Ladies Football National Feile 2018
|Our U14 Ladies had a great weekend at National Feile bowing out in S/F of Division 1 Cup.
On a sunny Sunday afternoon at Burren GAA club near Warrenpont our U14 ladies football National Feile adventure finally came to an end as they bowed out to the eventual winners of the Division 1 Cup competition Éire Óg in the Semi-Final. This journey had started before Christmas when all of the U14 girls started fund raising for their Feile kit with bag packing and fun run alongside generous sponsorship. When April came, the competition was curtailed due to waterlogged pitches and so only teams competing in divisions which led to National Feile went ahead. Our A’s and B’s progressed to their respective finals in divisions 1 and 5 with the A team winning out against FoxCab and so earning a place in the National Feile in June.
Day 1 National Feile
So fast forward 2 months from the waterlogged pitches in April to the heatwave of June and our girls boarded the bus at the clubhouse on their journey to Belfast where they were to be hosted by Bredagh GAA club. Following an itinerary that was meticulously organised, the girls first stopped off on the way at the Carrickdale hotel for lunch. The girls started to take in the scale of the tournament that they were entering when they saw the number of tables set out for different travelling teams in the ball room. The girl’s team from New York were in the same hotel and after a couple of minutes eyeing each other up, the first conversation was started and then both sets of girls mingled like old friends. Once the photos were taken, and Snapchat names exchanged, our girls boarded the bus in order to stay on schedule and headed for Belfast.
The next stop was where the girls met with their host families from Bredagh GAA club as our team was welcomed with food for children and adults alike. Any nerves that our girls might have had, quickly disappeared when the girls met their hosts. After a few minutes, the girls were referring to their new mom and planning what to do later with their new host friend from the Bredagh team.
Finally it was time to begin the action at Carryduff GAA club. This was the first of 4 venues visited in County Down over the weekend and it was great to see such fabulous facilities with impeccable organisation for the competition. First up for our girls was local team Carryduff and our girls started well with an early goal and point to settle things down. However with Carryduff then getting a couple a goals of their own coupled with some injuries to our girls, suddenly things looked a bit shaky! However, as always, our girls responded to the challenge with a commanding second half to come out on top by a score of 5-9 to 2-2.
Match 1: Ballyboden 5-9 Carryduff 2-2
Scorers: Kate: 1-6(1f), Hannah 2-2; Aine 1-0; Clodagh 1-0; Sarah G 0-1
Next up for our girls was Westmeath champions Killucan. The team retreated to find some shade in the Baking evening heat and the ever helpful David Rafter came up trumps with a gazebo to keep the girls cool. The Killucan team was strong and the match was tight from start to finish. First Boden took the lead with a couple of early points but then Killucan responded with a goal to take the lead themselves. A goal just before half-time for Boden gave our girls the lead and time to regroup for the second half. The second half was tight and competitive – the chances for Boden were not being converted whereas Killucan took 3 points and all of a sudden they were in the lead in injury time. Again though these girls showed their mettle and converted the last kick to force a draw
Match 2: Ballyboden 1-3 Killucan 1-3
Scorers: Aine 1-0, Kate 0-2(1f); Clodagh 0-1
So at the end of day 1, a satisfactory start, a little disappointed not to convert their chances but still a good start. The girls headed back to Bredagh to meet with their host families where they would stay for the night. As a sign of the dedication of these girls, in order to make sure that they got a good rest and also to make sure that they interacted well with their hosts, they willingly handed in their phones for the night and headed off to their new homes. The parents were left then to figure out where to get food in Belfast after 9 o’clock but all was sorted and the families sat down together to review the day’s events.
Day 2 National Feile
With the group permutations analysed over breakfast and figuring out that we probably needed to not concede much in our final group game if we wanted to progress as group winners, the coaches headed off to meet up with the girls at Bredagh’s pitches at Cherryvale. There were tears in the girls’ eyes as they were reunited with their
parents phones and after catching up on world events for a few minutes they got their game faces on and prepared to take on their host team Bredagh.
The Bredagh girls fought hard but the Boden girls were buoyed by the return of Caoimhe from injury and also the arrival of Laura who had dashed from singing at her Aunt’s wedding the previous day in the West of Galway to join up with her team mates. Our girls were strong throughout from the start and most importantly strong defensively in an effort to win the group.
Match 3: Ballyboden 7-7 Bredagh 0-0
Scorers: Kate: 2-3(1f), Aine 2-1(1f); Caoimhe 1-2; Hannah 1-1; Leah 1-0(1p)
After spending some more time with the hosts Bredagh and with photos taken together, our gang boarded the bus to head onto the next destination, Saval GAA club near Newry. News came in that our tight defensive effort had put us ahead in the group leaving us a Quarter Final against Cavan champions Crosserlough.
Next stop on the itinerary was a lunch in Newry and with a little time to kill, the girls were let loose on the shops for an hour before heading for Saval GAA club. At this stage and at this venue, the temperatures seemed to reach their peak with tropical like conditions and grass nearly burning from the sun. At this stage it was noticeable that the competition was moving up a level with a great atmosphere, boys and girls teams buzzing around preparing for their quarter finals, tears from players coming off whose journey had ended.
There was a nervous anticipation when our team lined up to play their quarter final. The first couple of minutes saw a couple of close calls for our girls but then they settled down and started to play some neat football. The determination shown by all was impressive against their strong Cavan opposition and they kept the scoreboard ticking over to lead at half-time by 3-3 to 0-2. The girls took on some much needed liquids in the stifling heat. They also made use of some water spray bottles with a few of the girls’ older brothers volunteering to take the task of spraying the girls’ faces.
The message went out from the coach to go out as if the match was 0-0 and to win the second half. The Cavan girls came out fighting but our defence held firm and when they did breach the defence, our goalie pulled off some great saves to keep the opposition at bay. After weathering the early storm, the girls started to play with some style, displaying their best performance yet in the competition. When the final whistle went the girls delight was easy to see as they progressed to the Semi Final stage.
Q/F: Ballyboden 6-5 Crosserlough 0-3
Scorers: Kate: 1-3(2f), Sarah C 1-1; Sarah G 1-0; Aine 1-0; Caoimhe 1-0; Clodagh 1-0 Hannah 0-1
That was it for the action on day 2 – however there was plenty more to come as the girls were brought straight to a swimming pool for a quick swim before travelling to the host club’s Saturday night social event. The swimming was a great success with the girls frightening away any other swimmers leaving them with pool and jacuzzi to themselves. The girls then met up with their host club again at an event hosted in the local Presbyterian Church yard. Again the hospitality was fantastic with families and the girls from both clubs socialising out in the sunshine. Gifts were exchanged between clubs and at the end of the night, the girls again separated from their Boden families (and their phones) to go back to their new homes. The Boden families decided that there was a little bit left in the night and they congregated in the hotel bar where there was a bit of chat, bit of music, even some dancing into the early hours…
Day 3 National Feile
It was a great feeling to wake up on Sunday and to know that you were still in the competition. The girls were picked up from Bredagh and said goodbye to their host families as they boarded the bus to their next destination, the Burren GAA complex at Warrenpoint. On arriving to the club, there was a great buzz with all teams close to the prize.
The girls were pitted against Cork champions Éire Óg. Both teams had great travelling support trying to encourage their teams and when the match threw in there was a great sense of anticipation. The Boden girls started well getting the first score and they had another couple of half chances which they couldn’t convert. The Cork opponents started to exert a lot of pressure all around the pitch. They hounded, harried and hassled to great effect meaning that the Boden girls just couldn’t get their free flowing football of the previous evening going. Éire Óg started to convert some chances and went in at half time leading by a point 0-2 to 0-1.
The girls continued to fight but there when Éire Óg converted an early goal and point in the second half, there was a sense that things were slipping away from our girls. A late goal and two more points put a gloss on the score in a tight match but it was the end of the road for our girls and when the final whistle went, there was great disappointment for all as they bowed out of the competition.
Q/F: Ballyboden 0-2 Éire Óg 2-5
Scorers: Kate: 0-1; Aine 0-1
And so the adventure ended, there was disappointment at first but as always with these girls they picked each other up, the coaches picked them up and by the time they reached home, there were smiles and laughter as the stories from the weekend were exchanged and relived by girls and adults alike. There was a nice closure to the weekend with a slideshow of the weekend photos prepared by Liam Cunningham. Then finally the girls ended up where they always do – kicking the ball around at the clubhouse.
The list of thanks for the weekend is a long one. First of all Brian (& Janet) Deignan who took on the task of co-ordinating the events – he can never have realised just what he was signing up to – but the organisation was perfect with every detail prepared as the team and all their families negotiated the country roads of County Down and city streets of Belfast. The families all embraced the spirit of the event with parents and siblings supporting the team and then mingling with the Bredagh families and all socialising together to make the event memorable for all. A special mention to John Rourke for leaving his sister’s wedding to make the long journey to bring Laura – your sister will forgive you someday John!! The siblings of our girls also played a great part with support for their sisters. There was great water carrying done by Karrie, Maggie, Corinne and Donal but a special mention to Eoin, Harry and Rian whose role grew throughout the weekend as they assisted the coaches and the girls and were really amazing in their support role. Every parent helped out when required but special mention again to Dave Rafter for the gazebo and Liam Cunningham for the photos. Thanks to Supervalu Knocklyon for donating drink supplies for the team and Village Framing, Rathfarnham for helping with the cost of the framed jersey gift. Then there was food, drink, first aid from Mags, Jenny, Alyson, Aisling, Jack and really you could just mention everyone there because everyone played their part. Umpires Jack and PJ (Maor craic) and Mentors Eoin, Ronan, Carol, PJ, Seamus and of course Kieran who had masterminded the whole thing from early in the year with each training session focussing on developing the skills to turn them from a good team into a really great team over the course of the year.
Last but not least the girls themselves. One main focus of the preparation was a tight defensive unit and protecting the goal. So conceding only 18 scores over 5 matches was a great return with only 5 goals conceded. The defensive unit of Sadie, Emmajane, Laura and Shona were solid with Shona unlucky to pick up an injury in the early Saturday game. Behind them Shauna was solid in goals with great distribution and one save in particular in the Q/F a wee bit special. The half backs of Alice, Ella and Megan and Megan protected their backs while also carrying the ball out to great effect. Again injuries hit both Megans which was testament to how much effort they were giving.
Through the middle of the park Leonie and Hannah covered incredible ground up and down the pitch in the sweltering conditions. The ball carrying of Abbie, Clodagh and Leah created numerous attacks with Kate, Aine and Caoimhe converting numerous scores while tormenting the opposition defences. Finally the full forwards of Ella Mc, Sarah G and Sarah C created and converted chances while also hassling the defenders and not letting them out with the ball. Nadi was unfortunately not able to make the trip but she was part of the Dublin Feile winning squad so also deserves a mention.
So that was the adventure which will hopefully leave our girls with great memories. They will enjoy the summer now and will no doubt be raring to go for the autumn!