After a convincing win away against Ballyboughal last week (Admittedly a pale shadow of their all conquering 2017 and 2018 side), The St Brendan's Ladies 1st XV, sponsored by McGowans, got their first 2020 experience of Grangegorman and an encounter against Scoil Uí Chonaill in Round 3 of the Junior B Championship.
The girls from Clontarf Road hit the opening score and after a wide from Niamh 'Moonlighting' Willis. Aoife Watters won the kickout, passed to Niamh Cox and onto Sinead Morrissey for the equalising score for The Female Dark Force. The Inishowen Combination of Roisin McDonald and Aisling Newton worked well in the build up to the goal with The Mullingar Dynamo Morrissey hit the net to make it 1-1 to 0-1 after 3.5 minutes.
Another Scoil point followed and Newton made it 2-1 to 0-2 after Faye 'Dunaway' Kearney won Karen O'Connell's kick out and again McDonald supplied the final pass to her fellow Inishowen lady. St Brendan's kept motoring and Willis won a free in and played the ball to Shauna 'Jet' Fitzpatrick for a point and a six point lead after 8.5 minutes.
Both sides traded points, with Shauna Keane getting the St Brendan's point after an initial Newton wide, she won the Scoil kickout and passed to Keane for the score. The Away side nothed up their fourth point before the first half water break.
The Brendan's backs were under pressure after the first half swig of the magic bottle, with Scoil getting a fifth point, but their route to goal was blocked with a turnover from Kerry McGourty and clearance from Sophie 'The Model' Freeman, and it was the clearance which yielded St Brendan's third goal of the evening, following a Kearney lung busting solo run and pass to Aisling Newton, who passed to Fitzpatrick and the third green glag raised, 3-3 to 0-5 after 21:25.
That became 3-4 thanks to The Fermanagh Thumb Niamh Cox after another McGourty turnover. Scoil Uí Chonaill's pressure finally told at the end of the first half with three unanswered points, but could have got a goal only for an intervention from Pamela Gaskin and so it was 3-4 to 0-8 at half time.
In the second half, Scoil Uí Chonaill put their seasoned Junior B expereince to good use and within 4 minutes the five point deficit was whittled down to 1. The goal came when a Scoil shot was going wide, but was narrowly kept in and Karen O'Connell was beaten for goal.
Sinead Morrissey had an opportunity to put two between the sides again with a free in, but the free in hit the upright and into Newton's breadbasket but her goal attempt was blasted wide. Scoil Uí Chonaill had their tails up and hit a second goal to take the lead they would never surrender, followed by another point to take the lead to three. 3-4 to 2-10.
A Karen O'Connell kickout went straight to a Scoil player who promptly punished that error by lobbing the ball over O'Connell's head and a third goal. 10:15 gone in the second half and Aisling Newton scored what turned out to be St Brendan's sole second half score with a point after a pass from Niamh Cox, which was her last contribution of the match because he was replaced by Nicola Carrabine.
Twice, Sinead Morrissey dropped free in's into the square and twice were caught by Newton and Willis and on both occasions, the shot went wide, the deficit was still six points. Make that seven when Scoil was awarded a penalty and Faye Kearmey sin binned, but the penalty went over the bar, but with six minutes to go, the ball went into the net for a fourth time. The game petered out as a contest and Scoil Uí Chonaill ran out winners and are now favourites for the Junior B Championship.
For St Brendan's, a tough learning curve against a side whom this writer compared to the all conquering Ballyboughal class of 2018, The Female Dark Force must now win both the remaining group games to get into a semi final, starting next Wednesday away to Erins Isle.
Final Score from Grangegorman St Brendan's 3-5 Scoil Uí Chonaill 4-11.
Speaking of Erins Isle away, that was where the St Brendan's 2nd XV were this evening in the 3rd and final round of the Junior G Championship and the team can now prepare for a Junior G Shield Semi Final, away to St Mary's Saggart next Wednesday after drawing 2-10 each with the Finglas outfit.