FAI Intermediate Cup final a bridge too far for Douglas Hall as Whitehall run out easy winners

Despite this national final loss, it has been a great season for the Hall, who have been the best team in Cork by a long way all year
FAI Intermediate Cup final a bridge too far for Douglas Hall as Whitehall run out easy winners

Stacey Paul O'Regan, Douglas Hall LFC, Aisling Dunbar, Whitehall Rangers AFC. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Douglas Hall 2 Whitehall Rangers 6

THERE was heartbreak for Douglas Hall in the final of the FAI Women’s Intermediate Cup as they were beaten 6-2 by Whitehall Rangers at Turner’s Cross on Sunday afternoon.

A superb brace from Alison O’Connell proved to be just a consolation for the CWSSL Senior Premier Division Champions as a clinical Whitehall side lifted the silverware.

Hall had the game’s first effort at goal - Whitehall earlier had a couple from close-range in quick succession but the linesman’s flag was up - in the fifth minute but former Cork City midfielder Maggie Duncliffe’s long-range free-kick drifted off target.

But with their first genuine sight at goal, Rangers would take the lead thanks to Rachel McLoughlin.

 Aoibhe Noonan, Douglas Hall LFC, takes on Charlie Graham, Whitehall Rangers AFC. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Aoibhe Noonan, Douglas Hall LFC, takes on Charlie Graham, Whitehall Rangers AFC. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

After a dangerous corner-kick was cleared out to the right flank, Deborah Burnett quickly returned it back over the defence towards McLoughlin, who expertly slotted the ball past the keeper from a few yards out.

And things got even better for the Dublin club just two minutes later as they doubled their lead with a stunning strike from their captain Charlie Graham.

The number 10 produced an excellent piece of control from a Hall goal kick before drilling the bouncing ball back over the keeper, who could only turn it against her crossbar but couldn’t prevent it from crossing her line.

And by the 17th minute, it almost seemed like it was game over as Whitehall grabbed a third from another set-piece with Rebecca Creagh looping a brilliant header over Tracey Kiely and into the net at the Shed End.

But Douglas, to their credit, refused to believe their hopes of landing the cup were gone and they caused their opponents problems with quick passes over the top of their high line.

Moments after Alison O’Connell squandered a glorious opening, she would make amends by pulling a goal back for her side when she tucked home former City playmaker Stacey Paul O’Regan’s excellent cross from the end-line.

The Douglas Hall team. Picture: Michael P Ryan/Sportsfile
The Douglas Hall team. Picture: Michael P Ryan/Sportsfile

But the revival only lasted five minutes as just before the half-hour Whitehall restored their three-goal advantage with a low, powerful drive from the edge of the penalty area by McLoughlin - her second of the afternoon.

And just before the half-time break, it was 5-1 as Erika Browne slotted the ball past Kiely at the second time of asking albeit it was from a tight angle.

Both teams somehow failed to add to their respective tallies shortly after the restart with the crossbar denying McLoughlin's shot from distance before Claire Cooney hacked Creagh’s tame attempt off the line.

Either side of that Aoibhe Noonan - the younger sister of Republic of Ireland international Saoirse - rattled the woodwork from a free kick before Whitehall would make it 6-1 as Browne clipped in her second before O’Connell pulled another goal back for a spirited Hall side late on.

 Alison O'Connell, Douglas Hall LFC, battles Tara Berrigan, Whitehall Rangers AFC. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Alison O'Connell, Douglas Hall LFC, battles Tara Berrigan, Whitehall Rangers AFC. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

DOUGLAS HALL: Tracey Kiely, Ciara Desmond, Claire Cooney, Emma McCarthy, Carissa Murphy, Stacey Paul O’Regan, Amy McCarthy, Maggie Duncliffe, Aoibhe Noonan, Alison O’Connell, Allie Mullins.

Subs: Kadie Lambe for Allie Mullins (62), Sharon Ring for Ciara Desmond (77), Lydia McCarthy for Aoibhe Noonan (85).

WHITEHALL RANGERS: Grace McAuley Ryan, Aisling Dunbar, Emma Boyle, Joan Daly, Tara Berrigan, Deborah Burnett, Rebecca Creagh, Rachel McLoughlin, Erika Browne, Charlie Graham, Helen Cooney.

Subs: Natasha Graham for Joan Daly (ht), Ann-Marie Keegan for Helen Cooney (60), Sinead O’Kelly for Deborah Burnett (75), Alyson McGrath for Grace McAuley Ryan (83), Kirsten Hall for Erika Browne (87).

Referee: Mark Kennedy.

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