The St Michael's players celebrate after their final victory.

Young Saints deservedly take title in gripping contest

Pascal Reilly

Following an epic contest St. Michael's secured the Girls u-13 Div 4 title as they just about held out against a gallant Duleek/Bellewstown side in an epic battle in Dunganny on Sunday afternoon.

The sides were level 1-4 to 2-1 at the interval before St Michael's pushed on to win by the narrowest of margins, 1-6 to 2-2.

There was a great air of expectation around the winners camp in the build up to this game and the contest did not disappoint.

It was a hugely entertaining match, a joy to watch as both sets of supporters which included every family member right down to the players' godparents who packed the sidelines of the Dunganny pitch on what was a perfect day for football - and they experienced the whole gamut of emotions as the drama unfolded.

The game was barely a minute old when top scorer on the day Lauren Reilly opened the scoring after collecting a pass delivered with pinpoint accuracy from Kate McKenna, she made a bee-line for the Duleek/Bellewstown goals with only one intent and she duly blasted to the back of the net.

Both sides enjoyed plenty of possession but failed to put it to good use as both sets of backs did tremendous work in keeping scores to a minimum, that said the St. Michael's girls extended their lead to four points on 10 minutes when Reilly split the posts with her opening point, however Duleek/Bellewstown were rewarded for their perseverance and goaled just before the first water break.

The combination side added their second major two minutes after the re-start but Chloe Callaghan replied with a pointed free minutes later. A well struck '45 from McKenna put the match all square on twenty minutes, this was followed by another Lauren Reilly point from play to edge her team back in front again but that lead lasted all of four minutes as Duleek/Bellewstown left it 2-1 to 1-4 at the half time interval.

In the third quarter it was end-to-end football but neither side could manage a score so Letoya Lynch broke the deadlock to post the opening point of the second half when she calmly punched over the crossbar, Lauren Reilly added a further well struck effort from play for a two point lead on 23 minutes, Duleek/Bellewstown left just a point between the sides three minutes later.

A nail-biting 5 minutes of injury time ensued but the St. Michael's girls kept their cool and stood their ground, Kate McKenna ( who was prominent throughout ) and their defence hunted down the player in possession which ensured that whenever their opponents created a chance to score they were always surrounded and put under intense pressure taking the shot and more often than not the ball was cleared downfield.

It was devastation at the end of an absolutely thrilling game for the Duleek/Bellewstown girls as they lost out by a solitary point to the St. Michael's girls who had to use all their resilience and character to see off the brave challenge of the losers.

St. Michael's - M Quilton; O O'Loughlin, A Donlon; A Reilly, E Jackson, E Keogan; A Rogers, K McKenna (0-1); L Lynch (0-1), T McCabe, A Farrell; L Reilly (1-3), C Callaghan (0-1). Subs: M Jackson for Farrell, Z Cogan for Keogan, O Cassidy for Quilton.