Connacht girls claim historic first interpro crown

The winning Connacht squad and management team from this weekend's U15 girls soccer interprovincial tournament. Front row (r-l),  Sarah Farragher, Kate Slevin, Sarah Kiernan, Muireann Devaney, Shauna Brennan, Chellene Trill, Emer O'Neill, Helen Monaghan, Saoirse Healey, Annie Gough. Backrow (r-l), Sean Boland, Seamus McCafferky, Kate O'Dowd, Anna Fahy, Abbie Callanan, Amy Mahon, Therese Kinnevey, Hannah Walsh, Aoibheann Costello, Erin Taheny, Fabienne Cooney, Dom Coll.

The winning Connacht squad and management team from this weekend's U15 girls soccer interprovincial tournament. Front row (r-l), Sarah Farragher, Kate Slevin, Sarah Kiernan, Muireann Devaney, Shauna Brennan, Chellene Trill, Emer O'Neill, Helen Monaghan, Saoirse Healey, Annie Gough. Backrow (r-l), Sean Boland, Seamus McCafferky, Kate O'Dowd, Anna Fahy, Abbie Callanan, Amy Mahon, Therese Kinnevey, Hannah Walsh, Aoibheann Costello, Erin Taheny, Fabienne Cooney, Dom Coll.

The Connacht Schools U15 girls soccer team captured the interprovincial title for the first time, and they did so with a clean sweep over their fellow rivals.

After many years of finishing second, they finally made the breakthrough to bring the trophy west of the Shannon at the weekend, defeating Ulster in their first game 7-2, Munster by 3-0, and finally Leinster 2-0.

They took control from the start, and dominated their Ulster counterparts. Oughterard's Anna Fahy had a few early shots before Presentation Athenry's Saoirse Healy pounced on a mistake to slot home from close range. Fahy made it 3-0 with two more strikes from outside the box before Ulster got one back. However Claregalway's Shauna Brennan slotted Connacht's fourth as Mercy Tuam's Aoibheann Costello continued to proved a handfull for the Ulster defence.

Fahy grabbed her hat-trick 10 minutes into the second half, soon followed by her fourth to make it 6-1.

Although Ulster reduced the deficit through Kerry Brown, Abbie Callanan scored Connacht's seventh and final goal. Best for the western side was Amy Mahon (Charlestown ) in goal along with Erin Taheny (Ballysadare ), Annie Gough (Gortnor Abbey ) and player of the match, the four-goal hero Anna Fahy.

Munster, next up for Connacht, were, as expected, tougher opponents, and they nearly took the lead but for great work from Claregalway's Chellene Trill. Anna Fahy was frustrated throughout the half as she was doubled marked by the Munster defence, and the deadlock was not broken until the second half when the Oughterard player secured her fifth goal of the tournament. Mercy Tuam's Aoibheann Costello scored the second, and Cregmore's Katie Slevin scored from 10 yards outside the box to finish the scoring at 3-0. Best for Connacht was Annie Gough, Claregalway's Shauna Brennan and Chellene Trill, Emer o Neill (Kiltimagh ), but the player of the match was Muireann Devaney for her defensive work.

Connacht, needing only a draw to secure the trophy, took the field against Leinster seeking their sixth trophy in a row. Fahy had a few early chances and from one of her shots the Leinster keeper spilled the ball and Ballaghaderreen's Irish international Kate O'Dowd pounced for the opening goal.

With Chellene Trill, Emer O'Neill and Oughterard's Therese Kinnevey having a stormer in defence, Connacht pushed for the second goal. A tremendous run followed by a shot inside the box by Gort's Abbie Callanan left the Leinster keeper stranded.

Both teams exchanged chances for the rest of the half, and while Fahy came close on a few occasions, Galway could not add to their tally after half-time. Saoirse Healy proved lively up front for the last 20 minutes, Hannah Walsh (Claregalway ) maintained her excellent form in goal, while Kate Slevin controlled midfield throughout, winning the player of the match award. It was more than enough to create Connacht history, winning the interprovincial crown in style.

Anna Fahy finished the tournament with a record-breaking 11 goals in the interprovincial history, having also scored six the previous year.

Connacht: Hannah Walsh, Chellene Trill, Shauna Brennan and Kate Slevin (Claregalway ), Therese Kinnevey and Anna Fahy (Oughterard ), Sarah Kiernan and Helen Monaghan (Ursuline Sligo ), Annie Gough (Gortnor Abbey, Crossmolina ), Muireann Devanney (St Clare's Manorhamilton ), Kate O'Dowd (St Nathy's Ballaghaderreen ), Saoirse Healy (Presentation Athenry ), Erin Taheny (St Mary's Ballysadare ), Abbie Callanan (Got CS ), Emer O'Neill (Kiltimagh ), Aoibheann Costello (Mercy Tuam ), Amy Mahon (St Joseph's Charlestown ).

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