Newpark and Mill Celtic contested the first-ever Scoreline.ie Shield final last night in the fantastic surrounding of St. Pat’s pitch in Graiguecullen.
The game was the culmination of a tough five-week tournament that also crossed over with both teams competing in Leinster action last weekend.
Tiredness definitely was not an issue though for either side, as the energy in the air before kick-off was palpable. Newpark added to their ranks before the tournament with three sets of sisters that among them have plenty of Women’s National League experience, Jenny & Amy Clifford, Jenny & Ally O’Keeffe and Maddie & Ria Lawson.
The first blood was drawn by Newpark when Jenny Clifford showed her previous Irish international experience by cracking the ball on a half volley to blast it into the net. It was a finish that would not be out of place for a FIFA Puskás Award nomination. Newpark doubled the misery for Mill Celtic when Jenny Clifford turned provider for her sister Amy, who recently won the Kilkenny club championship with Dicksboro, and after fifteen minutes Newpark were two up.
The Clifford sisters could have made it three only for Jenny to miss the target from the penalty spot, which drew an audible gasp of shock from the crowd.
A penalty miss from Jenny Clifford, but it's not so bad, her sister Amy has chipped in with a second for Newpark as they lead Mill Celtic 2-0 with about 20 minutes played. @CarlowSoccer pic.twitter.com/cvaAvdWsL4— Scoreline.ie (@scorelinesport) December 15, 2021
Mill Celtic never gave up hope though and continued to press the Newpark defence. Unfortunately for Newpark center-back Ally O’Keeffe, former DLR Waves player, pulled up with a quad injury before the end of the first half. The assured player valiantly tried to play on, however, come halt time the injury was deemed too serious to continue.
Mill Celtic came out swinging in the second half and all their hard work eventually paid off. The ball fell to the feet of Catherine Dempsey who slotted home for the Carlow side to reduce the deficit to just one goal. However, the comeback aspirations started to evaporate when Amy Clifford went down the other way and grabbed her second of the game to put the Bogsiders up by two once again.
Newpark continue to search for a third goal to finish the game off but Geraldine Norton had other ideas. The Celtic goalkeeper pulled off a string of fantastic save to frustrate Stuey Comerford’s side. To their credit Mill Celtic never gave up hope and ramped up the intrigue once again when Nastash Tannion confidently struck the ball over Newpark goalie Jane Flynn to once again bring the game within touching distance for John Corrigan’s ladies.
The pressure continued to be piled on as an equalizer was sought, to combat this Jenny O’Keeffe was instructed to play a much more defensive role for Newpark. With time ticking away the move seemed to work as Newpark confidently ran out the remainder of the game, with the sideline begging for the final whistle to be blown. When the ref purse the lips and blew into the whistle, the elation from the Newpark ladies was clear to see.
It's all over in Carlow as Newpark AFC claim the first – hopefully annual – https://t.co/7gbDXeP9lc Women's Shield. Congratulations! @CarlowSoccer pic.twitter.com/xpE7uwMe6H— Scoreline.ie (@scorelinesport) December 15, 2021
Amy Clifford was deservedly awarded player of the match for her brace, however, her overall play and determination to stretch the Mill Celtic defence was paramount to her side’s victory. The ceremony ended a great night of football between two fantastic sides, who will no doubt meet again in the league.
Newpark manager Stuey Comerford was ecstatic after the final whistle when he spoke to Scoreline ;
“The women do not get the recognition they deserve. There are some fantastic players out there today. I was nervous all day! We cant wait to get stuck into football again in Leinster.”
Newpark will find out their last 16 Leinster opponents today from 2pm.
From all of us here at Scoreline.ie , we would like to thank the players, managers, and Carlow District League for allowing us to sponsor this amazing tournament. We are looking forward to next year’s competition already.