Sacred Heart School Westport

Beaten but Unbowed

LIDL All Ireland Post Primary Schools Senior ‘A’ Final Sacred Heart School, Westport 0-15 Loreto, St. Michael’s, Navan 3-09 Match Report by A Flatley at Glennon Bros, Pearse Park, Longford
Beaten but Unbowed

Beaten but Unbowed

LIDL All Ireland Post Primary Schools Senior ‘A’ Final

Sacred Heart School, Westport 0-15 Loreto, St. Michael’s, Navan 3-09

A Flatley at Glennon Bros, Pearse Park, Longford

Whoever coined the old adage that winning isn’t everything clearly never experienced the heartbreak of losing an All Ireland Final, a final in which you led for the majority and were arguably the better team, but they may just have had a point. Although they won’t want to hear it while the hurt remains fresh in the days and weeks which follow, the Senior panel of the Sacred Heart School have thrilled and enthralled not only their own school but an entire community, for whom the memories will remain long after the shine has worn off any silverware.

The atmosphere created pre-game was a credit to the supporters of both schools but it was the Westport faithful who had more to cheer about in the opening moments. Excellent work by Hannah Sheehy saw her draw a foul, allowing Aoife Staunton to open the scoring from the resultant free and settle any early nerves. Loreto were about to hit back in devastating fashion though. There seemed to be little danger as captain Lilly Dwyer claimed her own kickout but the ball was quickly worked through the hands of Zoe Harte and Rebecca Reilly, who played in Lauren Woods, to fire into the back of Aoife Calvey’s net.

The Meath side’s lead would be short lived however, as the Sacred Heart would reel off the game’s next four points without reply. A foul on Sarah Mulroy this time saw Laura Moran convert the placed ball. Excellent work from Sheehy allowed Christina McEvilly to race in to split the posts, before Staunton added her second of the contest with a wonderful effort from distance. This was soon followed by a single from Sheehy, to send John Coyle’s charges two points clear.

But parity would soon be restored once more, as a long-range effort from Lucy Reynolds was followed up by one from Ciara Smyth. It was now the turn of the Girls in Blue to respond and they did so with a brace of their own. Clever play from Staunton to work a free short to McCarney, saw her raise a white flag, before the unerring Moran added her second free of the half. The tit-for-tat nature of the contest would continue as a slick team move from St. Michael’s was finished off by a wonderful effort from Lauren Woods. Not to be outdone her opposite number, Ava Palasz took Sheehy’s pass, backed herself and sent a peach straight over the black spot.

From here to the short whistle it was all Sacred Heart, as the industry of their defensive set-up kept Navan scoreless for more than ten minutes. Two outstanding interceptions from Eimear Geraghty and Mulroy were instrumental in keeping their opponents at bay. At the other end a wonderful ball from Moran picked out Palasz, who squared to Staunton to tap over. Things almost got so much better for the Westport women when a one-two between Mulroy and Ava Kelly, saw the former play in McEvilly but goalkeeper Alex Connor produced an excellent save to keep her goal intact.

A third point of the half from Moran, her first from play, was added to on the stroke of half time by a free from Staunton, to send the Sacred Heart School in at the break with a healthy five-point lead.

An outstanding block from Lisa Hastings denied Loreto an almost certain goal early in the new half, but the Meath ladies would not have long to wait before raising another green flag. A converted free from Smyth opened the second half scoring but a goal would soon follow. Good pressure from Tara Traynor saw her secure possession deep inside the Westport half, before playing in Smyth, who unselfishly squared to Woods for the simplest of finishes.

The Connacht champions would soon fire back, and a foul on Palasz was punished again by Moran. Navan then had Connor to thank once more, as she was on hand to prevent Westport from claiming a major. Fine work by Hastings, saw her pick out Staunton, who played in the onrushing Kelly but Connor would not be beaten, fisting away a pile driver from the Burrishoole wing-back. Smyth and Staunton would then trade scores, before Smyth sent a good goal chance narrowly wide of the left-hand upright.

Loreto were starting to pile on the pressure and despite a number of wides, they eventually cut the gap to one with a point from Sarah Jane Lyons. Westport would again find a response however, as Moran again pointed a free. It suddenly looked as if all the momentum had swung in Sacred Heart’s favour when Orlaith Reilly was sinbinned for a dangerous tackle on Beth Hoban.

Unfortunately for the Mayo school the opposite was true, as the loss of O’Reilly seemed to galvanise the Meath outfit and they would hit 1-3 without reply, in a devastating five-minute spell. Points from Reilly and Smyth, were added to by a third goal from Woods and a pointed free from Smyth. To their credit the ladies from the Sacred Heart battled on gamely and threw everything at Loreto in the final minutes, but the goal they desperately needed would not come. Chloe Chambers did manage to send over late on, but it would prove a mere consolation as Loreto clung on for the win.

Sacred Heart scorers: Aoife Staunton (2f) and Laura Moran (4f) 0-5 each, Sorcha McCarney, Christina McEvilly, Hannah Sheehy, Ava Palasz and Chloe Chambers 0-1 each.

Loreto, Navan scorers: Lauren Woods 3-1, Ciara Smyth 0-5 (2f), Lucy Reynolds, Rebecca Reilly and Sarah Jane Lyons 0-1 each.

Sacred Heart School, Westport: Aoife Calvey, Eimear Geraghty, Alana McDonnell, Ria Cafferkey, Ava Kelly, Beth Hoban, Ellie Hyland, Sarah Mulroy, Sorcha McCarney, Lisa Hastings, Laura Moran, Hannah Sheehy, Ava Palasz, Aoife Staunton, Christina McEvilly. Subs: Eabha Carney for Hyland (34), Chloe Chambers for McEvilly (45), Larissa Kelly for Hoban (57).

Loreto, St. Michael’s, Navan: Alex Connor, Megan Clarke, Megan Coyne, Steffi Finegan, Isabel O’Connor, Zoe Harte, Lilly Dwyer, Rebecca Reilly, Mia Brady, Sarah Jane Lyons, Ciara Smyth, Lucy Reynolds, Lauren Woods, Tara Traynor, Emma Brogan. Subs: Orlaith Reilly for Lucy Reynolds (h.t), Rosanna O’Neill for Finegan (45).

Ref: Shane Curley (Galway)

Senior All Ireland Final Report 2023.pdf

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