St Fanchea's 4-11 St Mary's Downpatrick 2-12 (aet)

St. Fanchea’s were crowned Ulster U16 champions after they came out on top in an enthralling encounter against St. Mary’s, Downpatrick on Monday. Having been beaten in two finals in recent years, the team showed great resilience to come back and make it third time lucky to make history for their school.

Full time could not separate the sides, with the Enniskillen girls pulling away in extra time to win on a scoreline of 4-11 to 2-12.

It could have been heartbreak for St. Fanchea’s if it was not for a Shanna Cassidy point with the last kick of the game forcing extra-time.

St. Fanchea’s manager Rory Grugan praised his team for their dedication throughout the year.

“I am absolutely delighted for the girls today to see all their hard work from September come to fruition. They have been beaten in finals in recent years but showed massive heart to fight back and take the game to extra time and eventually hold on to win. They represented their school, club and families with distinction and I am very proud of them.”

St. Fanchea’s dominated the first half, using the gale force wind to their advantage. Centre half forward Eimear McMahon, who top scored in the game with 2-05, displayed unerring accuracy.

Player of the Match, Shanna Cassidy, continually drove into the heart of the opposition defence. Despite having been camped in their half for a large majority of the opening period, Downpatrick fought hard and managed a goal against the run of play to keep themselves within touching distance at half time as St. Fanchea’s led by six points, 1-08 to 1-02.

The second period was completely dominated by the Down side who eventually drew level with less than 10 minutes remaining. With five minutes left, a long free into the box ended up in the St. Fanchea’s net to put St. Mary’s in front.

Having not scored in the second half, it was Blaithin McAleer and Sarah Jane Jones who drove the team forward with time almost up to set up a wonderful equalising goal for the team captain, Megan Maguire.

St. Mary’s went a point up again as the game entered stoppage time, but St. Fanchea’s were not to be denied as Shanna Cassidy broke through to equalise with the last kick of the game as it finished 2-09 apiece at full time.

St. Fanchea’s once again had wind advantage during the first half of extra time and made great use of it to score two goals and open up a six-point lead at half time. It was a case of backs to the wall again in the second half, and St. Fanchea’s defended brilliantly with the tireless work rate of their half backs Rhianna McElhill and Emer Keaney, and half forwards Sinead Barrett and Beth McGowan. Having played 80 minutes of football the players from both teams were out on their feet, with a good impact being made from the whole St. Fanchea’s squad.

St. Mary’s side were unable to find the goals they needed to bring them back into the game as St. Fanchea’s were crowned Ulster champions.