By Martin McBrien
A first minute Laura Grew goal, followed by a carbon copy strike just six minutes later, got Aghadrumsee off to a flying start as the rain poured down on the Belnaleck pitch.
Two more goals near the end of the first half left the title destination very clearly signposted on as the Aghadrumsee ladies led 4-5 to 0-5 at the interval.
Following that early double-body blow, Belcoo never really got into the game at any stage.
Their attack, despite the best efforts of Elaine Maguire, Michelle Cullen and Sinead Barrett, could make little headway against the quick covering of the winners’ defence.
The Aghadrumsee rearguard was well anchored by team captain Ellen McMahon and Erica Douglas.
Aghadrumsee were stronger and sharper and adapted much better to the greasy conditions which made ball handling difficult.
With a superior spread of scorers, led by county player Grew, they dominated the game.
The forceful running of half forward, Aoife McCabe, was another key element for the winners and the ‘Player of the Match’ was especially prominent in the first half.
A 3rd minute Maguire pointed free got Belcoo off the mark but McCabe soon cancelled before Grew’s second goal.
With points being traded, it was 2-4 to 0-4 by the 21st minute when each side had a player yellow carded following an isolated incident, in a very sporting contest.
Aghadrumsee were better able to adapt and a well-judged Grew point, followed by goals from Niamh Boyle and Blaithin McAleer opened up a healthy lead. Another Maguire free for Belcoo kept their tally mounting.
Belcoo were first off the mark in the second half from a Barrett point but Sarah Jane Flanagan soon cancelled this out.
Scoring then slowed up but Cullen and Dearbhla Murray traded scores with Flanagan making it 4-8 to 0-7 by the end of the third quarter.
Belcoo did get a penalty lifeline in the 53rd minute but to further show it just wasn’t their day, Maguire’s spot kick flew over the bar.
Aghadrumsee finished with a flourish, Grew hooking over an excellent point before converting from distance and McAleer wrapping it all up in the 60th minute.
For delighted Aghadrumsee the result represents a second league title in three years as well as a swift return to top flight competition, their main target following last year’s relegation.
Belcoo were left to ruefully contemplate a second successive league final defeat but on this occasion, they will be all too aware that they just didn’t do themselves justice.
Aghadrumsee; Sarah Keenan; Niamh Fitzpatrick, Ellen McMahon, Niamh McMahon; Niamh Beggan, Erica Douglas, Niamh Lambe; Sarah Jane Flanagan (0-3), Blaithin McAleer (1-1); Aoife McCabe (0-1), Dearbhla Murray (0-2, 1f), Sarah McCarville (0-1); Niamh Boyle (1-0), Aoife Scott, Laura Grew (2-3, 1f). Subs; Emma Mohan for N. McMahon 46m; Ava Crudden for A. Scott 53m; Elizabeth O’Hara for N. Boyle 55m; Yellow card; S. McCarville 21m.
Belcoo; Riona Keaney; Kelly Connolly, Cara Grey, Siofra McAloon; Rhianne McGuinness, Leona McNulty, Crona Higgins; Seana Feeley, Sinead Barrett (0-1); Sam Martin, Michelle Cullen (0-3), Scarlett O’Connor; Mikayla Maguire, Elaine Maguire (0-4, 3f), Stacey McCabe. Subs; Lorna McEniry for S. McAloon 24m; Stephanie Maguire for S. McCabe 30m; Eve Barrett for M. Maguire 40m. Yellow card; S. Feeley 21m.
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