NIWFA Division Two final
St Oliver Plunkett 2-1 Camlough Rovers
St Oliver Plunkett caused a cup upset by defeating Division Two champions Camlough Rovers 2-1 in an entertaining game at the Blanchflower Stadium to lift the divisional League Cup on Monday night.
A first half double from Chelsea Edwards sealed the win for Gerard Crossley side, despite Olivia Connolly briefly equalising for Camlough, who peppered the Plunkett goal in the second period but to no avail, as the West Belfast outfit held on for a famous win.
With Camlough having won both of the previous league encounters between the two sides by an aggregate score of 16-5 it was no surprise that the Newry side created the majority of the chances in the early stages of the game.
Olivia Connolly almost opened the scoring with just five minutes on the clock. She raced onto a through ball from Brianna Mathers and rounded the goalkeeper, before seeing her poked effort bounce off the post and roll away.
The lively striker had another opportunity moments later, but her lofted effort from inside the area landed wide of the far post. Moya Feehan then found space on the right-hand side of the box and fired into the side netting as Camlough continued to dominate.
They would rue those missed chances when Edwards guided home Caoimhe McTasney’s inviting corner to put Plunkett ahead on 12 minutes, against the run of play.
Their lead would last just two minutes however, with Connolly producing a sumptuous finish to haul Camlough level. Ellen McCartney slipped the ball through to her and Connolly did the rest, firing home into the far corner from a narrow angle.
Chances continued to fall for both sides in a frantic opening quarter of an hour, with McTasney calling Laura Cinnamond into action, with the goalkeeper saving her curling free kick from range. At the other end, Connolly bent an effort wide from inside the box.
Connolly continued to cause problems for the Plunkett defence with her direct running into the box. She almost turned provider for Leanne Domican when she delivered a fizzing cross to the midfielder, who failed to hit the target from the edge of the box.
Naoise Clarke then produced a huge save on 34 minutes to deny McCartney’s low effort from close range.
Edwards restored Plunkett’s lead four minutes before the break, again arguably against the run of play. Her looping free kick from 25 yards was too powerful for goalkeeper Cinnamond, who could only push the ball into the top corner.
The second half brought an onslaught from Camlough, but a terrific performance from Clarke and her back four ensured Plunkett were able to withstand the immense pressure they faced.
NIWFA DIVISION 2 LEAGUE CUP CHAMPIONS 🏆— St Oliver Plunkett FC (@SOPFC69) August 29, 2022
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Some wasteful finishing from Camlough aided Plunkett’s cause, with McCartney guilty of spurning a glorious opportunity to level proceedings on 53 minutes.
Domican slid the ball across to McCartney, who got to it ahead of the hesitant Clarke, but she was unable to sort her feet out as she dragged a low effort wide with the goal gaping.
Chloe Friary then attempted to lob the ball over the onrushing Clarke two minutes later, but the goalkeeper was equal to the effort and pushed it away from danger.
Plunkett’s resolute defending restricted Camlough to efforts from range in the final 20 minutes of the game, with a rasping strike from Feehan whistling just past the far post, with Clarke beaten.
The goalkeeper was called into action again on 73 minutes as she tipped a thunderous free kick from Danni Jennings behind.
Clarke, who was awarded the player of the match, once again came to Plunkett’s rescue in the 77th minute as she did well to narrow the angle for Domican, who could only find the side netting after being played through by Feehan.
Edwards had a late chance to net her hat-trick and seal the win when she stepped up to take a free kick on 87 minutes, but the midfielder’s looping effort failed to trouble Cinnamond.
Plunkett saw out the remainder of the game with a mature defensive performance to spark jubilant scenes at the final whistle as they clinched the trophy against all the odds.