Training continues on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5.15p.m. in preparation for the Town League.
This Thursday we are away to Abbeydorney in the North Kerry League, Division 1. Best of luck to the girls and their coaches.
U15 CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL
Kerins O’Rahillys 3-08 Killarney Legion 3-06
Our U15 Girls played Legion in the Championship Final on Sunday last in Firies GAA Pitch. This team is a combination of U14 and U16 girls who are still U15. Both teams have trained very well since last February with both teams reaching their respective finals in their County league divisions so we knew we had quality footballers and a really good chance to do well in this, so we took a decision to combine both sets of coaches under the management of Tricia Moran for both the U15 and U17 Championships.
The training was racked up for the summer months with the girls who were available and you could see both the fitness and skill levels improving all the time. We had challenge games where we took on teams in higher divisions. We improved and learned in every game we played, plus every player involved got game time leading up to this final. It’s not a given you win by putting in all that effort but we firmly believed in this team’s ability to win this tournament and most importantly they believed they could win it.
We had attended Legion’s semi-final so we knew they had quality footballers in all parts of the field. They were physically strong and had really good ball carriers throughout the team, especially down the middle. They were well coached with a good game plan which was evident in the early part of this game, where they operated a sweeper who moved from corner forward to cover in front of their back three to curb our inside forward line, while also creating an extra player for all their kick outs. This did work very well for them in the opening quarter of this game where they held our forwards and raced into a three-point lead. We took note and then changed tack where we began to carry the ball into the danger areas rather than kicking it which had immediate impact with points from Katie Nix, Kate Kerins and Aoibhín MacCarthy. All three were performing well along with Lia Mclysaght, Sophie Hassett and Jennifer Murphy were under tight pressure marking a very tough well coached back line.
Our own backs were also performing really well, both defending from the front foot like their lives depended on it and attacking at every chance. They were led by Hollie Leane who was tremendous in this game and in the tournament generally, along with Kelly Fitzgerald who has been outstanding in goals all year and made three unbelievable saves in the first half of this game, along with delivering outstanding kick outs to our midfielders. They were ably assisted by Eugenie Kerins (Captain), Lilly O Brien and Lauren Doody who were all marking a really good forward line. Siúna Crowe had a tough day on their best player but performed well. Because of the sweeper system in play, Rachel Foley spent large parts of this game on her own sweeping in front of our back line which she did really well. Our midfielders, Keelan Coffey and Rachael O’ Donnell have met some very good footballers this year and they were outstanding again in this game against serious opposition. Their running into space, movement, ball-catching and delivery was really good from start to finish and they never stopped driving forward when in possession and then harassing when we didn’t have the ball. Legion were very good at breaking from defence quickly and in the second quarter added a goal and a point to bring their tally to 1-04. But with five minutes to go in the first half we began to get on top and Sophie Hassett struck for a great individual goal which the goalkeeper saved on her first attempt but she followed through on the rebound to bury it and this gave us a serious boost. Aoibhín added another point for the sides to be level at half time at 1-04 each.
Both teams really needed half time to come as this was a very fast-moving game where we on the sideline had to make switches and changes very quickly to keep up with the pace of the game. We were now level with 30 minutes to go and this team knew they had a serious chance of winning this game. The coaches never stopped believing we could win it, including Tricia who had given an emotional team talk by phone from Spain before the game and the team really knew how much this meant to her and everyone in the club. Credit to Legion, they came out of the blocks really quickly in the third quarter of this game, scoring two goals and a point to leave us seven behind with 20 minutes to go. We then began to make changes by bringing on Eadrea Hayes, Isobel and Ella O’ Connor who would all have an impact on this game and that’s what a good panel is for.
We chipped away with further points from Sophie Hassett, Katie Nix and two outstanding frees from Aoibhín under serious pressure. We also knew on the line that we had trained for situations where we got these players to kick frees from all sides of the goal under pressure so we were really confident in their ability and we had also gone through every change we were likely to make if we found ourselves four points down with minutes to go in a county final. With minutes to go we were 3 -06 to 1-08 down and we needed something magical to happen. Enter Kelly Fitzgerald into the fray from goals with the blue jersey already on underneath her goalkeeper jersey and ready to go as planned. She just threw the keeper’s jersey over to one of the backs and with the win for Legion seemingly now only minutes away, they could not have foreseen what was about to happen next.
They had visibly retreated back in front of their own goals and now had 13 behind the ball. Kelly took off on a number of attacks through the middle of their defence that would see a resurgence in belief on the field, on the sideline and in the stands with our great parents and supporters now on their feet roaring encouragement for this team. With a minute to go a ball broke near their goals and Rachael O’ Donnell pulled on it, burying it into the back of the net to bring the margin to one point. Rachael has done this before and has a talent for seizing on last minute opportunities – and she wasn’t done yet. Their keeper didn’t delay and kicked a high ball back out which bounced and stayed in the air for what seemed like an eternity. When it dropped, Isobel O’Connor contested and won it between two Legion players, one of whom fouled her. Without waiting, she kicked a fast, low ball to Rachael O’ Donnell on the wing, who then swivelled around the defender and from 25 meters out sent this high ball over everyone into the Legion square. Kelly Fitzgerald then did something that neither her Dad, the team coaches or anyone else in Strand Road could coach her to do. If she contested the ball with the keeper then it was most likely a free out but she didn’t contest the ball but ran in front of their keeper, un-sighting her, which led to the ball bouncing in over their goalkeeper into the roof of the net. With parents and supporters in the stands now going delirious, the ball was kicked out and the final whistle blew. We had all seen something which we might never again see in a team who would simply not give up right to the final whistle. They had pulled off an unbelievable win, having never been ahead in this game for 59 minutes and 50 seconds and led with only 10 seconds to go, the most important ten seconds of the game!
To say we are all so proud and thrilled at what they have achieved would be putting it mildly. This is the first Championship that the ladies club has won in over 10 years and the first for the club generally in a while. There is no one player to pick out in particular as this was a full panel effort since last February and especially over the past few months, but we had some serious performances from individual players throughout this tournament. They are all stars and some no doubt will go on to county level. This was the biggest game these girls will have ever played at club level and on these occasions it’s important to say special thanks to a few people. Thanks to the coaches who have trained these girls from a very young age up along, to their parents who bring them down to us and are there to lend their advice as well if we need it. To Tricia, Katie, Danny, Paddy and Con for the efforts put in all through the year and especially over the summer months training and preparing this team and a big thank you to Shirley Doody who does so much work behind the scenes looking after both players and coaches in the ladies club and without whom we simply would not have a ladies Club in Kerins O’Rahillys. This team will hopefully take their place on the clubhouse wall as a Championship-winning side and it will be something that they and their families can look back on with pride for many years to come.
The North Kerry League commences the week after next. Training resumes next Thursday as we take a break for the Festival.
Texts will be sent with training times in preparation for U17 Championship which commences shortly.
Training continues on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Our next game is away to John Mitchels in the North Kerry League – awaiting confirmation of game.
BACK TO SCHOOL
Best wishes to everyone on their new school year. Some of you may be starting secondary or college, while others are moving class in their old school. May it be everything you hope for and more. Most importantly, enjoy your school years. They are the best years of our lives.
GIRLS DAY OUT
Last Thursday afternoon the girls had their day out in Castlegregory. They had great fun surfing and doing other water activities and had a bite to eat afterwards. Thanks to everyone who helped out.