Stewart’s last minute magic powers Armagh

Women’s ESB National Indoor Trophy final
Armagh 2 (Lucy McKee, Emma Stewart) Railway Union 1 (Kate McKenna)

Emma Stewart with scarcely five seconds remaining to hand Armagh the ESB women’s National Indoor Trophy at the first attempt as they ended Railway Union’s reign as champions with a wafer-thin 2-1 victory.

They were forced to absorb plenty of pressure in parts but, by the same token, had they picked off a higher strike rate from their nine corners, it could have been a different story, too.

Lucy McKee – as so often in the competition – got them off to a flyer as she netted a neat switched corner in the very first minute.

And it was almost two from the second set-piece when Holly Jenkinson took Emma Stewart’s effort off the line after she had given Grace O’Flanagan the slip.

But Railway were giving as good as they were getting, earning a couple of early corners, the second of which Isobel Joyce shot goalwards only to hit Amy Stewart’s body on the line.

Kate Dillon took the resulting penalty stroke but became the second player of the day to be denied from the spot by Armagh as Rhiannon McNally stood tall to block skywards a high effort.

Cecelia Joyce was also beaten by the whistle with a corner awarded instead though her tap-in from a high ball was probably taken in mid-air and so the decision was a just one.

Corners came and went for both teams while Isobel Joyce also had an effort chalked off, again a high ball intervening in the first minute of the second half.

The Dubliners subsequently kept out a run of three corners with Jenkinson taking a couple of blows to the body for her troubles as part of a brave defensive effort.

From play, chances were scarcer but Emer Lucey almost unlocked the door with a rush from right-back but McNally again stood firm.

The equaliser did come in the 34th minute from one of the most flowing moves of the game, Isobel Joyce spreading play to the right corner where Jenkinson crossed and Kate McKenna swept in first time.

Armagh, however, came down the closing stretch with gusto, Emma Stewart powering the team and they won yet another corner with over a minute remaining. Again, Jenkinson got in the way of the shot but it yielded a ninth Armagh corner with the seconds counting down.

The corner did not come out directly but the elder Stewart did well to readjust, allowing the ball outside of the circle and flicking through a melee of players. There was scarcely time to restart and Armagh had their first ever national title in dramatic fashion.

Railway Union: Grace O’Flanagan, Isobel Joyce, Kate Dillon, Holly Jenkinson, Cecelia Joyce, Emer Lucey
Subs: Kate McKenna, Jeamie Deacon, Eimear Dolan, Orla Fox, Lisa McCarthy

Armagh: Rhiannon McNally, Emma Stewart (c), Leah Ewart, Lucy McKee, Amy Stewart, Ydele White
Subs: Scarlett Holdsworth, Kerri McDonald, Christine Russell

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