Arklow Geraldines Ballymoney GAA Club

Arklow Geraldines Ballymoney GAA Club

U14 – Division 1 – Leinster Champions

AGB Ladies Juvenile GAA club achieved their greatest success to date, in their five years existence, on Saturday last, when they triumphed in the Leinster U14 Feile Competition. The team were competing in Division 1 of the competition against the established powerhouses of Ladies football including Ballyboden St Endas & Kilmacud Crokes of Dublin and Broadmills of Meath and Sarsfields , Naas, Ballyna and Eadenstown of Kildare.

The competition was played in Sarsfield’s grounds in Newbridge in a one day knock-out event. The Arklow team would have been considered as outsiders in such company. However given the excellent performances by the Wicklow U14 Ladies Team – a team backboned by 8 of the Arklow players- the Arklow mentors and supporters would have travelled with a certain amount of confidence.

Arklow’s first game was against Naas and in the first half Arklow struggled to find their rhythm. However they reached half time leading by 2-4 to 0-3. The score could have been even closer but for the good performance by newly deployed goalkeeper Megan O’Brien and corner back Sarannah Kavanagh and the magnificent Hannah Tew. Up front Arklow were heavily reliant on the performance of Kayleigh Crammond who contributed 2-1 and captain Aife Kavanagh contributing the other three points. Matters improved somewhat in the second half with Shauna Fleming storming into the match at mid-field and right corner forward Erinne Murphy bursting into life. Murphy contributed 1-3 in the second half and Arklow ran out winners on a score line of 4-10 to 1-4.

Arklow’s second match was against Eadenstown and once again the team disappointed in the opening minutes with Eadenstown racing into a 2-1 to 0-1 lead. Arklow again settled with solid play from Michelle Forde and Hannah Tew in defence and Arklow took a half time lead of 5-3 to 2-2 with two goals each from Crammond and Kavanagh and a goal from Erinne Murphy. Arklow introduced a number of substitutes at half time including Joy O’Brien, Isabelle Geoghegan, Danny Kaye and Paula Maher and saw the game out in the second half without conceding any scores and scoring a further 1-4 themselves to leave the final score line AGB 6-7 to Eadenstown 2-2.

Arklow’s opponents in the semi-final of the competition was Ballyboden St Endas – the current U14 champions of Dublin. This turned out to be a Titanic encounter. Arklow, playing against a stiff breeze in the first half reached half time trailing by 1 point on a score line of 1-2 to 1-1. Arklow’s goal was scored by Erinne Murphy and the point by Aife Kavanagh. Arklow were very much in the ascendancy in the second half and went in front without however putting a substantial difference on the scoreboard. Arklow’s scoring difficulties arose from a combination of excellent defence by Ballyboden and poor decision making by their forwards and also very bad luck – Arklow hit the crossbar three times in the second half. Midway through the half Aife Kavanagh landed a superb goal from play but this was quickly followed by a similar response from Ballyboden. Arklow added three further points from play to Ballyboden’s single point leaving Arklow 1 point up with time almost up. Ballyboden were then awarded a free some 30 yards out from goal which they dispatched with the last kick of the game forcing extra time. Ballyboden pressed very strongly in the 1st period of extra time but met with resolute defence led by Hannah Tew, Emma Marshall, Calvin Swart and Vivienne Walsh. With minutes to go in the period Kayleigh Crammond led and Arklow counter attack with a superb solo run up the field with her pass finding Erinne Murphy in space and she buried the ball in the back of the net. The last five minutes of extra time was all Arklow’s as they pressed with a further point from Kayleigh Crammond and Aife Kavanagh. Arklow ran out winners on a score line of 3-6 to 2-4 after a thrilling and exciting encounter.

The final took place in Kildare County Grounds in Newbridge and Arklow’s opponents were Naas. Arklow played against the breeze in the first half and the game was played at a blistering pace considering Arklow had already played 1hour and 40 minutes of football up to that point. Arklow opened the scoring with a goal from full forward Erinne Murphy. Naas responded in kind and added a further two points to lead after 5 minutes. But Kayleigh Crammond skipped in with a further goal and Erinne Murphy a point with Arklow leading at half time by two points. Jessica Hurley had a slow start with the opening matches but with her confidence soaring she made a valuable contribution to this final match of the day.

With the breeze behind them in the second half Arklow upped the tempo and the half back line of Calvin Swart, Emma Marshall and Sarannah Kavanagh together with full back Hannah Tew formed a barrier across the pitch that Naas only rarely managed to penetrate. Naomi Roche put her county experience well to use and together with Shauna Fleming lording at mid-field and centre forward Aife Kavanagh pulling the strings at centre forward, Arklow created numerous chances. Kayleigh Crammond added a further 2-1 to complete a hat trick of goals and Erinne Murphy 1-1 to allow Arklow to run out winners on a score line of 5-3 to 1-2.

Captain Aife Kavanagh collected the trophy amid great joy and delight. This was a great
performance by the Arklow players. It is a tremendous achievement to compete so successfully at the top level of ladies football. Every member of the squad has shown great diligence and attitude towards training and they all deserve the rewards of this victory. In order to win the competition it was necessary for each member of the team to make a telling contribution particularly in the epic semi-final encounter. The team will now look forward eagerly to the National Feile Competition to be held in Cavan from the 4th to the 6th of July.

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