Five-star O’Leary shines for Mark’s in U16 final

By Hayden Moore

A 5-3 SALVO by Aoife O’Leary inspired St Mark’s to glory in the Under 16 Division Five Championship Final as they downed a dogged Crumlin side by 5-6 to 1-8 in Kiltipper on Sunday.

The combination work of Stephie Nwakor sweeping out from the back, half-back Abbigail Williams doing the hard yards and O’Leary slotting home proved to be the downfall of the Crumlin side.

St Marks U16 Div5 Championship Final celebration compressor

St Mark’s U16 footballers celebrate their victory on Sunday

O’Leary, wearing number nine but playing in a more advanced position, knocked over the first score of the game for the Springfield outfit while Ella Stacey’s effort from distance crept over down the other end.

It took eight minutes for O’Leary to find the net after combining with eventual Player of the Match Williams, and she rattled it again just moments later in a similar move.

Adding to her points tally, O’Leary kicked two sweet points after cutting in from the left wing following on from some powerful running by Jessie Oigbochie with corner-forward Caitlin Carwood also clipping over a free.

But Crumlin fought back with winger Rebecca Horan and Alannah Thorpe splitting the posts and they goaled after Alanna Hodgins put a long speculative ball into the box, with full-forward Alex Hodgins turning her marker and blasting to the net.

Closing out her hattrick of points and goals, the tenacious O’Leary powered through from midfield to bury the ball into the bottom left corner beyond Crumlin ‘keeper Hannah Murray to bring Mark’s into a 3-4 to 1-5 half-time lead.

After the interval, captain Williams caused even more havoc with her direct running and it paid in dividends with her opening the scoring of the half after mazing her way towards goal unchallenged and firing over.

There was a lull in scoring over the next 10-minutes but the action never stopped as Crumlin peppered the Mark’s backline.

Crumlin piled on the pressure as Horan and Emma Creighton had chances to convert that were snuffed out by the solid hold-up play of the resilient Mark’s full-back Nwakor.

Crumlin U16 Div5 Championship Final squad Photo by Paddy Gough compressor

Crumlin U16s put up a brave performance in the final

Pinned into their own defence, Mark’s shot-stopper Lauren Benam cleared her lines with Williams under the breaking ball, palming off to O’Leary for her to run 60 metres before smashing the ball into the roof of the net.

Williams once again embarked on one of her trademark powerful surges upfield but this time it resulted in a penalty after drawing the foul – with O’Leary coolly tapping her fifth goal home.

Crumlin’s enigmatic midfielder, Stacey kicked a classy point from play with Thorpe also adding to their sides tally from a placed ball.

Horan was awarded a penalty late for Crumlin after being hauled down the box but Thorpe, who had been her sides main scoring asset throughout, buried the spot kick wide and to the left with the final kick of the game.

ST MARK’S: L Benim, K Lynch, S Nwakor, M Doyle, C Demoko, A Dobbins, G Petrauskaite, J Oigbochie, A Williams, S Lawless, A O’Leary, A O’Toole, S Ní Raghallaigh, H Byrne, C Carwood, T Staunton, C Ward, J Nestor, L Paisley, T Adejumobo.

CRUMLIN: H Murray, E Dolan, A McMahon, E O’Connor, E Sinclair, A Hodgins, S Gavigan, A Ryan, E Stacey, R Horan, K O’Connor, A Thorpe, C Barry, A Hodgins, E Creighton, S O’Connor, K Hodgins.

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