Lagan Harps players celebrate Saturday's fantastic win in Dublin
There were scenes of great celebration as Lagan Harps won the Women's FAI Under-12 Challenge Cup on Saturday in Dublin.
It was Lagan’s fifth FAI National Cup final and the class of 2019 followed in the footsteps of the club’s victorious senior squad of 2010 who won the FAI Intermediate Cup.
Back in 2014, Lagan also won the FAI Junior Cup. The U14 squad of 2012 were beaten finalists in the FAI U14 Challenge Cup, and the U18 squad of 2016 were beaten finalists in the FAI U18 Challenge Cup.
It was a fifth title of a highly-successful 2019 for this Lagan side, adding the Challenge Cup to the Donegal Women’s League, the Highland Bakery Cup, the Willie McLaughlin Ulster Cup and the FAI North West Region Challenge Cup.
Lagan have had their injury woes with as many as six players breaking bones during the season, but others stepped up to the plate.
Lagan knew they were in a very tough group going into the competition. All games were a tight affair with Lagan drawing their first game 0-0 against Cork’s Wilton Utd, with chances to score at a minimum.
Lagan's Orlaith Doherty is presented with her player of the match award following Saturday's final
Rock Celtic from Louth were next up, with Lagan dominating the game, the Rock Celtic keeper was having an amazing game pulling off at least eight saves. Ashling Mugan and Ellie McNeill hit the crossbar. However, with time running out Niamh Ryan’s through ball to Orlaith Doherty saw Lagan come out winners by the single goal - Doherty producing a brilliant finish.
Next up in the final group game was Dublin Champions, Cherry Orchard who had won their two previous games. Lagan had to win to progress.
Amy Doherty pulled off a top drawer save to keep Lagan in the game. Cherry Orchard were dangerous in attack. However, solid defending by Sorcha and Scarlet Keys and Aileen Sweeney kept them out. Two minutes into the second half Cherry Orchard scored from a corner.
However, Lagan remained composed, as they have done all season, and kept working hard. Sophie Canning set up Orlaith Doherty to level the game.
With two minutes remaining Ashling Mugan scored the winner.
The semi final saw Lagan take on the Wexford Champions Curraloe in another tight game, which ended 0-0 and went to dreaded penalties. Amy Doherty saved two penalties and Lagan won the game 3-2 on spot-kicks.
The final was against Cork Champions Lakewood Utd.
Lagan controlled the game with Rosie O’Donnell causing problems on the right with her pace. She slotted the ball to Orlaith Doherty who rounded the keeper to take an early lead.
Sine Harris Ryan could have extended the lead but her shot hit the post.
Sophie Canning and Ashling Mugan controlled midfield and were very disciplined holding, shielding and intercepting vital passes forward.
Niamh Ryan made a good tackle late in the second half to keep the Cork side at bay as Lagan were crowned All Ireland Champions.
Lagan’s Orlaith Doherty was selected Player of the Match.
Lagan Harps squad: Amy Doherty, Sorcha Keys, Scarlet Keys, Aileen Sweeney, Niamh Ryan, Ashling Mugan, Sophie Canning, Rosie O’Donnell, Ellie McNeill, Sine Harris Ryan, Orlaith Doherty, Kelsey Gallagher, Jessica McGinley, Ruth Cassidy, Amy Moore, Lisa Wilson, Tammy Gallagher. Coaches: John Canning, Benny Doherty, Brid McGinty
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