Late Mi­ley goal seals league ti­tle for Clara

Stun­ner from Sarah se­cures league honours for Clara af­ter thrilling bat­tle with Val­ley­mount

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT -

A stun­ning late goal from Clara’s Sarah Mi­ley proved to be enough to se­cure the league honours for her side af­ter a tremen­dous bat­tle with Val­ley­mount in Bless­ing­ton last Thurs­day evening.

Un­beaten in their seven league games to date, things were look­ing de­cid­edly un­healthy for Brian Olo­han’s charges when Val­ley­mount struck for a dev­as­tat­ing 3-3 in­side of the first 16 min­utes with ma­jors from the boots of Amanda Car­roll (two) and Caro­line Cahill that could well have de­stroyed a team’s con­fi­dence and paved the way for a cer­tain vic­tory for the Val­ley­mount side.

Clara boss Brian Olo­han says that once they got over the shock­ing start, they set­tled down well and got to work.

‘Af­ter we got over the heart at­tack of the first 10 or 15 min­utes the girls set­tled down and got stuck in and got back to ba­sics, be­cause we gave away three soft goals, in my opin­ion. We bat­tled hard and went in at the break one point up and then Val­ley­mount came back in the sec­ond half, but the girls stuck with it and kept work­ing. We’ve worked on a lot of things over the year but they all went out the win­dow to­day, that hap­pens in fi­nals. It’s all about set­ting up for cham­pi­onship against Val­ley­mount now, that’s all that mat­ters.

‘We’re un­beaten in the league, we won the first seven games, top two play off and we came out on top. My thoughts were it would have been very un­fair not to win the league af­ter win­ning all seven games. But it was a tough game, and we had a tough game against Val­ley­mount at home in the league as well, only won by four points and we were go­ing well so we know what’s ahead of us in the cham­pi­onship,’ he said.

The con­ces­sion of three early goals could well have floored his charges. Olo­han says that there is great spirit in the camp and that their re­cov­ery is a sign of re­ally good play­ers.

‘The spirit in that bunch is great. We talked about how teams will at times get on top and het ahead of you and have pur­ple patches and all that and to just keep at it, keep at it, keep at it, and they dig in even more once they fell be­hind and that’s a sign of good peo­ple and good play­ers,’ he added.

Val­ley­mount’s Emer Mi­ley was the first goal­keeper called into ac­tion in this game when she saved from the boot of Caitlin Olo­han in the open­ing ex­changes. Mi­ley would go on to have a se­ri­ous game be­tween the sticks, pulling off nu­mer­ous ex­cel­lent saves and pick­ing out her col­leagues with sub­limely ac­cu­rate kick outs.

Lau­ren Carter grabbed the open­ing score af­ter be­ing pic­jed out by full-for­ward Sarah Mi­ley with 60 sec­onds on the clock, but Saoirse Ní Thuathail replied af­ter good work from Sieve Byrne.

A free won and con­verted by Sarah Mi­ley af­ter a foul on full-back Ali Mi­ley (wear­ing num­ber six) re­turned Clara to the lead but the first of Val­ley­mont’s goals ar­rived af­ter six min­utes when Amanda Car­roll fin­ished coolly to the bot­tom cor­ner of Aoife Byrne’s net.

Worse, much worse was to fol­low for Clara. Im­pres­sive full-for­ward Caro­line Cahill went wide with a goal chance a minute later but then picked up a break­ing ball in the next at­tack and lobbed in a shot off her left that Aoife Byrne will know she should have gath­ered but the ball ended up in the back of the net – 2-1 to 0-1 af­ter eight.

Much of Val­ley­mount’s pos­ses­sion and threat was com­ing from the dy­namism and hard work of mid­fielder Sieve Byrne who was toil­ing hard out the field on a lovely evening for foot­ball.

Amy Burke won a free which Saoirse Ní Thuathail pointed but Lau­ren Carter ex­changed with Sarah Mi­ley at the other end to re­duce the deficit ever so slightly with 11 gone.

The re­cov­ery con­tin­ued three min­utes later when Carter lobbed Emer Mi­ley with a stun­ning ef­fort to drag Clara kick­ing and scream­ing back into this game at 2-2 to 1-3.

But disas­ter was a close friend of the Clara de­fence in the open­ing quar­ter and Amanda Car­roll’s sec­ond goal was fol­lowed swiftly by a fine point from Sarah Richard­son to leave the west side up by six at 3-3to1-3.

Full credit to Clara, they never once took a back­ward step. Heather Cullen, Lau­ren Carter and Ava Carter re­duced the deficit to three points af­ter 28 min­utes and in the space of 180 sec­onds Clara were a point ahead af­ter a wicked Sarah Mi­ley goal that flew low and hard past Emer Mi­ley and a point from the same boot af­ter Emer Mi­ley had saved su­perbly from an ef­fort on goal to leave Clare lead­ing by 2-7 to 3-3 af­ter a stun­ning 10-minute spell.

Val­ley­mount re­turned to the front in em­phatic style early in the sec­ond with points from Amy Burke (free) and Caro­line Cahill be­fore Burke pounced on a poor kick out to fire home her side’s fourth goal. And it could have and should have been worse with Sarah Richard­son miss­ing a won­der­ful goal chance mo­ments later.

On­wards the bat­tle raged. Where Val­ley­mount had been dom­i­nant, now it was the turn of Clara. Laura Clake started the re­vival with a fine point af­ter a long run. Lau­ren Carter goaled to level the game at 3-8 to 4-5 and then on they drove with two points from Sarah Mi­ley.

Some of the foot­ball might not have been the finest ever played but for ten­sion and drama this game had it all.

Amanda Car­roll brought Val­ley­mount to within a point be­fore Aopife Byrne put all those night­mares iun the first half be­hind her by mak­ing a su­perb catch af­ter 22 to pre­vent a Val­ley­mounty goal.

The west side did level mo­ments later through Katie Maguire from a free but an ex­change of points from Lau­ren Carter and Maguire was fol­lowed by Katie Mi­ley’s late goal that flew into the top cor­ner of Emer Mi­ley’s net to leave it 4-11 to 4-8.

Back came Val­ley­mount with two points from Caro­line Cahill, the first of which she might have had the time and space to power on in search of a ma­jor but the full-for­ward no doubt be­lieved she would have the time and op­por­tu­nity to at least se­cure a draw and she came oh so close.

Alas, time ran out and the fi­nal whis­tle sounded to the delight and re­lif of the Clara women af­ter a se­ri­ous bat­tle be­tween two very evenly matched sides who will meet in the cham­pi­onship on Thurs­day week.

That should be an epic en­counter! Clara man­ager Brian Olo­han said that at times there was lovely foot­ball played and that he would have to ques­tion the tackle rule in ladies foot­ball.

‘At times (lovely foot­ball). It was a lit­tle bit stop-starty at times and I have to ques­tion that tackle in ladies foot­ball.

‘It’s a lit­tle bit loose, a bit vague and open to in­ter­pre­ta­tion at times. Our girls like it tough, and Val­ley­mount do as well, but when the game was al­lowed to flow, we played well.

‘We were re­stricted a bit with Sarah Mi­ley car­ry­ing an in­ury so we had to sit her in­side. Ide­ally, we’d like her a bit fur­ther out the field, but you can see the dam­age she does in­side as well. Some great scores from all around the field, as did Val­ley­mount,’ he added.

Scor­ers – Clara: Sarah Mi­ley 2-4 (1f), Lau­ren Carter 2-4, Heather Cullen 0-1, Ava Carter 0-1, Laura Clarke 0-1.

Val­ley­mount: Amanda Car­roll 2-1, Caro­line Cahill 1-3, Amy Burke 1-2 (2f), Saoirse Ní Thuathail 0-2 (1f), Sarah Richard­son 0-1, Katie Maguire 0-1.

The Clara team who de­feated Val­ley­mount in the league fi­nal in Bless­ing­ton last week. Both sides will meet in the first round of the cham­pi­onship next week­end.

Clara cap­tain Maria Ho­gan, match ref­eree John Ber­ming­ham and Val­ley­mount cap­tain Eimear Ka­vanagh.

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