Ballyboden St. Endas 3-5   Na Fianna   1-3

Tenacity is the word that epitomised the Ballyboden team last Saturday as they overcame a physically bigger Na Fianna team in the division 1 championship final replay. One independent observer counted 47 blocks of the ball by the Boden belles as they fought tooth and nail for every scrap in this enthralling match. What they lacked in size they more than made up for in heart and despite sustained pressure from Na Fianna in the second half, it was Boden that finished the stronger. Indeed the game was played at a ferocious pace and it is a tribute to the fitness of the girls that they finished so strongly.

In a late change to the starting line-up, Rachel McFetridge came in for midfielder Simone Reilly, who got delayed in traffic on her way to the match and it was to the credit of both Rachel and Niamh McLoughlin, that the Na Fianna midfield never got a chance to assert the physical superiority.

Catriona Sinnott opened the scoring with a pointed free after early pressure from the Boden forwards. More pressure saw captain fantastic Katie Murphy tag on a second point shortly after. However this Na Fianna team, who are unbeaten in the league, came back with two quick scores to even things up mid way through the first half. Indeed it could well have been more but for some stout defending by the full back line of Rachel White, Lisa Gillen and Sinead Ryan and the great goal keeping of Danielle Aylmer.

The game turned in a five minute period when the tactic of playing quick low ball into the inside forward line paid handsome dividends. First Katie Weir got onto the ball ahead of her marker to side foot into the net. Minutes later Saoirse O’Reilly drilled the ball low into the corner of the goal after a great pass in from Aisling O’Leary, who had a superb game at centre half forward. The final score of the first half was another lovely point from Saoirse, who had a field day at full forward.

A feature of the first half, and indeed the entire game, was the marking of Doireann Mullaney. Playing at left half back she was given the task of marking ‘Nora’ the Na Fianna right half forward, who would not have been out of place on their under 14 team, such was her height, pace and skill level. Yet it is fair to say that she put under such severe pressure throughout the game that by the end of the match she was reduced to taking shots from well out the field.

Predictably enough the second half started with the Na Fianna onslaught that was dealt with in admirable fashion by the Boden backs led by Aisling ‘the blocker’ Scully and Ruth Gillen. However on their first foray into the Na Fianna half, Katie Weir scored a contender for goal of the season. The ball was worked out of the Boden half by at least five Boden girls and found Weir wide on the right of the goal where she unleashed a bullet of a shot that nearly tore the net from the post.

Yet again Na Fianna came back at Boden and they were rewarded with a goal midway through the half. Simone Reilly came into midfield early in the second half and together with Martha O’Donoghue, they started to carry the ball more and more. This helped Boden to reassert their superiority and two further points from Aisling O’Leary and Saoirse O’Reilly increased their lead. Alison Lowe came in to aid the Boden backline in the second half as the game swung from end to end. But still Na Fianna would not lie down and it took a finger tip save over the bar from Danielle Aylmer to deny Na Fianna a certain goal late on.

This victory was achieved, not only by the 17 players on the pitch, but also by the entire panel. Aisling Moffet, Shannon Boner, Lauren Flynn, Gemma Colclough, Jade Cannon, Siobhan Darker, Jill McNair, Rachel Burke, Emma Gray, Tara Featherstone and the absent, Martha MacLachlan, Aisling O’Brien, Danielle Davis and Niamh Bryson all contributed to this fantastic success, for it is these girls that drive those on the pitch to such performances.

There were player of the match performances throughout the team and this result is a testament to a team that have been training since last January. Well done girls, we are all proud of you!

Mentors Michael Gillen, Mick Aylmer, Ciaran Colclough.