St Joseph's captain Orla Robbins lifts the trophy after her team's victory in the Westmeath LGFA Junior Championship final in Garrycastle last Saturday. Photo: Paul Molloy.

Classy St Joseph’s too strong for Cill Óige

Wright Windows Westmeath LGFA Junior Championship Final

St Joseph’s 3-13 Cill Óige 1-6

By Eamon A. Donoghue

Aoife Keegan gave a five-star performance as a dominant St Joseph’s side overpowered Cill Óige in the Westmeath LGFA Junior Championship final last Saturday.

The final was played in front of a substantial crowd in Garrycastle, with club officials indicating it may have been the largest crowd ever at a match hosted by the club.

Cill Óige simply had no answer to Keenan’s brilliance at midfield and the overall power packed display from St Joseph’s. The Streamstown/Horseleap side had an edge in fitness and that helped to lay the platform for the win.

In pleasant weather conditions, the winners struck for an early goal, although it was a fortunate one. Sinead Robbins was shooting for a point when the ball deceived Cill Óige keeper Eliza Jane Sheerin and dropped into the net.

Cill Óige got a boost when a shot from Rose of Tralee winner Rachel Duffy was guided into the Joseph’s net by Mairead Fox. Fox got a flick on Duffy's attempt for a point and St Joseph’s could have no complaints after their own lucky goal earlier.

Fox and the impressive Hazel Kelly both kicked some good scores for the Castledaly/Rosemount combination, but St Joseph’s were comfortable and on top in almost every department.

Lauryn McDonnell scored Joseph’s second goal towards the end of the first half. The outstanding Caoilinn Elliffe and Karen Keegan were both involved in the build-up before McDonnell finished with aplomb.

Robbins, Elliffe and Karen Keegan all got on the scoresheet and were running rings around their markers, but Aoife Keegan really stood out over the entire game.

St Joseph’s could have scored their third goal just before the interval, Eliza Jane Sheerin spilled an attempt for a point and the ball fell into the hands of Robbins, but Sheerin made up for the error by saving brilliantly. St Joseph’s were in the ascendancy, 2-6 to 1-4, at half-time.

St Joseph’s experience and strength was too much for Cill Óige in the second half. The winners got the perfect start after the resumption. Karen Keegan kicked the opening two scores after brilliant play by Elliffe. They were totally dominant and only for some wayward finishing would have been further ahead.

Despite St Joseph's having two players sin-binned for picking up yellow cards - Sinead Robbins early in the second half and substitute Emer Killian late on - Cill Óige were unable to take advantage of having an extra player.

Elliffe’s 49th-minute goal ended the game as a contest. Again, Aoife Keegan left a few Cill Óige players in her wake, with Robbins also getting involved, before Elliffe blasted left-footed to the net.

St Joseph’s then started to put clear daylight between the teams. Elliffe kicked three of her team's last four scores as the outstanding Aoife Keegan and graceful wing-back Kayla McDonnell continually laid chances on a platter. Both Keegan and McDonnell caused havoc with driving runs and Cill Óige struggled to handle the pace of the St Joseph’s players.

Cill Óige struggled around the middle to get enough possession and although they had forwards that could cause Joseph’s bother, particularly Hazel Kelly, the supply to her was limited.

Emma Kelly, one of Cill Óige key players, carried a knock into the game and although she never gave up, she simply didn't have it in the legs to drive on her team. But Cill Óige will learn from this loss and can be back in the final next year if they continue to improve.

Afterwards, St Joseph’s captain Orla Robbins was presented with the trophy by Westmeath LGFA chairperson Geraldine Giles as the club's players and a large gathering of supporters celebrated.

Player of the match: Aoife Keegan (St Joseph’s). Caoilinn Elliffe attacked relentlessly with her cultured left foot and Kayla McDonnell played some Rolls Royce football at wing-back, but Keegan (who was chosen for the official award) was running harder than anyone else into added on time. An athletic player, Keegan was willing to do the groundwork and pass the ball off to teammates to take the scoring plaudits.

Key moment: Lauryn McDonnell’s goal shortly before half-time was crucial. Instead of St Joseph’s going in leading by two points at the interval, McDonnell’s goal gave her side a 2-6 to 1-4 advantage at the break and it was too much daylight for Cill Óige to pull back in the second half.

Scorers - St Joseph’s: C Elliffe 1-4, S Robbins 1-2, L McDonnell 1-1, K Keegan 0-4, C Conlon and S Kearney 0-1 each. Cill Óige: M Fox 1-1, H Kelly 0-3 (2f), K Burslem-Rotheroe and A Collins 0-1 each.

St Joseph’s: Aine Maxwell, Cliona McCormack, Orla Robbins (captain), Ellie Conway, Joyce Conway, Roisin Killian, Kayla McDonnell, Karen Keegan, Aoife Keegan, Lauryn McDonnell, Caoilinn Elliffe, Claire Conlon, Sile Kearney, Sinead Robbins, Niamh Kearney. Subs used: Emer Killian for L McDonnell (52 mins), Ciara Daly for S Kearney (56), Keelin Robbins for O Robbins (60), Molly Russell for Elliffe (60).

Cill Óige: Eliza Jane Sheerin, Patricija Dubure, Lisa Gallagher, Anna Cornally, Orlaith Foxe, Emma Kelly, Ciara Nugent, Therese O’Reilly, Anna Sheerin, Rachel Duffy, Kacey Burslem-Rotheroe, Mairead Fox, Aisling Boland, Michelle King (captain), Hazel Kelly. Subs used: Amanda Collins for Gallagher (injured, 26 mins), Emily Fielding for King (44), Aaliyah Farrell for Duffy (44), Aine Hanevy for Fox (52), Hannah Fox for Nugent (58), Claire Sheerin for Cornally (59).

Referee: Barry Nea.