In their last home match of the 2019 season on Wednesday evening, Lurgan Town Ladies came from behind against Downpatrick Ladies, to record their 13th league win. With the title already secure, some starting players from Monday’s match made way for their team-mates.

Lurgan had plenty of early chances, but none of the early shots from Kerry Taggart, Louise O’Neill and Amy McAllister troubled the Downpatrick keeper. There was a nervous moment at the other end, when Lurgan keeper Megan McCabe came out of her box and lost the ball, but she scrambled back in time to recover. After 20 minutes, a Downpatrick corner was deflected into goal by the Lurgan defence, and the home side went behind for only the second time this season. A few minutes later, Downpatrick were on the attack again, but Lurgan defended well and KT drove forward in a counterattack, but shot wide in the end. Downpatrick got another corner, when a slippy ball was palmed behind by Megan, but this time, the ball was cleared safely away. Captain Tracy Orr took a free kick from just outside the box on 27 minutes, but it went just over. A few minutes later, Amy got the equaliser when her looping shot from distance went over the keeper and dipped under the bar for 1-1. Further chances came from more free kicks, but the keeper caught those that were on target. Then Amy made a run and when the keeper could only palm away her shot, Rachel Davis got to the loose ball, but Downpatrick defended well to finish the half level with the Champions.

Early in the second half, KT caught the substitute Downpatrick keeper out at the edge of her box, and was able to cross to Rachel who knocked it in to take Lurgan 2-1 up. A fine strike by Amy was caught by the keeper, but she then put Rachel through, who placed her shot past the keeper and in off the post for 3-1. Nicola Gray’s cross almost set Rachel up for a hat-trick, but she couldn’t quite get her head on it this time. Nicola then had a strike on the half-volley, but it went just over the bar. Downpatrick were still attacking, though, and with about 25 minutes to go, they had a shot off the top of the crossbar. But Lurgan pulled further ahead when a KT header was half-cleared, only to be headed in by substitute Magda Stepien for her first league goal, making it 4-1. 10 minutes later, Mags almost flicked in a cross from Elisha Donnelly, but the keeper managed to save. KT then came off injured, leaving Lurgan down to 10 players for the last 10 minutes. A great strike from Downpatrick pulled one back for the visitors. Amy had a shot curling into the bottom corner, but the keeper got a hand down to it, so the final score stayed at 4-2.

Congratulations to referee’s POTM Louise O’Neill, and thank you to our match sponsors at Comco Plastics.
Our last league game of the season is away to Killen Rangers next Wednesday. All travelling support welcome!

Electric Ireland manager Clare McAllister (with help from Colette Young as NIWFA Secretary) presented the Lurgan Town Ladies with the NIWFA Championship Cup after the match.

It has been quite a roller-coaster for the Lurgan team, who had to rebuild following a disappointing first season in the Championship division last year, which almost resulted in relegation. New managers Ryan McConville and James Feehan saw the potential of the core squad, and with help from last year’s coaches, Gary Donaldson and Ivan Black, they have guided the team to the Champions’ spot.

Naturally, captain Tracy Orr is delighted. “I am immensely proud of our team this year – to be Championship League winners and to get to two cup finals has been remarkable. There is a great buzz about the club now, and with the younger girls coming through from the Academy to add to the existing talent, I’m excited to see what the future holds for Lurgan Town Ladies.”

Team: M McCabe, C Rooney, T Orr, L O’Neill, A McAllister, K Taggart, R Bolger, R Davis, T Maguire, L Domican, N Gray. Subs: E Donnelly, D Brady, M Stepien (all used), D Douglas, H Hughes

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