Annaghdown ladies crowned All-Ireland football champions

Annaghdown players celebrate with the cup following the All Ireland Ladies Football Intermediate Club Championship Final 2016 match between Annaghdown and Shane O’Neills at Parnell Park in Dublin.              Photo:Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Annaghdown players celebrate with the cup following the All Ireland Ladies Football Intermediate Club Championship Final 2016 match between Annaghdown and Shane O’Neills at Parnell Park in Dublin. Photo:Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

The Annaghdown ladies did themselves, their families, and their club proud on Sunday afternoon in Parnell Park when they won the All-Ireland Intermediate club football title in style.

Although the victory looked a little ominous for them at half-time when Annaghdown were behind 2-3 to 0-5, they went on to win by 1-13 to 3-5 over the Ulster champions, Shane O' Neills, from Armagh

Annaghdown were not playing well, and went 20 minutes without a score in that half after Rachel King’s 10th minute point was finally followed up by a Duggan free approaching half-time. And, it could have been worse but for the Armagh women hitting eight wides in the opening 30 minutes.

However, the Annaghdown management team of Tom Murphy, Richard McNicholas and Claire Burke Coen said what needed to be said at the interval, got things back on track, made a few tactical changes, and the Galway champions came out and played some terrific stuff in the second half.

King hit 1-4

Their most potent forward Rachel King scored a crucial goal in the second period in a top-class personal performance that saw her end the game with 1-4 from play.

To be four down at half-time and come back and win by two points, outscoring O'Neills by 1-8 to 1-2 in the second period, spoke volumes for Annaghdown's self-belief, conviction and fitness.

Annaghdown had a small bit of luck when Shane O’Neills were rocked by a yellow card for key midfielder Shauna Grey five minutes after the break, and in that 10 minutes, Tom Murphy's charges really made hay, and hit 1-5 to put them in control of the game.

Shane O'Neills had a real threat up front too with Armagh senior ace Aimee Mackin who hit 2-4, but young Bronagh Quinn at full-back stuck to her task diligently, and with good support from Fiona Wynne and Jemma Burke they managed to quell Mackin's scoring threat.

Annaghdown had other big performances from Gráinne Barrett at centre forward, who hit four points, and team captain and former Galway star Niamh Duggan and Nicola Burke, who each hit two points.

Erin Coyle, Chloe Crowe, Aoife Scully and Chelsie Crowe also worked hard and gave their all for the cause, but this was a real squad effort that got them over the winning line.

When Annaghdown needed leaders in that second half, they had them, and that is a key reason why they are All-Ireland champions.

Substitutes

A colossal ingredient in Annaghdown's success this season has been the part played by their substitutes, and the impact they made on Sunday was no different.

Ciara McCarthy, Kelsey Forde and Regina Naughton are all young players, still in their teens, and all three came off the bench and made positive contributions with McCarthy also raising a white flag and being a key influence in turning the decider Annaghdown's way.

It has been a spectacular year for the ladies' club and their loyal supporters have really rallied in behind the team with a massive crowd of maroon and white fans cheering them on last Sunday in Dublin.

The team's county, provincial and All-Ireland successes has been a great lift to the parish over the past few months, and their supporters can now look forward to seeing them in action in the Galway senior championship in the coming year.

Scorers for Annaghdown: R King 1-4, G Barrett 0-4 (2f ), N Burke & N Duggan (1f ) 0-2 each, C McCarthy 0-1.

Annaghdown: MK Killilea, J Burke, B Quinn, F Wynne, Chelsie Crowe, Chloe Crowe, T Keane, E Coyle, N Burke; N Duggan (Cpt ), G Barrett, A Scully, N Comer, R King, E Keane. Subs used: C McCarthy for Keane, K Forde for Comer, R Naughton for Scully.

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