Report from the Feile na nÓg
Saturday in Ballyboden:
Our journey started on Saturday morning in Ballyboden with our first group game against Clanna Gael. We knew that a good start was required and we got that with 3 goals on the board in the first 10 minute and playing against a very strong breeze. Our midfield of Andrew Roe (captain) and Daragh McLoughney got in control and with Danny Taaffe at centre forward and Sean ‘Giddy’ Guiden on fire we were well on top. Our clinical full forward line of Conor Hoyne and Niall Smyth were delivered a supply of great ball and they used it well. With a good lead and the wind we could focus on keeping our shape and letting them pick off the odd point and we cruised home by 5-06 to 1-04. First job done.
Our second game was against the hosts, Ballyboden. This was a tighter affair but we always had our noses in front and even a goal for them from a penalty didn’t cause us panic. They threw everything at us but a long ball out of defence fell to the right man, Sean McCabe and he finished to the net to see us home by 2-08 to 1-03. Our defence was excellent, the full back line of Peirce Clyne, Jack Boyne and Euan Farquarson were immense. Sean Gibson is an incredibly intelligent footballer and reading the game from right half back he swept up and made some great runs forward, he always finishes with at least one score. Josh Reid played in an unfamiliar forward role and managed to get on some important balls when we needed it.
Having won our first two games we now knew we would top our group regardless of what happened in the third matches so we took the opportunity to rest a few players against Kilmacud Crokes. Notwithstanding that we took the game to them and with U13 Alex Smith getting his first goal for us we ran out winners by 2-08 to 2-02. Even our goalkeeper, Simon Murphy got in on the act with 2 monstrous points. Odran Monaghan showed he could hold down a midfield spot with a great all action display, while our second U13, Mick Shalloe, showed what a fine footballer he is. David Deneher, arriving late got in on the act too with a couple of great scores from distance, while Shane O’Neill worked hard up and down his wing.
Not only was our job done for the day with a 100% record, we managed to get all players in our 21 man squad pitch time in all 3 games. Word came through that Skerries would be travelling to play us on the Sunday morning, we didn’t need any more motivation to win that game.
Sunday in Ballyboden:
The Skerries match was a very tight affair and while we went ahead early, we never managed to pull too far away from them. A black card to our inspirational half back, Josh Bannon, with 10 minutes to go looked like swinging the momentum back to them but Eoghan Buckley, switched back from half forward was immense coming out on ball after ball. Cian Grassick, who had been injured for the Saturday games came on and ran hard at them late in the game. A late score by Daragh McLoughney put us 2 up and while they pointed with the last kick of the game, we ran out deserved winners. Initially we had heard that Clanna Gael were to be our opponents in the final but then we heard Whitehall had come back to win the game and would be our rivals in Parnell Park.
Parnell Park – The Final
We started very well, going a goal and 2 points up quickly and playing the fast, running football we love to. However, the nerves were obviously having an impact as we made a few wrong decisions when it possession which cost us dearly. Half time we were 2-02 to 2-03 behind and losing momentum. Whitehalls big, tall players managed to wrestle control of the game and while we owned the ball for the last 10 minutes and had a couple of really good goal chances, we just didn’t have the composure and legs to get us over the line. One player stood out above all in the Final, Aaron Coleman at centre back has been having a fine season and he had a great tournament but he was exceptional in that second half. He stood up and carried the game to them and it was a pity his performance was not rewarded with a winners medal.
So the journey ended in disappointment. Well done to Whitehall, they are a great group of mentors and players and we get on very well with them, while sad ourselves we were happy that if we were not to win it then they did.
Thanks to Ballyboden who were superb hosts.
Thanks to all the parents who gave great support and encouragement, Eddie McLoughney and Liam Bannon were brilliant umpires.
Thanks to the club for all the support and encouragement.
Thanks to the players from our other panels who push us in training every week and make us better.
Finally, thanks to the players who gave every ounce they had in their bodies over the 2 days and in 5 matches it was only one 10 minute spell where they were not the best team. The ultimate compliment was paid to them by the Ballyboden organiser, he told us that they were a credit to themselves and their parents with the behaviour and manners and they were the best U14 team he has seen in many a year! Lots of regrets but we are now going to channel that to retain our Division 1 League title. Like the U14 hurlers we now qualify to represent Dublin in the All Ireland Feiles, a great achievement and reward for the hard work.
Niall, Pat, Eoin, Paul and Ernie