18 May 2022

Ballinascreen turn in complete performance to see off Swatragh

'Screen will face Slaughtneil in the decider

Ballinascreen turn complete performance to see off Swatragh

Action from Ballinascreen's win over Swatragh.

A complete team performance saw Ballinascreen book their place in this season's county final with a thoroughly deserved win over last year's finalists Swatragh on Saturday afternoon.


Ballinascreen 3-11
Swatragh 2-6

It was a win built on their ability to hit back in the face of Swatragh's two goals, a stellar first half performance from Lauren McKenna and, overall, how they came out on top in most sectors of the pitch.

Ballinascreen dropped Caitriona McBride in as a sweeper, in front of Swatragh inside duo of Dara McGuckin and Shauna Quinn.

Grainne McNicholl played slightly deeper and was followed by Leah McBride who slotted over an early score to help stamp 'Screen's imprint on the game.

Key player Mairead McNicholl was deemed unfit to start, but when she came into the fray in the second-half, Ballinascreen had the game by scruff of the neck and were on their way to victory.

Caroline Rafferty set the early tone in the first minute with a pass to set Jackie Donnelly in on goal where she was fouled and the ever-reliable Aine McAllister popped over from the free.

Donnelly looked lively early on and spare Swatragh defender Niamh Quinn, and those around her, were unable to cut off the space. It was Donnelly who won the ball before Leah McBride slotted over.

Both teams were playing with plenty of intensity, but it was Ballinascreen who were holding all the early aces. Caitriona McBride was sitting in the pocket, Orla McGuigan was a tower of strength in the centre of their defence and Lauren McKenna was getting up the left wing at every opportunity.

It was McKenna's spadework that setup Eimear McGuigan for a score and 'Screen were 0-3 to 0-0 up after eight minutes. A foul on Rachel McAllister handed sister Aine a chance to add to her tally and she did just that.

A tenth minute Shannon O'Doherty free opened Swatragh's scoring, but they needed Catherine McCloy's tackle to prevent Mary Hegarty from getting in on goal. At the other end it needed a Caitriona McBride hook to stop an improving Swatragh getting back in the game.

Swatragh had a stroke luck for their first goal when Grainne McNicholl's long-range free went all the way to the back of the net, cutting the gap to a single point.

Ballinascreen's response was instant. Lauren McKenna began the move and when Jackie Donnelly cut inside the Swatragh defence she rifled an unstoppable shot to the top corner for a 1-4 to 1-1 lead at the water break.

It gave the teams a chance to draw breath. A brilliant long-range Grainne McNicholl cut the gap to three points, but it was their last score for 20 minutes including the remainder of the half when they registered four wides.

Ballinascreen began the second-half in similar fashion. Eimear McGuigan had a shot brilliantly saved by Niamh McQuillan, but after the rebound Jackie Donnelly was fouled and referee Sean Curran awarded a penalty. Up stepped Aine McAllister to place the ball in the top corner for a 2-6 to 1-2 lead.

Aine McAllister has a chance for a third 'Screen goal after sweet pass from an Eimear McGuigan sideline, but her shot went to the right of the posts. McGuigan when curled over the point of the game after Mary Hegarty's flicked hand-pass, 'Screen were 2-8 to 1-6 ahead.

Mairead (2) and Grainne McNicholl replied with Swatragh points, but still 'Screen were well in control.

With eight minutes to go, Swatragh got the goal they needed to give themselves a chance of saving the game. Dervla O'Kane's pass found Dara McGuckin who finished confidently to the net, making the score 2-10 to 2-5.

Back came 'Screen in the next play. Aine McAllister carried the fight upfield before making a goal for Rachel, it was the hammer blow to put the result beyond any doubt.

BALLINASCREEN: Emma McIvor; Mairead Bradley, Dania Donnelly; Leah McBride (0-1); Caitriona McBride; Kelly-Marie Hegarty, Orla McGuigan, Lauren McKenna; Aine McAllister (1-6, 1 pen, 5f), Rachel McAllister (1-1); Mary Hegarty (0-1), Caroline Rafferty, Rachel Kelly; Jackie Donnelly (1-0), Eimear McGuigan (0-2)

SWATRAGH: Niamh McQuillan; Aoife O'Kane, Cliodhna Turner; Niamh Quinn; Bronagh Walsh, Paula McElwee, Catherine McCloy; Dervla O'Kane, Janet McGuckin; Shannon O'Doherty (0-1f), Chloe Bradley, Bronagh McCullagh; Grainne McNicholl (1-3, 1-2f); Dara McGuckin (1-0), Shauna Quinn,
SUBS: Mairead McNicholl (0-2, 1f) for B McCullagh (36), Aine McKenna for A O'Kane (48)

REF: Sean Curran (Faughanvale)

To continue reading this article for FREE,
please kindly register and/or log in.

Registration is absolutely 100% FREE and will help us personalise your experience on our sites. You can also sign up to our carefully curated newsletter(s) to keep up to date with your latest local news!

Register / Login

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.