On Thursday last, November 17th, history was made when Gortskehy girls overcame Culleens NS, Ballina and Breaffy NS to win the Mini-7 County Final for the first time.
The Dome at the Connacht Centre of Excellence welcomed champions from the four corners of the county who arrived in anticipation of taking home silverware after an exciting campaign which began two months earlier. The semi-final line-up featured North (Culleens, Ballina) vs South (Gortskehy) and East (Charlestown) vs West (Breaffy).
At 11.30am referee John Finn threw in the ball and Gortskehy got off to a great start with Holly Hession knocking over a point followed shortly afterwards by a brace of goals from Faye Tierney. Grace Hristova was rarely troubled in goal until a hopeful ball found it’s way past the Gortskehy defence and Culleens fired to the net with a soccer-style shot that any premier league player would be proud of.
This was the only breach in the opening half as Sorsha Jennings and Aoife Hession were dominant on the backline. Holly Murphy took a fine point extending Gortskehy’s lead to five and Holly Hession added another, leaving the half-time scoreline 2-3 to 1-0.
The champions from Ballina were not to exit the stage so meekly, however, and following some positional changes proved much stronger in the second half. They opened the scoring with a goal, quickly followed by another to leave the teams on level pegging. A point by Holly Hession restored Gortskehy’s lead but this was short-lived as Culleens again found the net to go two points ahead for the first time in the game.
The mark of this Gortskehy team throughout the competition is that they never let their heads go down in spite of adverse momentum and Alaois Doherty, held scoreless up to now, fired home a wonderful goal to tip the balance once again in Gortskehy’s favour. Culleens responded with another goal to restore their lead but Alaois dominated the closing stretch with a brace of goals to secure a hat-trick and a hard-fought win for Gortskehy.
Culleens had won the second half by two points but the first half Gortskehy blitz proved decisive as they progressed to the final on a scoreline of 5-4 to 5-0.
Gortskehy: Grace Hristova, Sorsha Jennings, Aoife Hession, Alaois Doherty (3-0), Faye Tierney (2-0), Holly Hession (0-3), Holly Murphy (0-1).
The other semi-final saw Breaffy overcome Charlestown and, at 12.30, John Finn began the County Final with Holly Hession opening the scoring by bagging her first goal of the day. Breaffy responded with two points before Holly Murphy slotted home a goal with a fine shot that smashed in off the post. Breaffy finished the first half by tapping over a point to leave the half-time score Gortskehy 2-0, Breaffy 0-3.
Goals were shared in the opening minutes of the second half with Alaois Doherty keeping Gortskehy in front. Faye Tierney extended the lead by splitting the posts but Breaffy responded with a couple of fine points to leave just two between them as the game approached full time. Sorsha Jennings and Aoife Hession were busy on the back line as Breaffy came in search of a goal that might snatch a late victory. Following a clearance out of defence, Alaois Doherty won a free which she calmly slotted between the posts. The quick kick-out was won in mid-field by Faye Tierney who soloed past two attempts to stop her before blasting the ball over the crossbar which left Gortskehy now four points up.
As John Finn blew the final whistle, rounds of applause and cheers rang out beneath the Dome. The girls were congratulated by supporters, young and old, who saw Billy McNicholas, Mayo GAA Games Manager, present captain Grace Hristova with the County Shield before her team members received their medals.
Final Score: Gortskehy 3-3, Breaffy 1-5.
Gortskehy: Grace Hristova, Sorsha Jennings, Aoife Hession, Alaois Doherty (1-1), Faye Tierney (0-2), Holly Hession (1-0), Holly Murphy (1-0). Second half substitution, Ciara Hession for Holly Murphy.
Celebrations continued on the way home with a trip to Supermacs in Ballindine for a much needed meal. The welcome the team received back at school was a sight to behold with bonfires lining the route and a sea of red and white to greet them as they got off the bus. The whole community is so proud of our girls who made history on November 17th, 2022.