ended with Bronagh Devlin laying it off to O’Neill for another goal.
Although St Paul’s Niamh Nic Ionnrachtaigh pointed another free, strong defending denied them additional scores for the rest of the half. One instance of the great defending was when St Paul’s hardworking Saoirse Tennyson won the Moneyglass kickout. Even when she was dispossessed by Moneyglass’ Rebecca Bradley, who was a defensive safehouse all day, Tennyson won the same ball back on her own 13-yard line. Nonetheless, Moneyglass got two more points from Aine Devlin and Prenter just before half time.
Heading into the second half, the scoreboard read: 6:7 to 1:3 in favour of St Ergnats. Again, the next half opened with both teams going toe-to-toe. Prenter broke the stalemate by sending the ball over the bar after six minutes. St Paul’s then seemed to rally, claiming the next two points, with the impressive Ciara de Brún and substitute, Lara Dahunsi, adding their names to the score sheet.
When Prenter’s shot at goal crashed off the cross bar it seemed as though St Paul’s had finally got luck on their side, but it was not to be. O’Neill won the rebound and was awarded a penalty after being fouled in the red and whites’ square. To add to St Paul’s plight, Caitlin McGuinness was shown red, while Perenter converted the penalty and added another goal to her personal tally.
Later, one half of the Devlin twins took a good score against the wind to put another point between the teams. Despite this mountain to climb, St Paul’s, to their credit, did not give up playing. The minutes ticking away, St Paul’s full forward lobbed a line ball into the Moneyglass square, which resulted in a forty-five. The same player took a strong kick off the ground, but the ball sailed wide.
The overall effort of the players out on the pitch was testified to when both halves of the Devlin twins went down with cramp. Each had a good game and were respectively subbed off. Prenter stole another point before the Sr Paul’s captain, Áine Ní Thiobraide was given a direct red. In the dying minutes of the game, St Paul’s put another free wide before going down to thirteen players: the second McGuinnes sister seen red. Carey added another point to her total, but it was the depleted team that closed the scoring for the day with a pointed free from Mairéad Ní Chúipéir.
As a match, the final had hard hits, great scores and even a derry player showcasing her talents (good game, Deirbhle), which made it a display of some impressive football. Proud parent, Paddy Kelly commented that it ‘was a long time coming’ but what matters was that it eventually did come. After the final whistle has gone, nine in a row is still a brilliant achievement in anything. For Moneyglass though, their hunger on the pitch showed that, for them, this one title was worth just as much.