The Caltra Cuans junior lady footballers face St Enda’s (Tyrone ) in the replay of this year’s AllI reland Junior Ladies Championship final on Saturday at 2pm, in Mullahoran in Cavan.
The Caltra Cuans football club was only formed in 2001 and has made great strides in the past few seasons.
It has already annexed the All-Ireland club seven’s title this year and now it hopes to finish off the season in tremendous style by collecting the All-Ireland Junior title this weekend.
As one would expect in the current weather conditions and it being December, last weekend’s game was a dour encounter as evidenced by the final score-line of 0-7 to 0-7.
Caltra Cuans showed great resilience to equalise deep in injury time when wing-forward Emma Naughton came up with the crucial score to give her side another chance of achieving national success this Saturday.
Despite needing that late score for parity, Caltra will feel they should have made better use of their possession in the second half.
They practically owned the ball, but could not get the all-important scores to reflect that superiority.
St Enda’s used the well documented and studied Tyrone tactic of massing their defence, and the Caltra forwards found that strategy extremely difficult to break down.
There were some sterling displays by the Caltra Cuans girls with Aoife Ni Cheallaigh, Cariosa McHugh and Sarah Noone doing well in defence.
Laura Naughton and team captain Ciara Kilroy worked tremendously hard at midfield and won the lion’s share of possession in the second half, and current Galway camogie All-Stars Niamh and Orla Kilkenny were always dangerous up front, with Emma Naugthon and Orla Hannon notching some crucial scores.
Both defences were on top in the first half and with Enda’s prepared to pull large numbers behind the ball, the Galway ladies struggled badly to trouble the umpires.
At half time, they were behind by three points, 0-5, to 0-2.
Caltra Cuans much better in the second half
Team manager Gabriel Naughton and his management team of Seán O’ Ceallaigh, Marie Mannion and Breda Hanlon worked the oracle at half time and their charges came out in the second half with a different attitude, and greater belief and conviction to completely dominate proceedings.
Full-forward Orla Hannon, who was player of the match in the semi-final success over Moyle Roves, pointed quickly from play after marvellous work by Helen Cullinane, Aine Tully and Sarah Noone. That score lifted the side and the large contingent of supporters who had made the trip to Mullahoran.
Caltra missed a few easy chances at that stage and should have gone ahead if they had been more composed and used their possession with greater guile.
The management team then made the proactive decision to counteract the massed Tyrone defence by replacing corner back Sinead Flood, who had a fine game, with Theresa Loughnane who plies her trade as a forward.
It was an inspired decision as Loughnane scored a tremendous point on her introduction and made a significant contribution.
Caltra’s next score came from county senior star Sarah Noone who raced up the field for an inspirational point from centre-back.
However St Enda’s pointed a free four minutes into injury time to put them one ahead, and they looked ready to add another All-Ireland title to Tyrone’s growing list of successes, but Caltra Cuans stuck to their guns and got their just reward when wing-forward Emma Naughton shot the equaliser to set up Saturday’s replay.
Club chairman Mike Mockler is hopeful the side can go on and complete the job this weekend.
“They are a fantastic bunch of players and seven or eight of them are only minors, so to win the All-Ireland this year would be wonderful. They have worked hard all season and, if they play like they did in the second half last Saturday, there is no reason why they cannot go out and win. Gabriel [Naughton] and his management have them in great shape and we are hopeful the game will go ahead weather permitting and that we will be All-Ireland champions by Saturday evening.”
Caltra Cuans: Lucy Greene, Sinead Flood, Cariosa McHugh, Helen Cullinane, Aoife Ni Cheallaigh, Sarah Noone, Aine Tully, Laura Naughton, Ciara Kilroy (capt ), Emma Naughton, Orla Kilkenny, Niamh Kilkenny, Breda Hanlon, Orlaith Hannon, Aine Mannion. Subs used, Sinead Mannion, Theresa Loughnane, Megan Kelly.