Challenging week for Mid Ulster Ladies

MID Ulster Ladies were back in action this week with a cup match against Glentoran and a league match against Crusaders Strikers.

First up was Glentoran Belfast Utd in the Euro Electrix League cup. With a place in the final for the winners the stakes were high. Glentoran knew their chances of league success were all but gone and their focus was very much on the cup.

They started the better of the two sides but for all their possession they had limited clear opportunities on goal.

As the game progressed Mid Ulster got more involved and it was disappointing then when Glentoran opened the scoring with Catherine O’Hagen scoring on 28 minutes. For the next few minutes it looked like the floodgates had been opened.

Nadine Caldwell hit the bar and on 32 minutes Cara Milligan scored a second for the visitors.

Somehow the home team managed to steady the ship and then set about their task of getting back into the game. Samantha Kelly had done sterling work on the left hand side of midfield but injury meant she had to withdraw from the game with Louise Murphy taking her place with 5 minutes to go to half time.

Stacey Lee made good work to get to the by line and fizz in a cross which Rebecca Edwards met at the back post to pull one back for Mid Ulster. Glentoran nearly responded immediately with an effort going off the top of the bar but as the half time whistle sounded the score stood at 2-1 to Glentoran.

Glentoran started the second half well and Mid Ulster had a lot of defending to do. The pressure was relentless and with 50minutes played another goal saw the scoreline read 3-1. Glentoran had their tails up now and the Mid Ulster girls were struggling to get hold of the ball. It was no real surprise when on 55 minutes the Glens extended their lead once again. Jacqueline Burns had a couple of good saves and a number of Mid Ulster substitutions were made but nothing could stop a rampant Glentoran who added two further goals before the final whistle sounded.

Final score Mid Ulster 1 Glentoran Belfast Utd 6

Team J Burns, L Richardson, C Rooney, C Brown, E McFarland (H Turkington), H O’Donnell, R Brown, (A Edwards), C Barnes, S Kelly ( L Murphy), S Lee, R Edwards.

Next up for the girls was the visit of Crusaders Strikers on Wednesday night.

Ruth Brown had an early shot on goal but it lacked the power to trouble the Strikers keeper.

Louise Murphy was also showing some good skill on the left wing but Mid Ulster were finding it difficult to break through the Strikers back line. Then two unfortunate moments left Mid Ulster with a mountain to climb.

The referee didn’t see what looked like a blatant foul on Claire Brown and as everyone else stopped Amy Burden for Strikers pounced to open the scoring. As if that sucker punch wasn’t enough a short back pass moments later meant Annie Timoney doubled the advantage for the visitors.

After this Mid Ulster tried to get back into the game Simone Magill and Hayley O’Donnell were linking up well with Stacey Lee but they just couldn’t find the final ball.

On 30 minutes however it looked like game over as a Nadine Murphy strike made it 3-0 to Strikers. Mid Ulster were not giving up just yet and just before the whistle Stacey Lee gave the home team hope with a tap in at the back post from a Simone Magill cross.

Strikers started the second half on the attack and it was no surprise when after 2 minutes they scored again this time Deborah McCarthy on the score sheet.

Mid Ulster still kept pressing but it was not going to be their night and when Nadine Murphy scored her second of the night it just heaped on the misery. Final score Mid Ulster 1 Crusaders Strikers 5

Team J Burns, C Brown, R Brown, E McFarland, M Stewart, L Richardson, M Scott (R Edwards), L Murphy (H Turkington), H O’Donnell, S Lee, S Magill

On a brighter note Mid Ulster Juniors travelled to Armagh on Saturday 4 August for the Armagh Boys & Girls Club Speers Cup 5 aside competition.

This was the first year of the tournament but it was superbly run and the girls were treated to a great day out. Apart from the bouncy castles, face painting, Olympic competitions and other entertainment there was a lot of football and Mid Ulster had two teams competing. The group stages saw both teams play 5 games each coming up against opposition from Linfield, Carnmoney, Fivemiletown, Moneyslane, Armagh, Lurgan, and Lisburn in these games.

The Mid Ulster Bees saw a number of debuts in Mid Ulster colours for girls that have come through Ruth Browns Score project work in the schools in the area.

This team was well under the age 11 limit and shows the great potential for the future. With Briget Quinn and Rebecca Cullen sharing the task of doing goals, Olivia Donnelly and Andrea Falls were the last line of defence whilst Lilie Cullen and Annie McKenna led the attack.

The girls competed well and were unlucky not to make it out of the group but they had the added bonus of seeing team member Andrea Falls win the penalty shoot out competition for the Under 11s.

The second Mid Ulster team saw an experienced line up with Megan Ferson in goals, Rachel Rodgers and Kirsten Henry next in line with Jessica Magee, Eimear McGarrity and Sophie Magee spearheading the attack.

The girls performed sensationally well winning all their group games and not conceding a goal. Jessica Magee scored an amazing 11 goals in the groups stages with Eimear McGarrity weighing in with 7. Rachel Rodgers had 2, Kirsten Henry 3 and Sophie Magee 1 with the entire team sharing the goal scoring and Megan Ferson keeping 5 clean sheets.

The drama however was yet to come as the girls took on Linfield in the semi final. With a little bit of tension creeping into the performance the girls were held 1-1 at the end of the game having taken an early lead through Eimear McGarrity.

The game was then to be settled by 3 penalties each or sudden death.

Linfield put the early pressure on with an unstoppable penalty. Rachel Rodgers took on the responsibility of going first and was so unlucky to see the ball come back off the post. Megan Ferson then produced a superb save before Eimear McGarrity levelled the score at 1-1. Linfield put their final penalty wide and then up stepped Jesscia Magee to bury her penalty and put the girls into the final.

After this drama the girls made the final against Moneyslane look like a walk in the park.

Eimear McGarrity scored a hat trick with Jessica Magee and Rachel Rodgers adding to the total for a comprehensive victory which saw the Mid Ulster girls lift the cup.