The U13 girls went into Friday nights game knowing a draw would be enough to finish the season as league champions. Their last game on the night was against Mid Ulster Ladies U13s at the Arena.
Lurgan also went into the game with Alex McILwaine and Maeve McConaghy carrying injuries but credit to both girls they were determined to play no matter what. In fact Maeve had been on crutches right up to the morning of the game.
The game started with Lurgan on the front foot and looking to get settled. In the early minutes they had some half chances to score. Eventually they were awarded an indirect free kick in the penalty area which Maeve laid the ball back for Alex to strike a sweet shot past the six player wall. The goal was a great boost for the team and they were controlling the game which Alex had 4 shots blocked in the space of 10 seconds. Maeve went close to getting Lurgan’s second and Katie Gilmore was closed down quickly as she went to shoot. Then Mid Ulster started to grow into the game with their central defender showing great ability in running with the ball through Lurgans midfield. This was putting pressure on Lurgans defence but for the majority of the time Nicole Owens, Chloe Stewart and Ellie Beattie stood firm. However, the first time the Mid Ulster player did get through she had a shot superbly saved by Jessica Pugh but unfortunately the rebound was tapped in. In fact Mid Ulster nearly took the lead but the shot just went wide. The remaining minutes of the first half Lurgan regrouped with Kaitlyn Irwin and Ellie McBride winning more tackles therefore breaking up play. The half ended all square at one goal each.
Lurgan made a change at half time by bringing on Amy Irwin to give Lurgan a naturally left footed player. Amy started the half well as she attacked Mid Ulster’s defence with skill and pace. The early part of the half was a bit frantic but Lurgans nerves settled when Maeve McConaghy scored to take the lead. From that moment on Lurgan raised their game with Katie Gilmore influential in their link up play. The third soon followed when superb play and commitment witnessed Amy Irwin dribble past a couple of players and win a tackle against the centre half which seen the ball fall to Katie who confidently scored past the keeper. Amy Irwin, Alex McILwaine and Ellie McBride almost increased Lurgans lead but it was fitting that the final goal was scored by top scorer Maeve as she received a great pass from Katie Gilmore. Lurgan brought on U11 players Erin Moore and Tilly Douglas for a few minutes to be part of the game.
The final whistle blew and the celebrations started as Lurgan were crowned NI Southern Girls League Premiership Champions for 2017-18. Every girl played with courage, desire and skill. The season has been long considering it’s been a very small squad.
A big congrats to Jessica, Nicole, Chloe, Ellie, Alex, Maeve, Ellie, Kaitlyn, Katie and Amy as those 10 girls have been the players to perform consistently week in week out. Also thanks to Erin and Tilly.
Coaches Phil McKinley and Gary Beattie expressed their joy at a great achievement by the players and a massive thanks to all the parents for their support throughout the season.
LEAGUE CHAMPIONS 💛🖤❤