Fermanagh visited the Sports arena on Wednesday night for the third game in the NIWFA Premier League, the Erne county team proving no match for their hosts as Samantha Kelly claimed the glory with all four goals.
Mid-Ulster were delighted to welcome Claire Brown back onto the team for this one. After claiming interprovincial success at hockey, she was hoping to maintain her winning ways back on the football pitch.
Mid-Ulster started well against a youthful Fermanagh team. The Mid-Ulster girls were enjoying the majority of the possession and knocking the ball around the back comfortably. Emma McFarland and Hannah Turkington were causing lots of problems down the right wing but a couple of great crosses went a begging as no Mid-Ulster player could connect with them.
Chances were starting to come for the home team but the Fermanagh keeper was having an inspired performance. First she denied Chloe Barnes from a McFarland ball and then another great ball through from Lisa Richardson.
The game, however, was not all one-way and on the break Fermanagh were shown to be a danger and Jacqueline Burns had to be alert to gather one such break and shot. A period of Fermanagh pressure saw the visitors win a corner and Burns cleared the in swinger with a super punch.
More Mid-Ulster pressure followed with Samantha Kelly and Brown both going close but it was Fermanagh who ended the half on the front foot with a last minute corner although nothing was to come of it.
Mid-Ulster began the second half on the front foot and after good work by Brown, the resultant Kelly shot went just over. Once again the Fermanagh goalkeeper was a busy lady as she blocked a Turkington shot and, as the home crowd held their collective breath, the rebound went wide off the post.
The pressure was building on the Fermanagh goal and Kelly was causing a real threat. Another great through ball saw the Fermanagh keeper come out to clear her lines. Unfortunately for her, she gathered the ball outside the box and, as the last defender, she received a straight red card as well as conceding the free-kick - an unlucky end to the game to a player who had done so well up to that point.
Mid-Ulster couldn’t find a way through from the free kick with the replacement keeper also demonstrating good hands. Mid-Ulster kept up the pressure and with the extra man spaces were starting to appear.
Kelly final broke the deadlock on 22 minutes after a great ball through from Claire Rooney and the home crowd went wild. Barnes was replaced by Lyn Sommerville and talk about an impact substitution.
A great burst down the right by Somerville and a dangerous cross saw Kelly take the ball in the box and finish after a great first touch. The game was effectively over as a contest and a further substitution saw Chloe Boden replace Brown.
Mid-Ulster maintained the pressure, with Turkington going close again before Kelly racked up her hat-trick with a great individual effort on 33 minutes.
Rachel Kelly then replaced Aoife Curran but, even with the changes, the Mid-Ulster performance was still maintained.
On 38 minutes Lisa Richardson played a great ball through and once again Samantha Kelly was on hand to provide the finishing touch.
With the clock running down the crowd were treated to some silky skills from Rooney and great individual work from Chloe McCarron before Rachel Kelly won a last minute free on the edge of the box.
The Fermanagh keeper spoiled the fairy tale ending making a good save from captain Rooney’s free-kick but, all in all, it was a great result for the Mid-Ulster girls.
Team: J Burns, C Rooney, C Brown (C Bowden), L Richardson, E McFarland, C McCarron, A Curran (R Kelly), L Murphy, H Turkington, S Kelly, C Barnes (L Sommerville). Sub not used: D Bloomer