Annaghdown (Galway) 1-13
Shane O’Neills (Armagh) 3-5
By Jackie Cahill at Parnell Park, Dublin
Rachel King produced a scintillating attacking display as Galway outfit Annaghdown were crowned All-Ireland ladies intermediate club football champions at Parnell Park on Sunday.
In front of a bumper crowd, full-forward King scored 1-4 from play as Annaghdown overturned a five-point first half deficit to see off Armagh’s Shane O’Neill’s by two points.
Annaghdown were superb in the second half – outscoring their opponents by 1-8 to 1-2 – but Shane O’Neills were rocked by a yellow card for key midfielder Shauna Grey five minutes after the break.
And in the ten minutes that Grey was off the pitch, Annaghdown made hay by picking off 1-5 in that spell.
Armagh senior ace Aimee Mackin was scorer-in-chief for Shane O’Neills, collecting 2-4, but she also missed a number of chances as the runners-up racked up 14 wides (eight in the first half), compared to just five in total for Annaghdown.
Gráinne Barrett at centre forward and evergreen captain and player of the match Niamh Duggan, a 2004 All-Ireland senior medallist with Galway, were other big players for Annaghdown, with Nicola Burke another to impress.
Mackin was the ‘go-to’ player for Shane O’Neills but Annaghdown defended much better and from the front in the second half as the Westerners roared into contention.
Two stunning goals from Mackin in the seventh and 23rd minutes had Shane O’Neills firmly in control in the first half, however, and on course for a 2-3 to 0-5 interval lead.
Indeed, Annaghdown went 21 minutes without a score, as King’s tenth minute point was followed up by a Duggan free approaching half-time.
Mackin collected a long-range delivery from sister Blathín before ramming home her opening goal and the lethal inside forward profited from a defensive error for her second major.
Trailing by four points at the break, Annaghdown set about eating into that deficit and they were level at 0-9 to 2-3 within nine minutes of the restart.
Aimee Mackin edged Shane O’Neills back in front but following an equalising point from Duggan, King’s 43rd minute goal handed Annaghdown an advantage they would not relinquish.
Blaithín Mackin rammed home a fine goal with a minute left to revive hopes of a Shane O’Neills comeback but Annaghdown held on for history.
Scorers for Annaghdown: R King 1-4, G Barrett 0-4 (2f), N Burke & N Duggan (1f) 0-2 each, C McCarthy 0-1.
Scorers for Shane O’Neills: A Mackin 2-4 (0-1f), B Mackin 1-0, K Murphy 0-1.
ANNAGHDOWN: M.K. Killilea; J Burke, B Quinn, F Wynne; Chelsie Crowe, Chloe Crowe, T Keane; E Coyle, N Burke; N Duggan, G Barrett, A Scully; N Comer, R King, E Keane.
Subs: C McCarthy for Keane (h.t.), K Forde for Comer (44), R Naughton for Scully (54).
SHANE O’NEILLS: K Daly; K Murphy, E Kenny, C McMenamin; H McMenamin, L Kenny, C Sloan; S Grey, B Mackin; A McCoy, M Feehan, E Hannaway; A Jones, A Mackin, C Garvey.
Subs: J Watters for Murphy (41), S McDonnell for Hannaway (42).
Referee: S McNulty (Wicklow)