There were perfect weather conditions for the 2021 Nancy Murray Cup Final in Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada in Carrick on Shannon. Both teams were eager and Tyrone had a point to prove having lost the final to Cavan last year.
Mayo, in their first year out in adult competition, in a very long time were keen to make their mark in an already very successful year for the team.
Play was fast from the throw in and the first quarter was evenly matched possession wise with both teams vying for each and every ball. Tyrone’s free taker, Reagan Faye opened the the Red Hand county’s scoreline with a point from a free within the first 2 minutes of play.
Mayo had some great early runs of play and attacks into the Tyrone half of the pitch. Ava Lambert taking a brilliant solo run in but being fouled. Eleanor Harrison took a point from the free, her first of 5 points in the game.
Both teams were settling into the match and play was flowing well. Tyrone’s Niamh McNulty had a great shot and took a point. A free won by Meabh Delaney, taken by Aoife Doherty was sent into Aine Charlton whose shot was picked up by Ciara Delaney.
Nothing was going to stop her and Ciara Delaney sent her ball powerfully into the back of the Tyrone net.
Tyrone didn’t put their heads down and Reagan Faye went on a run into the Mayo back lines and scored a point from play to level the match.
There were many scoring chances for Tyrone during the first quarter but the Mayo back lines were excellent and shepherded away any threats on goal. Aoibheann Crawley had some epic saves and along with her back line of Amy Mulkeen, Rachel Lyons and Grainne Delaney they kept the Tyrone forwards from getting a ball into the net.
Towards the end of the first quarter a lovely hand pass from Lisa Scahill to Ava Lambert resulted in a free which Eleanor Harrison converted with ease. Going into the first water break Mayo lead by 2 points with 1 goal and 3 points to Tyrone’s 4 points.
During the second quarter Mayo were really displaying confidence, composure and skill to increase the scoreline significantly and hold Tyrone scoreless. The Mayo players seemed better able to read and anticipate the ball and had a lot of space in which to position themselves well.
Captain Helen O’Malley took a shot which initially looked like it might go over the bar, but instead lobbed in over the Tyrone goal keepers head for a goal. This encouraged the Mayo attack to move up a gear and the Tyrone goalkeeper and back line were kept busy with sustained attacks and they managed some great clearances.
Mairead Charlton dispossessed Reagan Faye on a couple of occasions and no doubt reduced the Tyrone scoreline in doing so. A Shauna Golden pass was picked up by Eleanor Harrison who then had a powerful shot on goal but it was saved well by Julie Langan and sent out.
The resulting 45’, taken by Meabh Delaney added another point to the board. When play restarted the Tyrone puck out was won by Shauna Golden who sent the ball back up the field to Ciara Delaney who passed it to Lisa Scahill. Lisa got it out of trouble by handpassing to Ava Lambert who took her well deserved point. Another free taken by Eleanor Harrison put the Mayo players ahead by 8 points going into half time.
Mayo 2.06 Tyrone 0.04
Half time is always a turning point in a match and can curb a teams’ momentum when the match restarts. Not this Mayo team, they burst into the second half with Aine Charlton winning the throw in, hitting the ball right up to Ciara Delaney who picked it out of the air and sent it flying into the Tyrone net for her second goal of the match.
Mayo now had a lead of 11 points. But again Tyrone fought back and no doubt they were determined to push on despite having not scored since the 12th minute of the game. Reagan Faye scored two points one from play and one from a free in quick succession and you could feel the urgency beginning to build in the Tyrone players.
Tyrone made three changes in the third quarter to strengthen up their defences and it seemed to work as they were clearing Mayo attacks more confidently. The Tyrone players tightening up their marking and not giving Mayo as much room as in the first half.
The Red Hand players launched a few attacks on the Mayo goal and while most were successfully cleared, Niamh McNulty finally got a shot past the back lines and into the net.
This buoyed up both the Tyrone team and supporters, however another Eleanor Harrison free was converted soon after.
Reagan Faye scored a point from a 45’ and another from a free for a foul on Niamh McNulty which pulled back Mayo’s lead to 5 points going into the second half water break.
Mayo 3.07 Tyrone 1.08
With Tyrone outscoring Mayo 3 points to 1 point in the third quarter the pressure was building on the red and green to secure the match beyond a doubt.
Tyrone burst into the final quarter and began with a goal attack which Aoibheann Crawley saved. Regan Faye then scored a point from play after another sustained attack from the Tyrone forwards. Ciara McGready took a point from play and then Grainne Rafferty added her name to the scoreboard.
Three points in quick succession by Tyrone meant that the lead held by Mayo was dwindling down to just 2 points. Tyrone were attacking every ball with a renewed focus as the match headed into injury time.
Emily Kelly, after a massive performance, was replaced by Orna Hession during this quarter. With less than a minute left of normal time, Reagan Faye wins a free and converts taking Mayo’s lead to just one score.
The match stepped up a few gear and passions were rising as Mayo won a hotly contested free, from which Meabh Delaney sent up to Eleanor Harrison but it went wide. Tyrone began attacking again but Grainne Delaney cleared it from the Mayo back lines and up to safety.
Tyrone had a few more attempts to score but nothing was sticking. In the dying seconds a line ball from Tyrone was won by Shauna Golden who fired it up the field to Eleanor Harrison who cleared it to Helen O’Malley. Orna Hession was the next Mayo player to get her hands on the sliotar and she drove it over the bar for a Mayo score to put two points between the teams and secure the win.
It was a great fast paced match and all the players left everything on the pitch.
Aine Charlton at midfield was a powerful force and maintained a dominant hold on her position. She ensured that the Mayo front lines were supplied with good ball throughout the match and her performance throughout the match earned her the Player of the Match Award.
Mayo 3.08 Tyrone 1.12
Mayo: Aoibheann Crawley, Rachel Lyons, Amy Mulkeen, Grainne Delaney, Shauna Golden, Mairead Charlton, Aoife Doherty, Meabh Delaney (0.1), Aine Charlton, Emily Kelly, Ava Lambert (0.1), Helen O’Malley (1.0), Eleanor Harrison (0.5), Lisa Scahill, Ciara Delaney (2.0)
Subs: Orna Hession (0.1) for Emily Kelly