Salthill Devon Ladies secured a second national title for the club when claiming the honours in the All Ireland Intermediate Cup final over local rivals Galway Bohemians.
With 10 of last year’s victorious u-16 squad, Salthill’s victory was, as expected, hard earned on a wet and windy night in Terryland on Saturday.
It was always going to take a little piece of magic to break the deadlock, and the appreciative crowd who turned up were not let down when Lucy Hannon scored the game’s only goal in the second half.
The trophy is the second Salthill have won in a fortnight, having already claimed this year’s WFAI u-16 Cup for a second successive year.
For the opening half hour of Saturday’s all-Galway decider, the Salthill girls dominated matters with the midfield duo of Meabh De Burca and Ruth Fahy controlling the exchanges in the centre of the pitch. On the flanks Brenda Flannery and JulieAnn Russell revelled in the open expanses of Terryland Park’s playing pitch, and it was Bohs’ Melissa Casserly who was certainly the busier of the two keepers. She was always her ever alert self, preventing Rachael O’Brien, De Burca, and Flannery from opening the scoring for Salthill in the opening 25 minutes.
As the game wore on Bohs began to settle, and with Annette Clarke and Theresa Fahy at the back in commanding form, they started to create chances. After 32 minutes Rebecca McPhilbin saw her header from a great delivery from Grainne Barrett go narrowly over the bar. From then to half time Bohs had the upper hand and Nikki Cullina in the Salthill goal had to be at her best to thwart the lively Kara Mullins and a good effort from Linda Rice.
Aoife Burke and Michelle Glynn on the flanks also caused problems, but the Salthill rearguard was not to be breached with AnnMarie McDonough and Emer Flatley in imperious form in the centre and full backs Becky Walsh and Aine Hannon not putting a foot wrong.
Bohs played with the wind in the second half, but it was Salthill who started the better. On 53 minutes Lucy Hannon started and finished a brilliant move that was worthy of winning any game. Hannon, in possession with her back to goal, laid the ball off to Fahy in midfield who in turn found Walsh in the right back position. She clipped a wonderful ball in behind the Bohs’ defence and with her first touch, Hannon controlled the ball, and with her second she finished brilliantly passed the advancing Casserly.
Salthill, although in the driving seat, had to withstand some great forays from Deirdre Connell and Tara Gavin, but Salthill keeper Cullina dealt with everything that came her way. The introduction of Anna McCormack, Tessa Mullins, and Caroline Carter brought fresh legs and impetus to the seasiders, and if anything, they finished the stronger with a disallowed goal from Hannon and two great efforts from subs McCormack and Mullins well saved by Casserly.
Bohs’ sub Heather Duffy and Erin Lynch-Joyce were added to the contest and both made vital contributions, but in the end it was Salthill Devon’s night and a delighted Meabh DeBurca lifted the cup on behalf of her victorious team mates.
This was a wonderful night for ladies’ football and in particular Galway ladies football. It augurs well for Stephen Lally’s senior side as they travel to Waterford this Sunday in the final of the WFAI Senior Cup that so many of his squad are in top form. Another senior cup beckons for Galway and hopefully another foray into Europe next year.
Bohemians: Melissa Casserly, Deirdre Connell, Tara Gavin, Theresa Fahy, Annette Clarke, Grainne Barrett, Aoife Burke, Linda Rice, Kara Mullins, Rebecca McPhilbin, Michelle Glynn. Subs, Heather Duffy, Erin Lynch-Joyce, Jessica McSweeney, Aoife Kelly, Valerie Hamilton, Anne Quirke.
Salthill Devon: Niki Cullina, Becky Walsh, Aine Hannon, Emer Flatley, AnnMarie McDonough, Lucy Hannon, Meabh De Burca (capt ), Ruth Fahy, Julieanne Russell, Brenda Flannery, Richael O’Brien. Subs, Anna McCormack, Tessa Mullins, Caroline Carter, Daga Zolty, Jenny O’Mahony, Imelda Gordon, Maevellen Moyles, Clare Brennan.