Two long range strikes from Emma Harpur and a cracking finish from Emma Fee was enough to see off lack lustre league champions Carnmoney in the Division 2 League Cup final at Moyola Park.
The first 10 minutes of the game was a quiet affair, with both teams battling for possession of the ball and ensuring they made no costly mistakes. However, it was Killen who managed to get the ball down and string passes together to put Carnmoney under some early pressure.
On 11 minutes, Killen played 4 or 5 passes around midfield, when Emma Harpur received the ball and hit a low shot towards the net. Carnmoney goalkeeper Kirsten Morrison dived down and managed to get a hand to it, but she couldn't parry it wide enough, and it nestled just inside the post to give Killen an early lead.
The goal seemed to give Killen a lot of confidence, and they started playing with a lot more freedom, passing weel and creating some good chances. They could have doubled their lead 4 minutes later when some good passing lead to Emma Fee hitting a first time curling side foot from 15 yards out, but it landed safely in the arms of Morrison.
Killen were first to every ball in the first half, and the defence were making it very difficult for Carnmoney the normally lethal Carnmoney attack to get a foothold in the game. They got there rewards after 25 minutes, when Fee produced a sensational finish and blasted a shot into the top corner from 18 yards when wide of the goal to give Killen a deserved 2-0 lead.
Carnmoney seemed to be further demoralised by the second goal. Every time they received the ball they were trying to hit a long pass over the defence for the usually lethal Hollie Johnston to run on to, but every time outstanding centre back Chanelle Daragh, a recent call up to the Northern Ireland youth set up, was there to block or clear the ball.
It took Carnmoney until one minute into added time in the first half to string more than three together, after which a ball was hit over the top for Kathleen Barnes to chase. Killen keeper Natalie Aiken, who had so far touched the ball once for a goal kick, came out to collect the ball, and got there first, but didn't get her handling quite right and had to palm the ball away while lying on the floor. It fell to Carnmoney forward Lauren Moore, who finished into the open net with her teams first shot on target to bring the score to 2-1 at the break.
Killen started the second half as the better team, and created a few long range chances. On 54 minutes they should have scored again when Emma Fee smashed another shot towrds goal, and the keeper could only parry into the path of striker Chelsea Sheerin, but her side footed effort went wide of the open goal from 4 yards.
The came close again after 59 minutes when Emma Harpur, who was single handedly running things in midfield picked the ball up from deep and ran 30 yards past three players before hitting a dipping shot that crashed off the bar and away to safety.
Despite the one sided nature of the game, Carnmoney were in a situation where they could level things up if they got one good chance. This chance came on 75 minutes, when Hollie Johnston did mange to power past the defence and hit a shot towards the bottom corner, however Aiken produced a fantastic save to get down low and tip the ball wide.
This was to be the last time that Carnmoney had a clear sight of the Killen goal. For the last 15 minutes the ball was in the Carnmoney half, with Harpur going close twice and Louise Cooke slicing a shot wide from a tight angle when clean through.
The pressure paid off in the end when Killen got their third goal, Harpur again making a 20 yard run, beating two players and hitting a powerful shot in from outside the box to seal the win. This was the last noteworthy action of the game, as two minutes later the referee blew the full time whistle to give Killen their first piece of silverware of the season.
Manager Jason Aiken was very pleased with the win, but conceded his team made hard work of the match. “Despite being the better team throughout the match, we could have lost it if their striker had have scored her chance at 2-1. It could have been a different story then.”
Carnmoney, while poor tonight, showed impressive form throughout the season, and will have to content themselves with the league title, and automatic promotion. Second placed Killen, meanwhile, still have one more important game to finish their season, a play off with Downpatrick, with the winners playing in Division 1 next season.
Report & Photographs : Ben Hanna