McGuinness blasts Linfield to League Title Glory

Posted : 21st July 2016 at 01:26:57

Linfield won 4-0 against Cliftonville on MD11 of the Danske Bank NIFL premiership at Rathmore grammar school 3G pitch in Dunmurry on Wednesday night.

Second half goals from Kirsty McGuinness (3) and Amber Dempster sealed a hard fought but enjoyable win.

The win meant that Linfield Ladies were the inaugural Danske Bank NIFL League Champions for the 2016 season.

The team line up was

1 - Nicole Adams

7 - Chelsea Myles

3 - Hannah Doherty

25 - Jennifer McDade

4 - Ashley Hutton

6 - Sarah Venney (c)

18 - Clare Timoney

2 - Lyndsay Corry

9 - Jessica Doran

11 - Kirsty McGuinness

15 - Amber Dempster

Subs

20 - Lauren Robson - replaced Jessica Doran

12 - Megan Bell - replaced Amber Dempster

8 - Danielle Ennis - replaced Clare Timoney

4 - Sarah Haddock

16 - Louise McFrederick

In the opening 45 minutes second placed Cliftonville, the only team that could still catch Linfield mathematically in the league table, were probably the better team and certainly their display in the opening half was probably the toughest opposition that Linfield had faced so far this season.

It was a tense, competitive game with a lot at stake and on 13 minutes Kirsty McGuinness drilled in a low left wing cross that Amber Dempster couldn't control properly and the ball was gathered by a grateful visiting keeper.

Cliftonville, needing a win to prolong their title hopes, came close to opening the score on 20 minutes when the dangerous Billie Simpson crashed a free kick against the cross bar from 30 yards and a shaken home defence scrambled the loose ball clear.

2 minutes later the visitors came close again. Senior international Marissa Callaghan pulled her shot from the edge of the box just wide of the far post.

Linfield responded to this positive opening by a talented Reds team and on 24 minutes a glancing McGuinness header released strike partner Dempster but her shot was just over the advancing keeper - and the crossbar.

A dangerous left wing cross by Hannah Doherty on 27 minutes was sliced centimetres over her own bar by former Linfield defender Teri Moore.

On 31 minutes Amber Dempster was sent clear but she was taken down outside the box by the advancing keeper, just as the ball was lobbed towards goal but unfortunately went agonisingly inches just over the bar, with the keeper yellow carded for the foul.

The resultant free kick by McGuinness was destined for the top corner of the net - until the impressive visiting keeper produced a great save to finger tip the effort over the bar.

Cliftonville finished the half strongly with Linfield keeper Nicole Adams in fine form, handling the ball confidently, while under pressure.

Half time - a nervy Linfield 0 Cliftonville 0

Lauren Robson was a half time sub for Jessica Doran.

2 minutes after the restart Kirsty McGuinness fired Linfield ahead. A low right wing cross found Dempster in space in a good position and she squared the ball for McGuinness to pass the ball into the corner of the net.

Hannah Doherty fired over on 53 minutes and in the 61st minute Linfield came close again. A low right wing Dempster cross was directed goalwards by Clare Timoney but her close range effort was deflected behind for a corner.

It was a different second half display by Linfield who took control of the game and pushed the visitors back. In the 63rd minute live wire McGuinness cut inside and curled a left foot shot towards the top corner, only for the Reds keeper to produce another great save in pushing the ball behind for a corner. The resultant corner was headed just over the bar by Lyndsay Corry.

Linfield went in search of the crucial second goal and in the 65th minute a low right wing cross from the byline by Clare Timoney was well gathered by the keeper, just as onrushing forwards were about to pounce. A minute later a Hannah Doherty free kick from outside the box went just the wrong side of the cross bar.

Linfield got the all important second goal on 70 minutes. Amber Dempster broke on the right and from a wide angle she speared a ferocious shot into the back of the net to spark joyous celebrations.

It was hard working Dempster's last contribution, as she was replaced in the 73rd minute by young Megan Bell.

Cliftonville came agonisingly close to pulling a goal back in the 75th minute. A low left wing Callaghan cross bounced off a Linfield defender and off the post, before being pounced on by a grateful Nicole Adams in the Linfield goal.

It was Linfield's night.

It was 3-0 on 76 minutes. Lauren Robson provided the assist for McGuinness to fire home her second and Linfield's third on a historic night.

McGuinness sealed her hat trick and Linfield's 4th with an exquisite free kick from outside the box which nestled in the top corner of the net in the 78th minute.

A minute later Danielle Ennis replaced Clare Timoney.

The final whistle sparked joyous celebrations - Linfield were Premier League champions.

Further analysis and tributes will follow on Linfieldfc.com in the coming days.

Look out for UTV coverage of the league champions on Sunday tea time.

Player of the Match - the one and only Kirsty McGuinness

Final score - an impressive Linfield 4 Cliftonville 0

Congratulations to the 2016 Danske Bank NIFL Premier league champions.
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