The UL Ladies football team stormed into the semi-finals of the 2017 O’Connor Cup after an impressive 11-point victory over a strong UCC team in the 4G pitch in UL this Wednesday afternoon.
Due to adverse weather conditions, the match was moved to the 4G Pitch as Pitch 1 was unplayable. UL adjusted to their surroundings the quickest rattling off 3 quick scores in the opening couple of minutes. The first came right from the throw in as wing back Joanna Cregg stormed forward past a couple off UCC players to slot over a beautiful point.
UL got their 4th score 15 minutes into the game after Emma Needham cut through the defence to extend their lead. UCC eventually got off the mark a minute later through a point from midfield. Full forward and Cork senior Doireann O’Sullivan then added another to half UL’s lead.
However, UL would strike a telling blow in the 20th minute as a well worked move involving the industrious Aisling McCarthy and Natasha Gaughan resulted in full forward Shauna Howley smashing the ball to the back off the net.
UCC replied immediately with another O’Sullivan point and looked to be in on goal only for a brilliant block from Galway’s Shauna Molloy to prevent the visitors. UCC would have two further goal chances before the break but could not breach the UL rear-guard which was led by the excellent Caoimhe McGrath at centre-back.
The home team would tack on another 4 points with only one reply from UCC before the break to give them a deserved 7-point lead, 1-8 to 0-4 at the half.
UL began the second like they did the first with a score straight from the throw in. After winning the ball, midfielder Louise Ward ran through the UCC defence before laying it off to Cork senior Eimear Scally for her first score from play in the game.
The Limerick side then scored three more without reply, the pick of the bunch from the influential Anna Galvin after a brilliant kick pass from the impressive Scally. UCC responded with a fine score of their own before conceding a penalty. Scally made no mistake from the spot leaving the score at 2-13 to 0-5 with 40 minutes on the clock.
With the game seemingly out of sight for the Cork ladies, they began to throw more players forward which saw them score 4 in a row to reduce the gap to 10. Doireann O’Sullivan was beginning to have a large influence on the game as she began to roam about the field. She was rewarded in the 51st minute with a finely taken goal.
She would then tap over yet another free to cut the lead to 6 points, with UCC having all the possession. UL couldn’t seem to find their way out of their own half and looked in danger of losing the game.
However, the UL ladies regained their composure in the final 10 minutes to once again pull away from UCC. A well taken Roisin Howard goal in the final minutes of the game sealed their place in the semi-final.
When the referee blew the full-time whistle, the score read 3-15 to 1-10 in favour of UL who deserved the win with a string of strong performers throughout the field.
They will now face a semi final a week on Friday in The Connacht centre of excellence. UCC will now get a second chance with a quarter final hoping to join today’s victors for the finals weekend.
Player of the Match: UL had several players who really shone in the bleak conditions such as Cork’s Eimear Scally, Aisling McCarthy and Anna Galvin who contributed their fair share of scores and Joanna Cregg who was very impressive from wing back. However, it would be Waterford’s Caoimhe McGrath that steadied the ship throughout. Always a calm presence at centre back as she led from the beginning and was instrumental in the win.