Mayo Under 13/Under 14 girls manager Michael Collins presenting the plaque to Kilmurry captain Bridie Gough (left) and Kiltimagh/Knock United captain Ava Mitchell (right).

Kilmurry and Kiltimagh/Knock share Mayo league crown

THE Mayo Schoolboys/Girls Under 13 red league went to a play-off after Kilmurry Youth Soccer Club and Kiltimagh Knock United finished level at the top each with an impressive 31 points out of a possible 36.

Both teams lost just the one league match, ironically enough against each other, so Sunday, July 24, last Solar 21 Park hosted the game which it was hoped would separate two such well matched young sides.

The game opened in a real end to end fashion with KK winning their first corner in the second minute and Kilmurry being just too high two minutes later. The Kilmurry back four of Allie Moyles, Eabha Gardiner, Bridie Gough and Ruth Jordan were ever diligent, with the dangerous Ava Mitchell always lurking menacingly and the Kilmurry girls had a very capable goalkeeper in Carragh Tolan.

For KK, there was lots of good forward play involving Mia Dowd and Saoirse Jennings benefitting from the good midfield play of Ellie Gibbs Harris, Mollie Gaughan and Orlaith Redmond. This led to KK forcing a number of early corners which were capably dealt with by the north Mayo girls.

Kilmurry took the lead on nine minutes when Niamh Hegarty finished well after good approach play by Hannah Mc Hugh and Maya Benson.

KK drew level on 18 minutes when Mitchell gave a great demonstration on how to defend from the front and she deserved the lucky break that she got. At the half-time whistle, it was no great surprise that these two sides were still level.

The second half was very much a story of defensive excellence. Laya Walsh in the KK goal pulled off the first of a number of outstanding saves in the 33rd minute and the KK centre-back pairing of Sive Flanagan and Ruby O'Brien were much to the fore as were the full-backs Elen Jounova and Leah McNicholas. For Kilmurry, Claire Hegarty, Kate Ann Loftus and Andrea Cooke were very prominent in the second half hour period but KK's defending was superb and Walsh pulled off a fantastic double save four minutes from time and followed that up with an unbelievably brave block a minute later which saw her having to leave the game with an injury. Ava Mitchell took over between the posts and the full-time whistle sounded and still tied at 1-1.

Both periods of extra-time saw both sides have chances but also tire not surprisingly. Mitchell made the last crucial save near the end.

Both management teams agreed to share the league plaque rather than put the girls through the agony of a penalty shootout. Football was certainly the winner here.

Mayo Under 13/Under 14 girls manager Michael Collins made the presentation to both captains, Bridie Gough of Kilmurry and Ava Mitchell of KK.

Michael commended both teams and their management teams on another wonderful game of football. Michael had witnessed the 3-2 victory for KK in Knock and also the 3-2 victory for Kilmurry at their ground, so there really is literally nothing between both teams.

He also thanked Patrick Lambe of the Mayo Schoolboys/girls league for getting the enormous amount of fixtures in this county played.

Finally, he thanked referee Ciaran Nevin for his officiating of the game.

Kilmurry squad: C. Tolan, A. Moyles, E. Gardiner, B. Gough (capt), R. Jordan, H. McHugh, N. Hegarty, C. Hegarty, K. A. Loftus, M. Benson, A. Cooke, A. Garrett, A. Lynn, M. Cleary, H. Connor, K. O'Boyle, M. K. Fergus, E. Benson, A. Coggins.

Kiltimagh Knock United squad: L. Walsh, E. Jounova, L. McNicholas, S. Flanagan, R. O'Brien, E. Gibbs Harris, M. Dowd, M. Gaughan, A. Mitchell, S. Jennings, O. Redmond, G. Kelly, L. Jennings, E. Burke, A. Burke, H. Shannon, L. O'Brien, S. Wagner, L. Jennings.

Ref: C. Nevin.