Late points spark scenes of jubilation

Meath Ladies U-13 Division 2 Championship Final

Seneschalstown 0-05 St. Colmcilles 1-01

Having knocked on the door on numerous other occasions the Seneschalstown U-13 Girls finally broke it down on Saturday afternoon when eventually overcoming the stiff challenge of St. Colmcilles in the Division 2 Championship Final. The game was played out in a welter of excitement as both sides left everything out on the pitch as they played out an enthralling encounter.

If the cup was given out on the basis of possession held and chances created then Seneschalstown could have had it in their grasp long before the final whistle was sounded but for once their radar was slightly askew and they let numerous scoring opportunities go abegging. Nonetheless they never let their heads drop and throughout the match they continued to take a shot on if and when the chance presented itself.

The match got off to a slow enough start with both sides sussing the other out and it took until the seventh minute for the opening score to arrive. When it did it came from the boot of Seneschalstown’s ace forward Mallaidh Breen who having missed the U-14 Final between the two clubs back in May was determined to leave her mark on this encounter. By now Seneschalstown were beginning to get on top around the centre of the field with the impressive pairing of Caragh Monaghan and Lauren Donnelly laying a solid platform for their team.

St. Colmcilles were struggling to get the ball forward and when they did their ace attacker Alannah Boland was being expertly marked by Aoibhé Monaghan who was sticking to her like a limpet would to a rock. However it’s hard to fully close out a top forward and when she did get a sniff of a goal chance Boland gave Ava Jane Ryan no chance between the posts as her low shot hit the back of the net. Suddenly despite having the majority of possession the girls in blue found themselves two points in arrears.

The stylish Lauren Donnelly managed to narrow the gap back to a solitary point in the twentieth minute when bisecting the uprights but her score was soon cancelled out by a similar effort from St. Colmcilles. The Piltown outfit were beginning to grow into the game to a greater extent now and could have had two further green flags raised before the interval only for Ava Jane Ryan to pull off two impressive saves.

This left the half time score reading St. Colmcilles 1-01 Seneschalstown 0-02. Despite only registering two points in the half the girls from Yellow Furze were performing very well and in particular the half back axis of Zoe Kirwan, Lauren McCarthy and Aine Nangle were forming an impenetrable line of defence allied with the mightily impressive Sadhbh McLarney while up front Sinéad McLarney and Ella Kilfeather were causing the St. Colmcilles backs troublesome moments.

Upon the resumption Caragh Monaghan narrowed the gap between the teams to a solitary point when clipping over after twenty seven minutes but try as they might Seneschalstown couldn’t force another score in the regulation time. In the remaining twenty three minutes of the regulation fifty they dominated the possession and created a plethora of scoring chances but between a combination of excellence from the St. Colmcilles goalkeeper, the woodwork proving to be a formidable foe, brilliant defensive work by their defence and some wayward shooting they were unable to register another score.

Throughout all this time though St. Colmcilles always posed a formidable threat on the counter attack and indeed they could have notched a goal late on if it were not for a sublime one on one save from Robyn Murray who had earlier been sprung from the bench. Having been in very impressive form with the clubs U-11 side Robyn was drafted onto the panel for the final and when in the second half Ava Jane Ryan was required out the field Robyn was introduced between the sticks. When her moment arrived she proved her quality as advancing off her goal line to narrow the angle she got down smartly to pull off the save and when the ball broke loose right half back Zoe Kirwan was alert to the danger and diverted it wide of the post for a forty five.

On such big moments games can be won and lost and boosted by this turn of events Seneschalstown went back on the attack. With Orla Finnegan relentlessly driving her team on with piercing runs through the heart of the St. Colmcilles defence there was always an out ball for her team and if ever there was a player whose performance deserved a score it was her. Unfortunately for the flying wing forward no matter how hard she tried just couldn’t find that score. On the other wing Meath U-12 star Anna Wogan was also putting in a huge shift as she constantly offered herself in support of her teammates while scrapping relentlessly to prevent St. Colmcilles getting the ball out of defence. Allied to this Aisha Ogunyemi despite carrying a knee injury into the game made a huge contribution to the sides efforts in the second half following her introduction as she helped inspire her side to keep plugging away in search of the scores they required.

As the clock slipped into the red Seneschalstown somehow still found themselves a point in arrears but were still driving forward continuously in search of that equalising point. And when the moment called for a leader up stepped Caragh Monaghan to steer the levelling score over the crossbar with two minutes of injury time already elapsed. Momentum was now well and truly with the Seneschalstown girls and when just seconds later the midfielder got another opportunity she made no mistake as her shot went over the blackspot to huge acclaim from the massive band of supporters gathered on the sideline.

There was still a further two minutes of injury time to be played but there was to be no denying the Seneschalstown side who held firm to secure the victory. The vast majority of these girls have already secured Cumann na mBunscol glory with Kentstown NS and Yellow Furze NS but this was their first trophy to collect with their club and when the final whistle was sounded it sparked off scenes of total jubilation from everybody connected with the team.

Great credit for the performance must also go to the team management of George Donnelly, Caolac Monaghan and Martina Finnegan who had the side playing a fantastic brand of football as they looked to go on the offensive at every opportunity and displayed a fantastic range of passing ability. Credit must also go to St. Colmcilles who having won out In the U-14 Final back in May came heartbreakingly close to adding the U-13 crown to their collection. Both of these teams are a credit to their clubs and will no doubt both go on to have a great friendly rivalry for years to come as well as providing players of excellence to the Meath team.

Seneschalstown: Ava Jane Ryan, Aine Nangle, Sadhbh McLarney, Zoe Kirwan, Aoibhé Monaghan, Lauren McCarthy, Caragh Monaghan (0-03), Lauren Donnelly (0-01), Orla Finnegan, Mallaidh Breen (0-01), Anna Wogan, Sinéad McLarney, Ella Kilfeather.

Seneschalstown Substitutions: Aisha Ogunyemi for E Kilfeather, Robyn Murray for S. McLarney, Niamh Trainor, Ava Lyons, Zoe Ryan, Emily Navagh-Burke and Caoimhe Dunne.

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