The Claddagh Ring London Senior Cup
Fulham Irish 1-8
By David Hennessy, at Irish TV Grounds, Ruislip
Fulham Irish claimed an important victory in Ruislip in Sunday, beating Parnells, so dominant on the London Ladies scene for years, to their first ever London Senior Championship by a score of 1-8 to 1-5.
Parnells had won 10 of the last 15 London championships with only Fr Murphy’s being able to break their dominance with victories in 2001, 2007, 2008 and 2009. Fulham Irish are relative newcomers, only established since 2006 which makes their progress even more impressive.
Mary Alice McGuire scored the goal that put Fulham in control early on. Although the match was always close, Fulham led from early on to the final whistle. With just three points in it near the end, Fulham had to weather the storm as Parnells pressed and pressed but Fulham held firm. Outstanding performers were Rhona Newell, Jess Edwards, Lorraine Power, Bonnie Fleming and Roisin McDonald but it was the overall team effort that took them to glory.
Lorcan Mulvey, manager of Fulham Ladies and captain of the club’s male team, said after the match: “The girls really stood up to it today and it was a massive game. It was a good game as well, I’m just delighted I came out on the right side of it.
“Parnells have been setting the benchmark for everybody. I do think the gap is closing now, maybe it’s still not fully closed but I think this is definitely a step in the right direction and hopefully other teams can take a bit of note out of our books and follow on make the senior championship a real competitive championship next year.
“We had beaten them in the league a couple of weeks ago and I think that was playing on the girls’ minds, getting the first win over them and now they have grown a bit in confidence. Their ability is definitely there, I suppose it was just getting their heads right and believing they can win these games. Hopefully it’s shown today.”
Fulham were the first to open their account with Mary Alice McGuire finding Bonnie Fleming for a good point. Mary Alice would then put her team firmly in the driving seat early on when she unleashed a fine strike that found the back of the net. Hit towards the far corner and dipping, it was not anything Maria King in the Parnells goal would be able to deal with.
Sandra Byrne in the Fulham goal would have to save well from Ciara Dempsey while Shauna Munnelly followed up to put her under pressure.
Elena Hackett would get Parnells on the score sheet with her point. Although Fulham looked in control, Parnells were showing how dangerous they could be when they got on the attack, reminding Fulham they had to alert.
Fulham stretched their lead to four points on ten minutes when Bonnie Fleming supplied Lorraine Power for a well worked score that Jess Edwards was involved in.
Bonnie Fleming would stretch Fulham’s advantage further when she received Rhona Newell’s pass and sent it over the bar for a good score.
Twenty minutes into the game, Fulham had a close call when Sinead McCooey launched an unstoppable run before laying off to Niamh Murphy. Elena Hackett received the ball and her effort looked to have brought Parnells right back into things but Fulham breathed a huge sigh of relief when her shot came back off the post and the danger was cleared.
Sinead Carroll pointed for Parnells approaching half-time. Only their second score of the match, the team in the blue were playing with more flair now and giving Fulham much to worry about.
There was no relief or post coming to Fulham’s rescue when Parnells’ Sinead McCooey next got on the ball. Always threatening, McCooey fired to the far corner of the net with her shot from distance to drop into the net. McCooey’s shot quite resembled McGuire’s from earlier on in the same game.
At just 1-3 to 1-2 in favour of Fulham, the deficit had been cut to just the bare minimum. How the South London team responded now was all important and Rhona Newell, who led by example all match, launched an unstoppable run before laying off to Roisin McDonald. Having drawn a foul, McDonald would point from the resulting free to give Fulham Irish a two point lead to take in to the break, 1-4 to 1-2.
Fulham began the second half in threatening form and Lorraine Power put her team three points into the lead with a great score, following an excellent take by Onora Mulachy in the Fulham midfield. Refusing to give an inch, Fulham won the ball from the following kick-out only to see Power’s effort fall into the goalkeeper’s hands.
Fulham stretched their advantage to four when Roisin McDonald converted a free, won after Fulham had impressively worked the ball up the field from defence.
Parnells continued to press and look very dangerous. Aine Gormley looked especially dangerous since coming off the bench and when Niamh Murphy found her team mate, Gormley made no mistake and brought the gap back to three with an excellent score.
Cathy O’Regan, only off the Fulham bench moments, pointed to take Fulham’s tally to 1-7 but this was quickly cancelled out by Elena Hackett once again, supplied this time by Ciara Dempsey.
At 1-7 to 1-4 halfway through the second half, things remained just a one score game and this meant Fulham could not rest on their laurels. Parnells were pressing and Fulham had to remain firm. However, when Parnells did come forward to try to create opportunities, they found Fulham backs defiantly blocking every route to goal.
Fulham came close to wrapping things up with three minutes to go when Bonnie Fleming collected Rhona Newell’s ball and shot for goal, only to see her effort come back off the crossbar. Things remained delicately balanced.
Parnells came once more and they knew they needed a goal. Ciara Dempsey found Sinead McCooey and the Parnells forward blasted towards goal only to see an excellent Sandra Byrne save. However, referee Beano Collins awarded the 21 yard free for a foul in front of goal. Parnells wanted a penalty and at just three points in it, this could have changed things.
With a forest of Fulham girls on the goal-line to prevent the score that would rob them of their hard earned victory, McCooey put the short range free over the bar.
Bonnie Fleming took the ball from Ciara Dempsey to supply Lorraine Power for the score that would be the game’s last score.
Fulham celebrated a hard fought but well deserved win at the final whistle, a win that makes them top of London’s footballing females. Parnells, who have so long been on top themselves, will know that 1-5 is not good enough and begrudge Fulham nothing.
Fulham Irish: Sandra Byrne, Anne Cooper, Emma Sayers, Ann Marie McDonald, Laura Comor, Rhona Newell, Laura Gilmore, Jess Edwards, Onora Mulcahy, Mary Alice McGuire (1-0), Lorraine Power (0-3), Aisling Parsons, Bonnie Fleming (0-2), Roisin McDonald (0-2, 2F), Laura Faulds. Subs: Cathy O’Regan (0-1) for Mulcahy, Helen Fenton for Newell, Aine Walsh for Fleming.
Parnells: Maria King, Roisin O’Grady, Pamela Sherwood, Sinead Darcy, Linda Corcoran, Sarah Quinn, Helen Stephens, Lauren Murray, Elena Hackett (0-2), Sinead McCooey (1-1, 1F), Ciara Dempsey, Sinead Carroll (0-1), Shauna Munnelly, Niamh Murphy, Bernie Durkan. Subs: Aine Gormley (0-1).