Wicklow perform well in U-14 Blitz

U14 Ladies Leinster Division 1 Inter county Blitz

The Wicklow Ladies Under 14 team concluded their intercounty season when they participated in the Leinster Blitz in Carlow on Saturday 2nd August.

Wicklow were in Division 1 of the competition and were up against teams from Dublin, Laois, Kildare and Meath.  The team performed very well and with great endeavour and were unfortunate to lose to a stronger Meath team in the final. This was a very good achievement from the panel of players as a much depleted squad travelled to Carlow.  Due to holidays and other commitments management only had 16 players from the squad available and are grateful to the under 12 girls that travelled to make up the panel.  As a result management had to rely heavily on the AGB team that had recently won the All Ireland Feile Title.  However the step up to play intercounty teams was a considerable challenge.

Wicklow’s first match in the group stages was against Laois a team that had reached the All Ireland quarter finals earlier in the year.  Wicklow struggled in the opening half to contain the Laois team and at half time Laois led by 5 points to 1-1 –  both scored by Erinne Murphy.  In the second half Laois dominated play and added 4 points without reply.  As the game drew to a close good combination play from  Aife Kavanagh, Erinne Murphy and Kayleigh Crammond and Naomi Roche saw Wicklow exert pressure on the Laois backs and in the last minute Wicklow breached the Laois defence on two occasions to steal a last minute victory. The goals were scored by Keyleigh Crammond and Erinne Murphy.

Wicklow’s next match was against neighbours Dublin and this match was in complete contrast to the previous game.  In the first half they ran riot against Dublin with Aife Kavanagh scoring 1-4.  Due to bad luck Wicklow squandered numerous other chances and with one of their rare attacks Dublin managed to get a goal to leave Wicklow leaden 1-4 to 1-1 at half time.  Wicklow dropped deeper in the second half and appeared to be defending comfortably but conceded a soft goal and two points with less than 5 minutes to go.  Wicklow were now trailing by a point.  The team continued to exert pressure but a sequence of missed chances followed.  Wicklow were awarded a free on the 21 yard line and Wicklow captain Aife Kavanagh went for a goal and the chance went a begging. Wicklow lost by a point.

Wicklow’s third match was against Kildare.  Again Wicklow started the match in whirlwind fashion and completely dominated play.  At half time the forwards had discovered their scoring boots and Wicklow led by 9 points to 0-0 –  6 points from Aife Kavanagh, 2 points from Erinne Murphy and 1 point to Kayleigh Crammond.

After the start of the second half Aife Kavanagh added a further 1 point and when Kayleigh Crammond scored the first goal of the match it looked as if the game was over. However Wicklow lost the momentum and Kildare managed to get a stranglehold on the game.  Kildare scored 2-6 with a solitary goal from Jessie Hurley in reply.  At the final whistle Wicklow had 4 points to spare.

The competition structure allowed the two top teams to play off in the final.  At this stage Meath had won all their matches and they were aware that if they lost to Wicklow it would be Meath against Wicklow in the final and Laois and Dublin would be eliminated. A weakened Meath team took to the field for the final league match and Wicklow dominated throughout.  At half time the score was 4-4 to 1-0 in Wicklow’s favour with Erinne Murphy scoring 3-1, Kayleigh Crammond 1-0 and Aife Kavanagh 0-3.  In the second half Wicklow scored 2-3 to Meath’s response of 2-1. The final score was 6-6 to 3-1.

It may have seemed like a less than satisfactory victory but Wicklow could only play against the opposition provided and by reaching the final they had exceeded their expectations given the depleted nature of the squad.

The blitz final against Meath proved to be disappointing for the Wicklow players.  For a number of these players who have played their heart out for the county team this year this was to be their final endeavours for the under 14 team and despite some excellent performances against teams from the upper echelons of ladies football silverware has eluded them.

Wicklow started the game well and with 5 minutes gone raced into an early lead of 1-3 to 0-1.  However in the space of  2 minutes the game was turned around as the Meath wing half forward raced through to set up a goal and then scored 1-1 herself.  Wicklow steadied the ship and Aife Kavanagh added a point to leave Meath leading 2-2 to 1-4 at half time.  The second half was disappointing.  In fairness the girls had played 1 ½ hours football and whereas Meath had the luxury of resting players throughout the day particularly in the earlier game against Wicklow. Wicklow with the restricted panel did not. This proved decisive.  Wicklow was unable to contain the athleticism of the Meath players and were outplayed in the second half.  Meath ran in 4-2 without reply.  It was an unsatisfactory conclusion as Wicklow finished runners up again.  The team can take some level of comfort from the fact that they have shown that they can compete with the best in Leinster.  The panel contains 14 players who are eligible to play at this grade next year and the experience gained will be invaluable.  The remaining girls will move up to U16 and minor and will hopefully will continue their endeavours achievements at intercounty level.

The panel who attended is as follows: Noah O’Donoghue (St Pats) Orla O’Donoghue(St Pats), Anna Kelly (St Nicholas) Emma Byrne(St Nicholas), Ciera Callanan (Coolkenna). From Arklow Geraldines Ballymoney were :- Megan O’Brien, Michelle Forde, Hannah Tew, Naoise Baker, Vivienne Walsh, Calvin Swart, Naomi Roche, Shauna Fleming, Aine O’Reilly, Gemma Doyle, Aife Kavanagh, Katie Kindlon, Kayleigh Crammond, Erinne Murphy, Jessie Hurley, Georgina Canavan, Lauren Hayden, Beth Murphy, Cliona Byrne, Emma Marshall

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