St Anthonys 6-7
Dulwich Harps 3-6
By Damian Dolan
At McGovern Park, Ruislip
Joy for St Anthony’s and heartbreak for Dulwich Harps, as the Reading club end its nine-year wait for junior title success amidst a goal-fest at Ruislip.
A brilliant second half display into the wind paved the way for Anthony’s victory, with the outstanding Edel McManus claiming a hat-trick.
It was a second half performance which won the approval of RTE’s Marty Morrissey – in London with Clare Masters – who popped into the Anthony’s dressing room to offer his personal congratulations.
Not too far behind McManus was Aoife Greene who finished two goals, but Anthony’s had stand-out performers all over the pitch.
The destination of the title, however, was very much in the balance at half-time, with Anthony’s leading by just three having had first use of the breeze.
Anthony’s had held an eight-point lead at one stage only to see it whittled away, as Dulwich somehow picked themselves off the canvas and dragged themselves back into the game. It was a herculean effort.
But Dulwich couldn’t utilise the wind to similar effect in the second half, and the Reading side’s ability to find the net proved the difference.
For Dulwich, it was their fourth consecutive defeat in this final, and one had to feel for them.
For Anthony’s, a first junior title since winning the competition in their debut year in 2010.
Tony Stafford couldn’t have asked any more of his Dulwich players – this was just Anthony’s day. But Dulwich must wonder when it will be their turn.
Throw in at Ruislip was preceded by a minute’s silence in memory of former London ladies president Joe Fryday and Dulwich Harps player Siobhan McCann.
It was particularly poignant as Siobhan had played in this fixture last year, just two months after being diagnosed with the cancer which would tragically take her young life last month.
Inspired by McManus, Anthony’s opened up a 0-3 to 0-1 lead, before Maeve Wyle’s free caused havoc in the Reading side’s goalmouth and Rachel Cooney found the net. That lit the blue touch paper.
McManus got the first of her three goals when her free caught the wind and nestled in the top corner of Tara Kilcoyne’s net.
Aoife Greene followed that with a screamer for goal number two, with McManus’ effort from distance giving Anthony’s a third goal in a devastating six-minute spell
The Reading side led by 3-3 to 1-1 and we’d played 15 minutes.
Haunted by finals past, Dulwich could easily have curled up into a ball and waved the white flat. But they didn’t. They rolled up their sleeves and began the fight-back, chipping away at the gap.
On the stroke of half-time Tineke Dalton’s ball in was collected by Aisling Chonaire, who teed up Aine Martin to goal. That cut the Anthony’s lead to 3-4 to 2-4 at the break.
Maeve Wylie’s early second half free reduced it further, but Dulwich would struggle to stop Anthony’s working the ball down field. At times, it was Harps pinned in their own half, despite having the wind.
McManus’ second goal in the 40th minute had the lead back up to seven points (4-6 to 2-5) and this time Anthony’s wouldn’t allow Harps back into it.
Leah Wilson denied Dalton, but not to be outdone, Kilcoyne turned away McManus’ effort.
With eight minutes to go, Anthony’s settled matters with two goals in less than 60 seconds, from Sarah Landy and McManus.
The latter’s shot, to complete her hat-trick hit the far post before ricocheting to the net via the unfortunate Kilcoyne. When that happens, you know it’s not your day.
Wylie pulled one back, but it was only a consolation.
St Anthony’s: Leah Wilson; Lauren Foster, Clara Canavan, Mary Foster; Katie O’Brien, Ciara Corrigan, Niamh Brandon; Annette Thomas, Isabel Delaney; Aisling Ni Shiochain; Aoife Greene (2-2), Edel McManus (3-5, 1-3f); Alison Gaynor, Aoife Healy, Keira Maher. Subs: Sarah Landy (1-0) for Gaynor, Edel McGovern for Healy, Sarah Flynn for Delaney, Amy Downes for Curran.
Dulwich Harps: Tara Kilcoyne; Eimear Dillon, Alice Farrelly, Catherine Keville; Carol O’Connor, Helen McGurrin, Emma Bolger; Ciara Doyle (0-1f), Tracy O’Hara (0-1), Maeve Wylie (1-2, 1-1f), Aine Martin (1-0), Tineke Dalton (0-2); Aisling Chonaire, Rachel Cooney (1-0), Clare Geoghan. Subs: Leona McCarthy for Chonaire, Edel Neary for Cooney, Anna Doherty for Geoghan, Julia Hinds for Bolger.
Referee: Evan Byrne.