The final games of the home and away season culminated on Saturday September 25th. The Leeside Lions hosted the Galway Magpies in Cork, while in Belfast the South Dublin Swans took on the Ulster Kookaburras in the Women’s comp while the men did battle with the Belfast Redbacks.
Ulster Kookaburras v South Dublin Swans
The Swans continued their development with a trip north to take on the impressive Ulster Kookaburras. Boasting a wealth of talent and great on ballers, the home side were overwhelming favourites. For the Swans, a chance to get another game against quality opposition under their belt was another step in the right direction.
In a hard fought game, in which the scoreline wasn’t fully reflective of the competitive nature around the ball, the Ulster women came out on top.
Siobhan Sherrin was once again at her best in a tough contest against the Swans. She dominated possession around the ground, allowing the sharp shooting of Eva Cafolla (7 goals) and Niamh O’Neill (4 goals) to do the damage on the scoreboard. Gráinne (3 goals)m and Shannon McLaughlin, Leah Casey and Sherrin herself chipped in with 2 goals a piece in an impressive victory.
Although they may have not impacted the scoreboard, notable mentions to Swans players, Grace Quinlan, Sorcha Nolan and Róisín McWhey.
A tough day at the office for the Swannies against tough opposition, the Kookaburras march on.
Ulster Kookaburras 23 – 17 – 155
South Dublin Swans 0 – 0 – 0
Belfast Redbacks v South Dublin Swans
The Swans came into this game assured of a home Preliminary Final at the minimum. Victory combined with a Magpies win in Cork would see the Dublin side take the minor Premiership. The Redbacks had other ideas however. Buoyed from their Festival of Football victory and impressive games v the Magpies and Lions in recent weeks will have given the Ulster men confidence going into the latter weeks of the season.
A mix of youth and experience was a welcome combination for the home side and on the day they were determined to set down a marker for the Preliminary final. Liam O’Hara top scored for the Redbacks with 3 goals whole Ultan Clancy claimed 2 of his own. The experienced Davy McElhone, Tom McKenna, Gerard Walls and Conor Mallon each claimed a major a piece, added to 1 from John McManus in what was a positive scoring display throughout the squad.
With limited squad numbers from both sides on the day, maybe both holding back for the Preliminary Final , the Swans showed they had strength throughout their ranks, keeping pace somewhat with their rivals. Omar claimed his first goal of the season while a spectacular dribble from Levi Kalms was arguably the pick of the day. Keith Whelan added a goal to go with another impressive display for the Swans midfielder.
In truth the Redbacks had just too much on the day for the Dublin men, meaning that they would each face off in the Preliminary Final a week later.
Belfast Redbacks 10 – 9 – 69
South Dublin Swans 4 – 4 – 28
Leeside Lions v Galway Magpies
The Lions knew the task at hand, win and the minor Premiership was theirs and more importantly a straight path to the AFL Ireland Premiership Grand Final for 2021. The Magpies in their final league fixture for the season were eager to gain more experience in their development as they had their new recruits some valuable game time.
The Lions started brightly and, in truth, never looked back. Kevin Jones was instrumental, pulling the strings in the midfield for the home side and helped himself to 5 majors as he broke into forward 50 time and time again. Not to be outdone, the Lions talisman, Darren O’Dwyer had another fruitful day up forward. 6 gold his hail for the day for the ruthless Leesiders.
The experience of Shaun “Smurf” Murphy has been invaluable for the Galway side this year and has no doubt played a part in developing the less experienced players added in the off season. Yet again, Smurf was the focal point of everything the Maggies did on the day and their hard work around the ground yielded a decent score of 8 goals 9, 57.
The Lions were to be crowned minor premiers however, with goals and intelligent ball use throughout their ranks. Padraic O’Connell and James O’Shea were at their best, kicking 4 goals a piece while David Horgan helped himself to 3.
Leeside Lions 28 – 15 – 183
Galway Magpies 8 – 9 – 57
So the Leeside Lions take the Minor Premiership while the Belfast Redbacks travel to the capital on October 2nd to take on the South Dublin Swans in the Preliminary Final.
Meanwhile in the Womens comp, the Ulster Kookaburras and Cork Vikings will face off on the Grand final on October 9th.