The long trip to Sligo began early on November 10th, but the Bower side was alert and ready to impress in the Ward Cup 2021. This tournament involves a number of teams from Connacht with Our Lady’s Bower facing Ursuline College, Sligo, Calasanctius College, Oranmore and Seamount College, Kinvarra. Games were 30 minutes straight with the same teams playing again on Tuesday, November 23rd in Athlone.

Game One Vs Ursuline College – The game began apprehensively as both teams started to test each other out. But it was OLB who found their form the quickest and just before 3 minutes had gone, Kate Stuart-Trainor scored a well worked goal. After continued pressure, Kate once again played her way into the opponent’s box and after a few deflections the ball fell to Aoife Purtill, who finished clinically after 7 minutes. This kick-started a response from Ursuline College but OLB’s defence were concise and effective in stopping any attack. The pressure was then reapplied by the Bower, but they failed to turn it into goals, with a number of wides and good saves by the goal-keeper. On 20 minutes OLB earned a short corner. The ball was passed across the box well and with a few precise passes the ball was given to Aoife Purtill to score her second and OLB’s third.  With 26 minutes on the clock, Kate Stuart-Trainor picked up the ball in her end and went on a fast dribble the length of the pitch, where a defender tackled her on the edge of the box. Kate in determined mood won the ball back, turned and fired a shot to score a wonderful individual goal. (FT: OLB 4 – Ursuline College 0)

Game Two Vs Calasanctius College – This was thought to be a tougher test and that was proven to be the case. For the first 5 minutes OLB was under attack. A short corner was defended well, with Riona Cunnigham having to be attentive in goal the whole time. OLB then began to get more organised and started to put the opposition on the back foot. From a short corner Kate Stuart-Trainor almost opened the scoring but the defence was solid. The attacks became more structured and from the second short corner Hannah Henneghan’s shot went just wide. This game was played with 2 well organised and balanced teams and it appeared that just 1 goal would do to win for either side. With 10 minutes left another impressive attack from OLB almost gave them this goal, however, the Calasanctius goalkeeper made a great save with her feet. On the 25th minutes The Bower started a phase of short corner opportunities, 4 in a row. It looked like OLB were going to get the win especially with Jenny Paul playing well placed crosses into the D. But the goal never came. This was a very competitive game, but OLB’s players felt they had missed the chance to win, especially as they had a total of 10 short corners in the game, something they are usually so accurate at executing. (Ft: OLB 0 – Calasanctius 0

Game Three Vs Seamount – From the first whistle Seamount were quick out of the blocks and straight on the attack. With a couple of minutes gone Seamount earned a free and caught OLB’s defence napping as they took the lead. Like the previous game, this was played with two very skilful and well set up teams. As a result, the action was back and forth as a very entertaining game unfolded. Seamount were playing well and were regularly threatening to increase their advantage. A special mention here for both Ceara Dwyer and Alison Nugent who were fantastic at the back and defended exceptionally well. Unfortunately, OLB skill and luck from their short corners was not paying off, as saves and wides stopped them from equalising. With 5 minutes remaining Moya McKiernan took a wonderful strike which beat the keeper. Jessica Collins was there to ensure it reached the back of the goal. The Bower received the reward they worked so hard for. It’s hard to say who’s goal it actually was, but both players agreed it was a great!!! In the last seconds, Kate Stuart-Taylor completed a fine run and fired a wonderful cross in front of the goal to win it, but there was no-one there to finish. A draw was the right result for this game. (FT OLB 0 – Seamount 0)

A Great display of hockey from all teams and players involved, Well done. The next round is Tuesday, November 23rd with the top two teams progressing to finals day.