An incredible season of success came to a close with a fairy-tale ending for the women of East End United.
Having already secured Shield and league crowns, the Bennettsbridge side confirmed their title as queens of Kilkenny soccer when they lifted the Cup to complete the treble.
After a tense first half, two moments of magic in a seven-minute spell did the trick for Davy Foley’s champions against Tullaroan at Derdimus on Sunday.
United captain Jenny Brennan did the damage for her side, lashing home a free-kick on the hour. While Jenny Reddy was fouled on the right corner of the box Brennan did the rest, hammering an unstoppable shot to the left of the three-woman wall and beyond the reach of Tullaroan netminder Jennifer Russell.
Weight off shoulders
The ball hitting the net was greeted as if a weight had been lifted off the East End players’ shoulders. Suddenly free of the pressure, they strode on for more.
Sent on her way by a great ball from Laura Dooley, Brennan burst into the box but couldn’t beat Russell, who pushed her 61st minute shot out. The rebound fell to Nicola Foley, but she couldn’t keep her shot on target.
Undeterred, East End increased their efforts and doubled their lead with 66 minutes on the clock. Once again Dooley was the architect, threading a midfield ball through for Reddy to chase. Reddy did well to hold off Irene Guilfoyle’s challenge, then even better to poke a low shot beyond Russell.
Those two quickfire goals sealed a game where both sides started a little cagily.
East End were first into action with a Jenny Brennan free, but while her sixth minute effort beat the wall she couldn’t get it past Jennifer Russell.
Control and pace
It didn’t take Tullaroan long to respond. Breda O’Neill showed why she was such a danger when her control and pace took her on a powerful run, but Viv Holmes did well to get down and block the shot.
Defences were on top for the remainder of the half. Tullaroan found it tough to get past an East End backline led by Niamh Bolger, while Olivia Nolan helped shore Tullaroan’s ranks after the loss of Ann-Marie O’Neill to injury.
East End did go on a late rally however, but couldn’t convert two late opportunities. Sinead Whelan looked certain to score when played through but she delayed her 43rd minute shot, giving Russell time to leave her line and smother the ball.
Jenny Reddy went closer still in the final seconds of normal time, shrugging off her marker before clipping a low ball towards the corner of the net, but again Russell got down to push the shot round the post.
East End made amends in the second half, punishing their opponents with that quick one-two. After that, they held firm and shut Tullaroan out before closing the game out and completing their very successful season.
East End United: Vivienne Holmes, Laura Walpole (Holly Brennan, 90 mins), Nicola Foley (Rachel O’Carroll, 80 mins), Niamh Bolger, Aisling O’Grady, Caoimhe Shiel, Laura Dooley, Jenny Brennan, Ria Lawson, Sinead Whelan, Jenny Reddy.
Tullaroan: Jennifer Russell, Joanne Walsh, Orla McCormack, Edel Harding, Ann-Marie O’Neill (Maggie O’Dea, 26 mins), Rachel Lynch, Sinead Burke (Trish Mullally, 69 mins), Irene Guilfoyle, Breda O’Neill, Olivia Nolan, Jemma Komar.
Officials: Vinny Kiely, Ollie Falsey, James Nolan.