Na Piarsaigh are celebrating a memorable championship success after coming out on top in an exciting Junior 2 Final against Mattock Rangers in Monasterboice on Sunday evening by a scoreline of 3-3 to 2-5.
Ciara Mills was the scoring hero for the Dundalk side as she claimed the winning goal five minutes from time before her side held out in a tense finale.
It was a bitterly disappointing defeat for a gallant Mattock Rangers side who gave their all over the hour and were very unlucky not to claim a draw as Nicole Hanratty’s injury-time free drifted inches wide.
The game also began in dramatic fashion as inside the opening minute the Collon girls took the lead when Kelly Gaffney fired to the back of the net.
However, the advantage didn’t last long as almost immediately Ciara Mills got in behind the defence to score the equalising goal.
Both sides were unable to take chances created over the next 14 minutes as they battled to take control, with Rachel Copperthwaite coming closest for Na Piarsaigh when her effort came back off the post.
The Dundalk girls did edge in front when Meabh O’Hagan kicked the first point of the game, but the Mattock response was swift as Shauna Quaile fired over.
Quaile added a second on 22 minute and in the 25th minute Nicole Hanratty latched on to a Kelly Ann Owens pass to scored a second goal and put Mattock in a strong position at half time, leading by 2-2 to 1-1.
Once again the second half started with a bang and within a minute Na Piarsaigh were back in contention as Chloe Enright reacted quickest to send the ball to the net after a free fell short.
By the 34th minute the teams were level again as captain, Mairead Nixon, landed a good point to make it 2-2 apiece.
The North Louth side enjoyed a good spell of possession but couldn’t make it count on the scoreboard and they were made pay when Nicole Hanratty pointed twice to make it 2-4 to 2-2 at the end of the third quarter.
As the tension began to mount, the impressive Jenny Donlon reduced the gap to a single point before Mairead Nixon was denied by a fine save from Amy Hanratty.
However, the decisive goal did arrive on 55 minutes when Mills got on the end of a crossfield ball to fire to the net.
Mattock refused to give up and in the 60th minute they reduced the gap through Nicole Hanratty and the same player was unlucky to send a difficult free wide with the last kick of the game as Na Piarsaigh held out.
In a game full of true championship passion, Na Piarsaigh had the Player of the Match in Jenny Donlon, while Niamh Lavery, Nicola Gorham, Rachel Copperthwaite and Ciara Mills were also impressive.
Mattock saw a superb display from Anna Brennan at fullback, while Amy Hanratty, and Nicole Hanratty also impressed alongside 14-year-old Shauna Quaile.
After the game, County Board Vice Chairman, Thomas O’Connor, presented the cup to captain Mairead Nixon.
Full Time: NA PIARSAIGH 3-3, MATTOCK RANGERS 2-5
NA PIARSAIGH: Niamh Lavery; Donna Byrne, Nicola Gorham, Sandra McAreavey; Majella Gallagher, Aideen Smith, Samantha Kelly; Meabh O’Hagan 0-1, Jenny Donlon 0-1; Ciara Mills 2-0, Rachel Copperthwaite, Mairead Nixon 0-1; Sinead Grey, Chloe Enright 1-0, Ciara Mannion. Subs: Victoria Prendergast, RacheAml Riordan, Caroline Hayes, Stacey Kearney, Shannon Madden.
MATTOCK RANGERS: Amy Hanratty; Emer Grimes, Anna Brennan, Laura Finnegan; Laura Carson, Lisa Duffy, Arelene Maguire; Kelly Gaffney 1-0, Isobel Donnelly; Kelly Ann Owens, Carmel Finegan, Grainne Reid; Shauna Quaile 0-2, Nicole Hanratty 1-3, Julie Sherlock. Sub: Anna O’Reilly for L Carson.
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