Peer­less Parke on song for Balt­in­glass

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT - BREN­DAN LAWRENCE at Bless­ing­ton GAA Club

BALT­IN­GLASS and AGB served up an ab­so­lute cracker of a game in the first of three ladies foot­ball county fi­nals in Bless­ing­ton on Sun­day with the Slaneyside­rs emerg­ing vic­to­ri­ous by two points af­ter a scin­til­lat­ing bat­tle.

It’s the per­for­mance of full-for­ward Ella Parke that will cor­rectly grab the head­lines as she to­tally dom­i­nated this game de­spite the very best ef­forts of AGB full-back Ciara Forde and cen­tre back Méadbh Ní Chonchub­hair when Forde was in the sin bin.

But while Parke was ruth­less in front of the posts it was her col­leagues all over the field who re­ally shone again­sta youth­ful and am­bi­tious AGB side who twice dragged them­selves back to within a sin­gle point of the Balt­in­glass women who at one stage had opened up 0-10 to 0-4 lead close to the end of the first half.

The tal­ented Parke was ably as­sisted by team cap­tain Julie Fitz­mau­rice who ad­mit­ted af­ter the game that com­ing back to foot­ball for an­other year was a great de­ci­sion and that the vic­tory was one she was savour­ing the most af­ter a long and fruit­ful ca­reer.

The age­less and im­pe­ri­ous Ann Marie Do­ran was su­perb, Katie Ed­wards re­lent­less, Chloe O’Neill busy through­out. Ciara O’Brien and Emma Flem­ing en­joyed a fierce bat­tle with Leah Hersee and Aoife Ka­vanagh in the mid­dle of the field while Han­nah McHugh, Emily Han­nifin and Ni­amh O’Brien formed a very strong half-back line for the Balt­in­glass side.

Cor­ner-back Jes­sica Moore was ex­cpetional in this game and cleared any amount of dan­ger­ous ball. Anna Fitz­patrick had the not in­signif­i­cant job of trying to cur­tail the very im­pres­sive Car­lene Doyle and kept her to three points from play while Chloe Humphries was very ca­pa­ble in the cor­ner.

Balt­in­glass goal­keeper Aideen Fo­ley was beaten twice but turned in a very com­mend­able per­for­mance with some good saves and qual­ity kick-outs.

AGB had some im­mense per­for­mances through­out their side and were gut­ted at the fi­nal whis­tle when they came up two points short.

Ab­bie Healy were very com­pe­tent in goals. Ni­cole Byrne and Zoe Tackas were im­pres­sive in the cor­ners and Ciara Forde, who to be fair was given the tough­est task of any­one across the three county fi­nals, tried valiantly to slow Parke down and fell foul of ref­eree Jee Bren­nan at the end of the third quar­ter and was sent to the sin bin with the scores read­ing 0-11 to 1-6 in favour of Balt­in­glass.

AGB’s half-back line of Becky Birm­ing­han, Méadbh Ní Chonchub­hair and Iso­bel Carr worked tire­lessly through­out this game as did mid­field­ers Leah Hersee and Aoife Ka­vanagh with Ka­vanagh re­ally im­press­ing with her strong run­ning and hunger for work.

Muire­ann Ní Chonchub­hair worked her socks off while Áine O’Reilly and Ni­amh Geoghe­gan were a thorn in the Balt­in­glass de­fence over the course of the hour.

Car­lene Doyle was AGB’s biggest threat in their full-for­ward line, but Lu­cie Kind­lon and Grace Kelly worked hard.

AGB opened the scor­ing through Áine O’Reilly off her left boot and this was fol­lowed by a wide from a free from Ni­amh Geoghe­gan.

Amaz­ingly, that was the only time AGB would lead in this game be­cause from here on in for the ma­jor­ity of the first half Ella Parke took con­trol of pro­ceed­ings.

The Balt­in­glass full-for­ward had their open­ing three scores, the first off her right, the sec­ond off her left and the third af­ter a poor AGB kick-out. She might be young but there’s ab­so­lutely no doubt that this tal­ented foot­baller will play for Wick­low at some stage in the very near fu­ture.

Katie Ed­wards swung over the fourth point for Balt­in­glass af­ter a ball from the hard-work­ing Grace Kelly be­fore Parke re­sumed scor­ing du­ties with six more points be­fore the half-time break with AGB grab­bing two more in be­tween through Car­lene Doyle (one free) with missed chances be­ing wor­ry­ingly gath­ered by AGB in that open­ing 30.

But AGB were given a huge boost right on the death of the first half when a long ball from Car­lene Doyle to mid­fielder Aoife Ka­vanagh saw Ka­vanagh fire home to the back of the Balt­in­glass net to trasnform a six-point deficit to a three-point deficit or in lay man’s terms a small moun­tain to climb to a gen­tle hill­side.

And that mo­men­tum from that late goal in the first half re­turned at the start of the sec­ond when AGB re­duced the Balt­in­glass ad­van­tage to a sin­gle point thanks to two fine ef­forts from Áine O’Reilly.

Car­lene Doyle was pre­sented with a goal chance shortly af­ter­wards but the chance was lost and the Ark­low women fol­lowed that way­ward shot up with two more wides and where they should now have been lead­ing by a healthy mar­gin their re­mained in the wake of Balt­in­glass who caught their breaths and be­gan to fight back.

Parke, Julie Fitz­mau­rice, and Katie Ed­wards pushed the Balt­in­glass lead out to 0-13 to 1-6 be­fore the ex­cel­lent Ni­amh Geoghe­gan stopped the rot with a fine score af­ter su­perb play from Muire­ann Ní Chonchub­hair.

Grace Kelly fol­lowed up a Katie Ed­wards wide with a qual­ity score to re­turn that lead to four points be­fore AGB were given a mighty boost when ref­eree Jess Bren­nan, who it should be noted had an ex­cel­lent game in the mid­dle, pointed to the spot af­ter a foul in the square and Car­lene Doyle drive it low and hard past Aideen Fo­ley to leave the min­i­mum be­tween the sides.

With three to go it was out to two thanks to a wicked score from Grace Kelly af­ter a short free from Parke as the ac­tion ebbed and flowed up the field.

Car­lene Doyle made it a one­point game with a de­cent score, but sub­sti­tute Leah Arnold re­turned Balt­in­glass out to that two­point cush­ion and AGB ran out of steam and time as Jess Bren­nan sounded the full-time whis­tle to her­ald joy­ous scenes among the Balt­in­glass play­ers, men­tors and sup­port­ers.

This was a mag­i­cal win for the Balt­in­glass women, fully de­served, hard-earned and one that should serve the club well as they move for­ward into 2020.

Scor­ers – Balt­in­glass: Ella Parke 0-10 (3f), Katie Ed­wards 0-2, Julie Fitz­mau­rice 0-1, Grace Kelly 0-2, Leah Arnold 0-1.

AGB: Car­lene Doyle 1-4 (1f, p), Áine O’Reilly 0-3, Aoife Ka­vanagh 1-0, Ni­amh Geoghe­gan 0-1

Balt­in­glass Ju­nior ladies foot­ball team cel­e­brate af­ter the county fi­nal with AGB in Bless­ing­ton last week­end.

Balt­in­glass foot­ballers show their de­light af­ter the fi­nal whis­tle in Bless­ing­ton.

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