It took some time for the Shels girls to acclimastise to the heat, hard ground conditions and consequently the pace of the ball. Their first game against Quatar was a much closer game than the final scoreline would suggest. Shels led by 1-1 to 1.0 at half time with all their scores coming courtesy of Mary Rose Kelly. Shels had to thank some good defensive play by Mag Doherty in goal, Lisa and Maeve Quill and Fiona Cullen to have kept them in the game. However the Quatar girls missed sever scoring chances and should have been leading at the break . Shels opened up more in the second half and courtesy of scores from Leona Tector 1-2, and a goal apiece from Sharon Kehoe and Naomi Fogarty after good approach work from Patricia McCormack, they ran out winners by 4-3 to 2-0.
Their next game was against Abu Dhabi who were the eventual shield winners. The tournament organisers gave the Shels team Rachel Versolenko of Russia, Jessiaca Dzierzak of Poland and Canadian girl Ailicia Tanner for their remaining group games to bring their panel up to 12. Shels were leading at half time by 0-2 to 0-1 courtesy of Maeve Quill and Sharon Kehoe. Leona Tector with a second half goal and a Maeve Quill point saw the Wexford girls emerge victorious by
1-3 to 0-1.
The final Group game was against the Arabian Celts. The Shels team used the opportunity to play their three guest players and led at the interval by 0-3 to 0-0 courtesy of points from Fiona Cullen, Naomi Fogarty and Mag Doherty. Further second half points from Mag Doherty and a brace from Ailicia Tanner secured a 0-6 to 0-0 win and qualification for the semi finals on Saturday.
The semi finals saw Shelmaliers V Sharjah who were many peoples favourites to win it out and Dubai Celts V Singapore. Shels played the two smallest but pacy players Sharon Kehoe and Maeve Quill in midfield and started with a purpose and intent that was not evident in their previous games. Leona Tector carried the ball right from the back to smash the ball into the net in the opening minute. Mary Rose Kelly quickly added a point before Patricia McCormack finished off an attacking move with a well taken goal. Mary Rose Kelly and Leona Tector were dominant in the air with Maeve Quill and Sharon Kehoe picking up breaking ball ensured that Sharjah were kept on the back foot. Fiona Cullen and Lisa Quill provided good cover for Mag Doherty to keep the hitherto rampant Sharjah team scoreless in the first half. Naomi Fogarty and Patricia McCormack laid off good ball for Sharon Kehoe bursting through from midfield to finish off two well taken points and Leona Tector completed the first half scoring when joining the attack from her defensive position to fire over to leave the half time score Shels 2-4 Sharjah 0-0.
Sharjah who several county players from Ireland in their midst came out with all guns blazing for the second half. However they found it difficult to breakdown the hard working Shelmalier defensive cover and workrate and had to rely on a goal from Limerick’s Betty Nash half ways through the half to give them hope of a recovery. Sharjah added a further point just before the final whistle to leave Shelmalier winners by 2-4 to 1-1. The Shels girls were well pleased with their victory such was the strength of their opponents in the 30 degree heat and the fact that they had no substitutes.
The second semi final saw the local team Dubai Celts who also had a number of players with intercounty experience overcome Singapore , who had beaten them in the Asian finals a few months ago, to set up a final meeting with Shelmaliers. With a 5 o’clock throw in though hot, there was not the intense heat as had been there for the semi finals. The finals were watched by a huge crowd in the expectation of a thriller and they were not disappointed.
Shelmalier lined out as they had for the semi finals and were quickly into their stride with three excellent points from Maeve Quill, Leona Tector and Mary Rose Kelly. However Dubai Celts hit back with 1-4 without reply to lead 1-4 to 0-3 at the interval. The Shels mentors swapped Mary Rose Kelly and Leona Tector for the second half, a switch that was to have a telling effect on the game. Tector added four points to tie up the score midways through the second half before Dubai Celts regained the lead with a point. As Leona teed up to take a free for the equalising score, Mary Rose made a run from her defensive position to collect Tectors perfectly flighted pass, and using her strength to shake off the tackle, fired a low ball into the bottom left corner of the net to give the Shels girls a two point lead. The Celts closed the gap to the minimum, before Tector added her sixth and final score of the game to run out winners amid joyous scenes on a 1-8 to 1-6 scoreline. Both teams got a standing ovation as they came off the field. The cup was presented to the winning captain Leona Tector by Donal McCarthy and Ambassador Brendan …. Leona Tector also won the Player of the Tournament award.
It was a great team victory with every player playing a huge effort in ensuring victory amid the intense heat, quality opposition and no substitutes apart from the two group games. It was a credit to the local organising committee such was the number of teams, the standard of play. They deserve immense credit for keeping Gaelic Game alive in the Gulf Region. Such has been their success that they have managed to increase the tournament to 9 A Side form previously 7 A Side.
The Shelmalier team for the final was:
Mag Doherty, Lisa Quill, Leona Tector, Fiona Cullen, Sharon Kehoe, Maeve Quill, Patricia McCormack, Mary Rose Kelly, Naomi Fogarty.
Team Management: Pat Quill, Peter Rice, Liz Quill, Wayne Duggan, David O’Connor
The Shels girls also entered the camogie tournament on the Friday after playing the football. They were defeated by Dubai Celts A 2-3 to 1-0 with Leona Tector the goal scorer before defeating Dubai Celts B 5-2 to 0-0 with scores coming from Holly Murphy 2-0, Laura Walsh 1-1, Leona Tector 1-0, Mag Doherty 1-0 and Maeve Quill 0-1. They were in the Shield final on Saturday V Dubai Celts B who they defeated the previous day, but because of the Shels girls reluctance to play the camogie shield final before the football championship final V Dubai Celts , the Dubai Celts B team were given a walkover.