Contributed by: Tash Gunawardana Monday, August 21 2017 @ 10:10 am ACST
The Women’s International Grand Final between the Alfa Ireland Banshees and the Canada Northern Lights was held at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne on Saturday the 20th August at 4:30pm.
On paper this Grand Final looked like it would be a close encounter between two teams who know each other very well when it comes to the pointy end of the International Cup. As both teams have played in the past two grand finals, one win each with the Alfa Ireland Banshees winning the 2011 Grand Final and Canada Northern Lights getting the chocolates in the 2014 Grand Final.
The first term was tight and even from both teams. Nicole Robertson slotted through Northern Lights first goal of the match from about 30m out. There was hard and ferocious tackling the early stages of the first quarter and this was the start any footy fan would want for a Grand Final. Maebh Moriarty was able to kick the Banshees first goal in a tight opening term.
The Northern Lights had a lot more of the footy than the Banshees, but there ineffective ball use was letting them down when going into their attacking 50. Aimee Legault the Northern Light’s captain was everywhere for the Northern Lights in the first and she was becoming a headache for the Banshees. The Northern Lights were up by one point at quarter time over the Banshees.
The second quarter was very close and Aimee Legault was leading from the front for her team. Alfa Ireland Banshees had a lot more of the footy in the second term but there ineffective ball use was letting them down and the Northern Lights were a bit smarter and cleaner with their ball use.
Tricia Rolfe kicked truly for the Northern Lights first 6 pointer of the second term from the goal square after she was paid a free kick from a big push in the back. In the second, the Banshees only were able to manage a single goal via Aisling Gillespie who slotted through the goal off her left foot.
The Banshees had more of the attacking play towards the end of the second, but all their hard work did not pay off because of their ineffective kicks into their 50. Canada’s Northern Lights had the slight ascendency on the scoreboard with an 8-point lead over the Banshees.
The third quarter was a tight tussle again to begin with the Northern Lights only able to manage a behind and the Banshees only a goal in the third. There were plenty of stoppages in the third and this was reflective of the how both teams pressure and intensity level lifted in the third. Linda Connolly was able to rove and slot through the Banshees first and only goal of the third quarter.
Credit goes to the Banshees who were able to keep the Northern Lights goalless in the third term. The Banshees were down by 3 points heading into the final quarter of this nail biter of a grand final.
In the final term of the grand final, the Banshees were able to put a halt to the Northern Lights scoring and the Northern Lights were kept scoreless in a frustrating final quarter for them. Credit goes to the Banshees defense that withstood the immense pressure from the Northern Lights who had plenty of kicks inside 50, but they were unable to capitalize with goals. The Banshees were able to boot through the one and only major of the final quarter via Colleen Quinn who was able to kick an easy goal from the goal square after the ball bounced kindly for her.
In the dying minutes of the fourth quarter the Banshees were barely holding on with the Northern Lights with all of the attacking play in their forward half. Fortunately, for the Banshees the Northern Lights were not clean with their ball use and that was the difference in the end, as when it mattered in the final term the Banshees were able to use the ball more effectively. Therefore the Banshees were able to secure and win their second International Grand Final over a brave Northern Lights outfit by 4 points. The standout player for the Northern Lights was Aimee Legault the Captain and Carol Breen for the Banshees was the best player of the match.
This Grand Final did not disappoint as it ended in a thriller and was a great spectacle of Women’s international footy. At each quarter break only less than half a goal separated each of the teams and the Northern Lights held onto a narrow lead at the end of the first three quarters, but the Alfa Ireland Banshees were in front on the scoreboard when it mattered on the final siren to hold on and win.