Anville show mettle in absorbing final
High emotions as Vicki Walsh who was ruled out of the final after an accident celebrates a famous win.
Mount Anville 1 Rathdown 0: St Raphaela’s, Newpark, Teresians and High School had all tried and failed to find a way through the Rathdown defence in this season’s Leinster Senior Cup, but, at Grange Road yesterday, it was finally breached, Patricia McGowan’s 13th-minute goal proving enough to give Mount Anville their first success in the competition since 2002.
And none celebrated the victory more heartily than Vicki Walsh, a member of the Mount Anville squad, who was ruled out of the final after an accident last week. There were high emotions, then, as she was warmly embraced by both her coach, Maeve McCarthy, and her team-mates at full-time.
An absorbing final it was too, the first a Rathdown senior team, coached by Graham Shaw, had ever reached, with a nerve-jangling conclusion for the eventual winners.
There were plenty of outstanding individual displays, not least from Mount Anville’s Sara Twomey, a steadying and composed influence throughout for her team in centre midfield, from her captain Jane Fennelly (the Irish indoor tennis champion) at the back, and from Ailbhe Marsh, whose pace and trickery on the left wing tested Rathdown all afternoon.
Rathdown goalkeeper Blathnaid Breslin, too, excelled, a string of saves restricting the opposition to a single score to keep her school in the game, the most spectacular from Ella Fennelly (who will be competing in the Irish Schools Cross Country championships in Jordanstown at the weekend – they’re busy sporting folk, these Fennellys).
From a right-wing cross, Fennelly struck a first-time shot that was goal-bound until Breslin’s reflexes, somehow, kept it out, and it became clear why she has kept so many clean sheets this season.
The game had opened edgily enough, nerves prompting a stray pass or three, but after a spell of Rathdown pressure Mount Anville broke, a scramble in the circle ending with McGowan prodding the ball home. Marsh almost made it 2-0 soon after, her reverse shot going just wide, but it was Rathdown who forced the first penalty corner of the game, in the 22nd minute. That came to nothing, but from their second, just before the break, Sarah Hyland’s sweetly-struck shot, blocked at the left post, almost put them level.
Mount Anville looked to have gone 2-0 up early in the second half but Rachel Dooley O’Carroll’s beautifully taken effort was ruled out for obstruction, Breslin then denying Philippa Cotter, McGowan and Marsh when one or all seemed set to seal the game for their school.
But Rathdown rallied in the closing stages as they pressed for an equaliser, Lauren O’Leary leading the charge on the right wing, Twomey’s brilliantly timed tackle in the circle calling a halt to a surging run from Sarah Evans, before Mount Anville had to defend three short corners – all after the final hooter had sounded.
They survived, the ball joyously cleared from the circle after the third: Mount Anville triumphant.
Wesley College won the minor final in a shoot-out after drawing 0-0 with Mount Anville following extra-time.