They missed the chance to lift the title first time round, but a five-star performance saw East End United’s women’s team finally get their hands on the Division One title.
The Bennettsbridge side were forced into a play-off after long-time rivals Tullaroan reeled them in on the last day of the season - United made sure there was no such mistake second time round with a powerful performance at Derdimus on Sunday.
The performances of a number of players were key to their success, none less than Sinead Whelan.
The teenager played a starring role, using her pace to devastating effect. Whelan constantly tormented the Tullaroan defence, creating numerous chances for her side all afternoon.
It was far from a one-woman show though, as many players who were on song for United all afternoon.
Quickly into top gear East End went on the attack from kick-off but Jenny Reddy spurned a chance to nab a goal inside 60 seconds. Winning possession on the right side of the box the back of the net beckoned for the unmarked Reddy, but she fired her point-blank shot straight at Tullaroan netminder Jennifer Russell.
East End kept looking for that lead goal, going closer again on 22 minutes. This time Jenny Brennan fired in a corner, a wicked effort which picked out the incoming Niamh Bolger, but Tullaroan were saved when her powerful header was booted off the line by Joanne Walsh, who was guarding the back post.
The Bennettsbridge side kept on the attack and got their reward after half an hour. Racing on to Laura Dooley’s pass down the right wing, Sinead Whelan sped past her marker and drilled in a low ball from the end line.
The speedy delivery was beyond the outstretched boot of Reddy - but not Jenny Brennan, who calmly side-footed home at the back post.
Stirred into action, Tullaroan hit back. Making a good break from midfield, Trish Mullally tried to get into the box but found play nicked from her possession. The loose ball fell kindly for Jemma Komar, but the United defence worked hard to shut her out.
Although they did well to protect their delicate lead, East End knew a second goal before half-time would strengthen their hand. They went in search of a way to double their advantage, but they really hit the jackpot with a late flurry before half-time.
The busy Dooley got the second, stealing in at the back to meet Brennan’s 45th minute corner with a clipped half-volley.
Better was to follow as, in injury-time, East End made it 3-0. Once Tullaroan were split open by Dooley’s through ball, Nicola Foley did the rest.
Jinking between two defenders, she controlled the ball and aimed a low shot inside the left post.
Jennifer Russell did well to dive to her right and get her hand behind the ball, but she couldn’t stop it from sneaking over the line.
Tullaroan needed to make a good start to the second half if they had any hopes of getting back into the game. However, with Niamh Bolger leading a tight defence they couldn’t catch a break.
Instead, it was East End who plundered two more goals in quicksmart fashion to seal the spoils.
Jenny Reddy made it 4-0 on the hour, collecting Jenny Brennan’s threaded pass before slipping a low shot under the advancing Russell.
The final say went to Whelan, who got the goal her performance deserved with 22 minutes to play. Set up by a good pass from Dooley, Whelan ran on to the ball put into her path and made no mistake.
East End United: Vivienne Holmes, Aine Lannon, Laura Walpole, Niamh Bolger, Aisling O’Grady (Holly Brennan, 73 mins), Caoimhe Shiel, Jenny Reddy (Nessa Griffin, 78 mins), Laura Dooley, Jenny Brennan (Rachel O’Carroll, 74 mins), Sinead Whelan (Zara Brennan, 74 mins), Nicola Foley (Ria Lawson, 59 mins).
Tullaroan: Jennifer Russell, Joanne Walsh, Laura Carroll (Maggie O’Dea, 46 mins), Edel Harding, Ann-Marie O’Neill, Rachel Lynch, Trish Mullally (Sinead Burke, 46 mins), Irene Guilfoyle, Breda O’Neill, Orla McCormack, Jemma Komar.
Referee: James Nolan. Linesmen: Eamon Holohan, Larry Buggy.
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