Release Date: 29/03/2013
IN conditions more reminiscent of a fixture at Christmas, Ballymena Allstars and Fermanagh Mallards battled through driving snow on Wednesday evening to decide who would be crowned NIWFA Under 17 Champions.
Despite the blizzard like conditions both teams settled quickly and produced some scintillating football with chances created at both ends early on. With the ball zipping off the 3G Moyola pitch both keepers had to be alert and quick off their lines to deal with any danger.
Great link up play between Erin Getty and Vicky Carleton for Ballymena saw them almost through on goal only to be thwarted by a superb block by Fermanagh’s Alice Hurst. The deadlock was finally broken on 20 minutes when Ballymena failed to clear Hurst’s free kick from just outside the 18 yard box which the ever busy Kate Carrothers slid into the goal past the Ballymena goalkeeper Courtney Downey.
Half-time: Ballymena Allstars 0-1 Fermanagh Mallards
Credit must go to the Moyola Park ground staff who worked tirelessly at half-time sweeping the lines to ensure the pitch remained playable.
The second half continued in much the same vein with both midfields working hard to thread that all important pass through to their respective forwards.
Ten minutes into the second half Allstars were finally rewarded for their persistence when a poor clearance from the Mallards defence was picked up by Getty and from 20 yards she thundered a shot past the helpless Fermanagh keeper. Ballymena could have doubled their lead minutes after but great defensive work and the goal post kept the Fermanagh dream alive.
Full time: Ballymena Allstars 1-1 Fermanagh Mallards
It must have been an awe inspiring speech from the Mallards coach just before the 10 minute period of extra time kicked off as his team emerged determined to go home with the silverware. After Fermanagh’s Meghan Thompson gave her team the lead it was followed just minutes later by a third from Fermanagh’s Lucy Barr. Ballymena never gave up the battle though and continued to create chances right until the final whistle.
Final score: Ballymena Allstars 1-3 Fermanagh Mallards (after extra time)
Both teams deserve an acknowledgement for playing the match in a great spirit despite the weather conditions, the ball was kept on the ground and the link up play was a joy to watch. The high standard these girls have set can only bode well for the future of the women’s game in Northern Ireland.
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