DLGFA Junior Championship Final
Man O’ War 1-10
By Daire Walsh
MAN O’War recorded an historic triumph in the Dublin Junior ‘A’ Ladies Football Championship final at Lawless Park on Saturday.
Thanks in no small part to the scoring prowess of Lisa Prout and Megan McAuley – as well as the strong leadership of team captain Dearbhla Sheridan – they were crowned champions at this grade for the very first time.
Having lost the 2013 final to Croi Ro Naofa, this was a sweet victory for Man O’War as they held off their north county rivals who matched them for large spells.
But final-quarter contributions from Sheridan and Adrienne Moore ensured that they got over the line in a dramatic finale, getting one over a side who had beaten them 2-11 to 0-10 in the group stages.
Although O’Dwyers deployed skipper Erica Byrne as a sweeper inside their own defence, it was her opposite number – Man O’War inside forward McAuley – who broke the deadlock with an early point.
The lead was doubled courtesy of Prout’s 25-metre free, before O’Dwyer’s opened their account through full-forward Shauna O’Hara.
Man O War, capitalising on impressive build-up play by Moore, saw Laura Brown curl between the posts in clinical fashion. They created a number of opportunities as the play progressed, but a series of wides consequently handed the initiative back to their Balbriggan rivals.
Supplementing an earlier O’Hara free, midfielder Aoife Curran found the target on 17 minutes to bring her side back level. Another Prout free got Man O’War back on track, until O’Dwyer’s responded with a devastating scoring blitz.
O’Hara turned over the Man O’War defence inside their own 45 and quickly released the unmarked Katie McCabe who coolly slotted home into the bottom right corner.
This gave O’Dwyer’s the perfect platform with the interval approaching but Man O’War dug deep.
Prout plucked a cross-field delivery close to the end line and picked out McAuley for a smooth finish beyond the reach of netminder Niamh Kirby. Prout then added her first point from play – ensuring the sides were tied at 1-5 apiece.
The sin-binning of half-forward Sarah Doran left Man O’War hamstrung on the resumption. However, they held firm in her absence as Prout raised white flags either side of another O’Hara effort for O’Dwyers.
Before Doran re-entered the fray, Prout moved Man O’War a step closer to the prize with her sixth point. There was plenty of time for O’Dwyer’s to regain control, though, and influential wing-back Amy Gibbons was on hand to kick a superb score in the 42nd-minute.
Man O’War continued to take the game to their north county rivals – who breathed a sigh of relief as the previously imperious Prout was twice off-target in quick succession. Yet, they continued their relentless search for scores and Sheridan rounded off a fast-paced attack with an excellent point.
Moore assumed free-taking duties from Prout for a tricky long-distance drive on 54 minutes, brilliantly dissecting the posts for a three-point cushion.
O’Dwyers persevered, of course, and Byrne drove forward for a fine point. She also dragged a fierce strike agonisingly past the left-hand post in stoppage-time.
But Man O War came through a sticky spell to ultimately seal a magnificent success and a first title at this level.