On Friday evening of last week May 5th the semi-final was played in Ballyloughane in front of a good crowd. Kilconieran provided the opposition and all was going to script with early goals from Sinead Collins, Rachel Doherty and Ellen Burke. However as the game wore on the influence of Mariead Dillion and Cari Brien was seen to good effect with some good long range shooting they began to claw their way back into the game, and it was Mellows that were delighted to see the half time interval arrive.
Mellows began the second half brightly but found the scores more difficult to come by as Kilconieran continued to chip away at the lead, great defensive work from Stacy Hanly and Danielle Byrne stopped a certain goal. Roisin Hughes added another Mellows goal to but a bit more daylight between the teams to leave the final score Mellows 4-5 Kilconieran 1-9. The Club would like to extends our sympathies to Kilconieran player Sarah Dempsey on the death of her grandfather JJ Dempsey and it was a fine testament and tribute to him that she played the game that evening. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.
The Mellows wagon then rolled on to Craughwell on Sunday May 7th for the final on what was a beautiful day befitting a League Final! Mellows had overcome Salthill in the group stages but this was a much changed and improved Salthill team and they easily accounted for Sarsfields in the semi final. Sinead Collins opened the scoring with a Mellows point but the lead changed hands quickly first Evie Hayes, and the Sorcha Marnell raised white flags to give Salthill the lead. Ellen Burke levelled with a point from a free and then followed it up with a well worked goal following great work from Sinead Folan and a peach of a final pass from Sinead Collins. Both teams traded points and on twenty five minutes Mellows were awarded a free 25 metres out. Rosin Hughes stood over the free and most people in the large crowd expected her to tap it over but Roisin had other ideas and her well struck shot flew through a wall of players to the back of the Salthill net. That score gave Mellows a nice cushion going in at half time 2-3 to 0-5 in front.
From the start of the second half Salthill piled on the pressure but were finding the scores from play hard to come by but they were keeping the scoreboard ticking over and clawing their way back into the game. Orla Callanan, Siobhan Divilly and Doireann Mhurri were at the heart of all things good for Salthill. The game was on a knife edge at this stage and the tackling, hooking and blocking was of the highest order. As time ticked on further scores were traded but then Salthill struck for a goal to put three points between the teams. Jennifer Burke added a Mellows point to cut the deficit to two as the game headed towards injury time. Mellows continued to press but Salthill held firm. A Roisin Hughes free was lobbed in around the danger area but was cleared. The clearance fell to Ellen Burke and she attacked with power and pace, she drew the free and with one minuet remaining and two points between the teams she stood over the free with goal on her hind. Her shot was saved by the Salthill goalie but the rebound was met by the in rushing Emma Elwood to score a dramatic goal and give Mellows a one point lead. Aoife Mc Peake won the puck out and when she found Jennifer Burke who was about to set off on her trade mark solo runs the final whistle sounded for Mellows to record a famous if somewhat lucky victory right at the death. This was a real team performance Danielle Byrne in goals brought off some great saves.
The fullback line of Sarah Gallagher, Stacy Hanley and Claire Minton stood firm. In front of them Abbie Fox Carr hurled with skill and intelligence and was ably assisted by Aoife Mc Peake and Michelle Hourigan. Midfield was a real battle and Becky Anderson and Roisin Hughes covered every inch of the Craughwell pitch for the Mellows cause. Sinead Folan was forced to leave the field with an injury but not before she has contributed greatly to the Mellows cause. Her half forward partners Jennifer Burke and Rachel Doherty worked tirelessly while the inside forward line of Aoife Elwood, Sinead Collins and Ellen Burke were a scoring threat. Emma Elwood's dramatic goal was crucial and numerous contributions throughout the campaign came from Laoise Mc Donnell, Nicole Sylver, Ellen Ralph, Sinead Collins, Laura O Brien and Alison Heaney and testifies to the strength and depth of this fantastic squad of Players! This is the second Cup inside six months for this panel and with a slight break before the Championship starts in July Mellows will be hoping they can go one better this year and win the County Final and retain their Connacht Title.
The Players and Management would like to wish Sinead Folan a speedy recovery from her injuries.
John Burke | Bainisteoir