Tuesday 20 March 2018 11:14:06 PM

Bryansford Ladies Fend Off Strong Effort by Carryduff
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Match Report by Peter McGrath Jnr

The ladies senior Championship final saw Bryansford take on Carryduff in Bright on Saturday evening (1 September).

It was Carryduff’s first ever appearance in the Final, while for some of the Bryansford girls it was a third appearance at this stage of the competition. Nevertheless, whichever side went on to win the match, history would be made as neither had ever claimed the trophy previously. Carryduff had won the battle of the sides in the Preliminary round, edging the Ford out by a single point back in May, but Bryansford battled their way through the new back door system to earn their place in a second successive final.

It was Carryduff who took the early lead with a well struck left footed point from midfielder Megan Doherty, but a couple of points from Bryansford joint captain Natasha Ferris (1 free) did propel the Ford ladies into a lead by two points to one. Kate McKay and Hazel Johnson pointed either side of a third from Ferris, but a goal which seemed for a long time like it would be the difference between the sides came as Hazel Johnson found her way in behind the Ford defence. There was nothing could be done to prevent her shot which rose high to the roof of the net.

Natasha Ferris added another two points for the girls in green and gold, one of which was a goalbound effort tipped brilliantly over by Susie Baxter. Kate McKay did widen the gap to two by the break, and with the score at 1-4 – 0-5 it was clear to see that the defensive tactics of both sides were winning the day with the attackers being nullified in most instances.

The lack of potency in attack was a trend which continued through the first twenty minutes of the second half during which time only four points were scored. Emma Joyce kept Bryansford in it with a point blank save. Bryansford went straight down the pitch and Natasha Ferris had an effort on goal marvellously stopped by Baxter but in came back out to her fellow joint captain, and eventual player of the match – Katie Ward, who forced it over the bar.

Jessica Foy hit back for the Duff though for a long period thereafter the Ford dominated but just couldn’t put the scores on the board until that was a sixth point from Natasha Ferris closed the gap to the slenderest possible margin but almost immediately Hazel Johnson replied to keep the distance between the sides.

It remained this way until the final  ten minutes during which Bryansford bridged the gap and then went on to pull clear scoring 5 unanswered points. Substitute Shannon Kelly, who helped to turn the tide when she came on, pointed after good combination play with Clara Fitzpatrick and Katie Ward sent the leveller over with the clock ticking towards 60 minutes.

A quickfire brace from Natasha Ferris left the Ford sitting on a dangerous two point lead but Shannon Kelly rounded off the scoring wrapping the win up with Bryansford’s 12th point. The final whistle was met with desolation among the Carryduff camp but for Bryansford it was scenes of unbridled joy. Manager Seamus Brannigan attributed the win to the team’s hard work during the season “When you train as a team, you win as a team and that’s what we have done today” he said after the game. Mentor Liam Murphy and Club Chairman John Brannigan were singing off the same hymnsheet agreeing that the game was won in the last ten minutes.

“It was a very good achievement to come from two down with 10 to go and go on and win by three – it was brilliant”, exclaimed the delighted Chairman while Liam Murphy gave the impression the result was never in doubt adding:  “We came good in the last ten minutes”. In the end it was that strong end that saw Bryansford over the line to claim their first ever Ladies Senior Football Championship crown.

Bryansford Squad was: Emma Joyce, Orla Murphy, Amy Nicholson, Clare Fitzpatrick, Kathryn Boden, Cora McKibben, Claren Owens, Clara Fitzpatrick, Sinead Murphy, Grainne McClean, Katie Ward (joint captain), Ciara O Higgins, Caitlin McCartan, Natasha Ferris (joint captain), Sonya McGraw, Adele McGrattan, Shannon Kelly, Amy O Higgins, Kirsty Fitzpatrick, Mariead Kavanagh, Ciara Ward, Shona Poland.