Harps up the Tempo to win Historic Championship Title

posted 9 Sep 2018, 09:03 by Derrygonnelly Harps   [ updated 13 Sep 2018, 11:56 ]
Fermanagh Ladies Intermediate Championship Final
Harps 1-12 Tempo 2-5

A massive crowd turned out in Lisnaskea to watch this utterly absorbing encounter with both teams throwing everything at the game.  This was a real workmanlike (or work-woman-like) performance, every girl just grafted and in the end the Harpettes got the result that they thoroughly deserved.  And incredibly it is our first championship win at adult level for the Harps ladies.  24 years is a long time coming.  There were tears of absolute joy and relief at the full time whistle and no one could deny our ladies their day in the sun.

We got off to a good start, with Sarah-Jayne Jones pointing inside 2 minutes after Eimear Smyth delivered a wonderful pass to Imelda Jones who put Sarah-Jayne through.  A few minutes later Eimear Smyth pointed a free before Sarah-Jayne again was on target after a great through-ball from Auntie Imelda.  6 mins in and we were 0-3 to 0-0 up.  We were playing with the wind but up front Blaithin Bogue posed a real danger for Tempo.  They had hit the post from a free but Blaithin and Cadhla Bogue combined well for Zoe Leonard to open their account on 8 minutes.  Eimear probed forward on goal on 10 minutes but her shot just trickled wide, but from the kick out, Tempo gained possession from Roisin McCusker and she fed Blaithin Bogue who soloed 40 yards before slotting the ball low to the corner and suddenly the Harpettes were playing catch up.  1-1 to 0-3.  This was going to be a scrap.  Blaithin Bogue pointed for Tempo on the 15 minute mark to put them two points up. Eimear replied with a great individual score but changes needed to be made at the back and Sarah-Jayne had the unenviable task of tracking Blaithin Bogue and she did well, although in fairness the defence were switching and changing around a lot.  More on the defence later on but they earned their corn today!  Sarah-Jayne intercepted a ball in the goal mouth and the ball was worked forward to Emma and on to Imelda who hit a great point to level the game on 20 minutes.  Two minutes later Eimear again pointed and Tempo went up the field from the kick out and Louise Dundas was called on to make a super save from (who else) Blaithin Bogue and indeed minutes later both Andrea Gordon and Louise combined well to snuff out the threat of Bogue again.  Up the other end, Eimear was tormenting Tempo who often put two girls on her, although to Molly Flynns credit she stuck to her task rightly.  Eimear hit two points just before half time, with Emma Burns and Abigaile providing the leg work for the scores and at Half time the girls went in 1-2 to 0-8 ahead.

The second half saw Tempo playing with a fairly strong wind.  Eimear got things underway with a good point under considerable pressure.  We had plenty of possession here and were putting the tightner on Tempo, but the finishing touch just wasn't there.  The hugely impressive Aoibhinn Jones went on a lung-busting solo run up the right wing and saw her shot at goal sneak agonisingly wide. Imelda and Emma both were in the wars around the middle.  We had piles of chances. 15 minutes into the second half Eimear shook off three or four Tempo defenders and was through but she hit the post.  It was heart-in-your-mouth kinda stuff.  Tempo began to assert a bit of control around the middle and Kayleigh Bradley-West pointed for Tempo after Andrea Gordon made a superb block on a goalbound shot from Zoe Leonard.  That typified Andrea Gordons shift today - solid, putting out fires all over the place and remaining calm.  A high ball in from Bogue was really well handled by Louise, there was only 3 in it and Tempo were sniffing for another goal.  Erin Flanagan got stuck in around the middle a bit, feeding Emma who went for it and got the point, to put us 1-3 to 0-10 ahead.  Bogue missed an easy free and we work the ball up the pitch patiently before Eimear feeds Abi who knocked it out to Megan Maguire who pointed and with 25 minutes gone we were 1-3 to 0-11 ahead.  Eimear stroked over a free on 28 minutes but with quite a few injuries we knew there was going to be a lot of added on time.  A Lot.  Andrea Gordon again put in a block this time on Roisin McCusker to put the ball out for a 45 which Tempo worked in for Catriona Breen to point, followed up with a really great score from Bogue from 40 yards out. 1-5 to 0-12.  And then Tempo threw the kitchen sink at us.  Bogue won possession 35 yards out, put the head down and drove at the Harps, Sarah-Jayne kept her out wide until she turned inside and shot to the net. 2-5 to 0-12 and with 34 minutes gone the game was literally anyones.  Louises Kick out was caught well by Erin (a 'mark' worthy of Big Sean) who played it up the field to Imelda who won the free.  Emma took the free, passed to Eimear and she pointed to put us 2 up with 35 gone and no-one had any idea how long was left.  Tempo went on the attack again but the long ball in was dealt with brilliantly by Andrea Gordon.  Tempos defence were giving away frees as the clock was ticking down.  Claire Gallagher went off injured, Emma Leonard came on.  Eimear had a free on the sideline, time was surely bound to be up - she floats in it, its dropped and Abigaile Green gets her foot to it and its gone in! Jesus Mary and Joseph we've done it!  Surely that's it, Keeper kicks it out and referee Karol Bredshaw blows her up after 10 minutes injury time!!

The most striking thing about this game was the sheer graft and hard work that got the result.  Every lassie worked her socks off.  And no one could deny stalwarts like Louise Dundas, Emma Burns, Lisa Murphy, Abigaile Greene and captain Imelda Jones their championship medals.  This time last year, the girls had a tough hour against Devenish in the final, but they picked themselves up again and drove on to come back this year that wee bit stronger.  Young blood was brought into the panel and they definitely made a huge difference.  Louise dealt with high ball, low ball and indeed any ball that came her way in her usual no-nonsense style.  Her kickouts were good, especially in the first half.  Natasha Cox was steady at the back with Andrea Gordon and Lisa Murphy cool under pressure.  And while the scoring exploits of Eimear Smyth in particular will win many plaudits, this game was won in our half back line.  Aoibhinn Jones was superb, bombing up the field at will and her tackling was great.  Sarah-Jayne was brilliant too she scored some great points but when she was moved back, she stuck well to Bogue and used the ball she won very intelligently.  Claire Gallagher was another solid performer in the half back line, with Alannah Corrigan playing deep and covering well and using the ball well.  If we have such a thing as improved player of the year, then Alannah wins that category hands-down.  What a shift she put in!  In the middle you got experience from Emma Burns and graft from Erin Flanagan.  They worked damned hard.  Tempos midfield had plenty of pace and power but our girls did really well.  In the half forward line, Keira Elliott got into the game well in the second half, while Imelda played her heart out - as you always get from Imelda - always looking for the ball, always using it well and she can still pop them over as well.  Eimear had two girls on her at all times, and sometimes there were three or four in front of her, but she kept a cool head and her scores were so important and came at crucial times.  Inside, Megan Maguire and Stephanie Jones tried hard, Megan hitting a great score today and almost having another few too.  And Abigaile Greene worked hard.  She never stopped running.  She was always looking for that wee pop pass from Eimear, she played it wide when she needed to and she got her goal at the end.  Every lassie played her part.

Its kinda hard writing this and not feeling nostalgic.  These girls have done what has never been done before.  We got beat in 2007 by Donagh, we got beat last year by Devenish.  24 years we've been playing ladies football in this club.  But we won't have to wait another 24 years for the next title either.  This has been a brilliant weekend for the ladies teams in our club, and there's a buzz about that hasn't been here before.  Well done lassies.  And fair play to Niall Elliott.  He has put in a tremendous effort with these girls (as welll as their underage coaches) and he can be justifiably proud of the team performance today.  They can now look forward to a first-ever Ulster Club game for our ladies - Well done to our History Makers!  Harpettes Abu!!

Harps Ladies Panel Intermediate Championship Final 9th September 2018
Louise Dundas, Natasha Cox, Andrea Gordon, Lisa Murphy, Claire Gallagher, Erin Flanagan, Aoibhinn Jones, Sarah-Jayne Jones, Emma Burns, Keira Elliott, Eimear Smyth, Imelda Jones, Alannah Corrigan, Abigaile Greene, Stephanie Jones, Megan Maguire, Niamh Duffy, Nessa Corrigan, Emma Leonard, Niamh Cassidy, Tara McLoughlin, Catriona Duffy, Becky Gordon, Linda Brennan, Savannah Leonard