Cup delight as McMullan lifts Swifts to glory

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Cup delight as McMullan lifts Swifts to glory thumbnail

SION Swifts Ladies wrote themselves into the history books last Thursday night as they became the first club from outside Belfast to win the Women's Challenge Cup.
Team captain Kendra McMullan weighed in with two second half goals to clinch a 2-0 victory over Newry City at the National Stadium in Belfast.
The title was a fitting end to a memorable season for the Swifts, who finished as runners-up in the Women's Premiership a few weeks ago.
With Swifts edging out Newry 4-3 recently, and the Co. Down girls finishing just a point behind Sion in the league, a tight game was in store, but Sion were evidently the better side over the course of the evening in Belfast and thoroughly deserved their victory.
A few early corners causing problems inside the Newry six yard box as Sion began on top. Their first effort at goal came from defender Claragh Connor, whose shot from the edge of the box rose over the cross bar.
A great run from Geny Decker on 23 minutes cut through the heart of the Newry defence, teeing up Kendra McMullan who fired over.
Newry then had their first real foray into the Sion box as Trudie Harbinson cut down the left wing, only for Connor to get across and avert the danger with a well-timed tackle.
Swifts continued to mount the pressure as the half wore on though, and they nearly broke the deadlock in the 38th minute when Chloe McGlade played a great give-and-go with McMullan to find space in the box, but her low strike was kept out by the feet of Newry keeper Megan Cinnamond. Moments later, McGlade showed great footwork to bamboozle a series of defenders, but her ball across the goal failed to find an onrushing team-mate.
The threat of Newry's Northern Ireland international Aimee Mackin was being well dealt with by Cathy Hyndman and her fellow defenders, and a few set pieces were cleared to safety from the Sion penalty box before Ryan Hanna sounded for half-time with the game still stalemate.
The second half began with Swifts again enjoying the lion's share of possession, and the slick passing between McMullan, McGlade and Decker almost created a few openings, with Decker going through on goal only to be halted for a narrow offside decision.
The breakthrough then came on 73 minutes in stunning fashion. Tyler Toland took possession past the halfway line and found McMullan in some room 30 yards from goal. With the ball sitting up nicely, the Swifts skipper tried her luck with an arcing half-volley that flew over the head of Cinnamond and into the back of the net.
It was advantage Swifts, and straight away they went on the hunt for number two, with McGlade turning back on the edge of the box and almost outfoxing Cinnamond again with a curing left foot effort.
Moments later though, captain fantastic McMullan struck again, this time arriving onto a loose ball in the penalty area to fire a thunderous strike into the bottom left corner, sending the Swifts support went into delirium.
Newry came back down the field in response, and Celine Curtis went close to halving the deficit in the 80th minute. But Swifts maintained their composure in the final passage of the game with committed, confident defending, seeing out the win and writing their names into the history books.
Sion Swifts: Niamh Mailey, Emma Carlin, Kelly Compton, Claragh Connor, Cathy Hyndman, Tyler Toland, Kendra McMullan (c), Zoe McGlynn, Orla Devenney (Ciana Brogan 66), Genie Decker (Tasmin McCarter 82), Chloe McGlade.
Subs not used: Laura McCurdy, Ally Canning, Orlagh Falconer
Newry City: Megan Cinnamond, Blaithin Mackin (Elenize Belem 80), Luany De Sousa, Shalette Alexander, Amanda Dias, Rayza De Souza, Aimee Mackin, Celine Curtis, Moya Feehan (c), Trudie Harbinson (Clare Taylor 58), Patricia De Silva (Kate Flood 24).
Subs not used: Jacqueline Gomes, Leanne Domican
Referee: Ryan Hanna


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