BEALNAMULLA FC 1 BIRR TOWN 1
The chase for honours in the Combined Counties Football League Women’s division is heading for an exciting climax.
Both Bealnamulla and Willow Park are well placed to lift the title with the Athlone teams currently occupying the top two spots on the table. Bealnamulla are two points clear but both Killeigh and Mullingar Athletic, with games in hand, are set to pounce on any slip up.
With Willow Park idle, Bealnamulla had the chance to stretch their lead at the top of the table but had to settle for just a point after entertaining mid table Birr Town last Sunday afternoon. After dominating the opening half, Gerry Mulvey’s team went behind just before the hour mark. Cher Hogan levelled matters but the hosts could not strike for a winner before full time.
The only surprise after the opening half had concluded was that Bealnamulla were scoreless. The half was dominated for long periods by the hosts but the young Birr outfit held firm. Clare Raftery, Hannah Martin and Ger Griffith all had early chances to open the scoring.
Substitute, Lucia Reynolds, was quickly into action after coming on but was denied by the busy Birr keeper with the last home chance seeing Reynolds firing wide. A rare chance fell the visitors way just before the break but Ciara Flynn failed to make the most of a good opportunity.
Having been under pressure for much of the first half, Birr came out of their shell when play resumed. It looked to be only a matter of time before Bealnamulla scored but instead it was the Offaly team that struck first.
The first chance on two minutes saw Birr's Tara Seguin fire against the bar. Team captain Rachel Emerson had the first home chance but still it was Birr that were the sharper outfit.
The deadlock was finally broken just shy of the hour mark. The goalkeeper’s clearance worked its way to Ellen Regan, a super strike on the volley giving Noreen Devery no chance in the goal.
Dropping points at home was not on the Bealnamulla agenda and they looked to rectify the situation. Yasmin Rodgers fired wide with Reynolds having a shot blocked. Karen Irwin and Emerson had further chances but Regan could have stretched the Birr lead when capitalising on some sloppy play.
A frustrating afternoon was avoided when the equaliser came after 78 minutes. A low shot from Rodgers was parried by the Birr keeper but Hogan was on hand to finish to the net from close range.
The home team now went in search of a winner. A corner kick was followed by Griffith having a chance to put Bealnamulla ahead. The visitors too had the opportunity to go back in front but Devery denied Nessa Hart. The final home attacks saw two further corners being earned but Birr held on to claim a precious point. Bealnamulla may regret not turning all their possession in the first half into goals as the top four tighten up on the league table.