U-16A Championship – Ballinteer St. John’s – 03/09/16

BBSE                              1 – 6

Ballinteer St. John’s        3 – 1

Goals win matches! We score 7 times, concede 4 scores – but we lose!

Our girls opened their championship campaign in Cherryfield on Saturday against near neighbours Ballinteer St. John’s. Our lead up was far from ideal, as we lost both Erica Tobin and Saoirse Fitzgerald to injury in the previous week.

The overnight rain had all but ceased, and the pitch was in excellent condition, and a sizable crowd gave plenty of vocal support to both teams. These two teams had already drawn in the league and another epic contest was expected. The two teams did not disappoint in that regard.

The match began at a frantic pace and no quarter was asked for or given, with the two teams going toe to toe like two Olympic boxers. Defences were on top, but we eventually made the breakthrough when Katie slotted over a point from a free. Then a momentary lapse of concentration in our back line was punished to the full by John’s, who hit the back of our net. Then Aisling Gargan was so unfortunate when a long delivery came back off the crossbar, and our inside forwards were a hair’s breadth away from netting the rebound. A while later, another chance went begging when the John’s goalie was slow to control a ball, but the ball just would not cross the line.

At the other end we had a let-off when a low ball skimmed across our goal, and went just outside the butt of the post. Just before the short whistle Katie again showed her coolness to split the posts with a free, leaving us a point adrift at half time.

Declan’s stirring half time team talk (telling them, in true West Cork style to “pull like dogs”) obviously had the desired effect, and the girls attacked straight from the throw-in. The first attack was repulsed but Hollyn was lurking and drove the rebound straight between the posts for the equaliser. Tensions rose a notch and even line balls were furiously contested by both sets of supporters.

Scores were still few and far between, and, if anything, the exchanges intensified. Then a weak clearance out of our defence was collected by John’s who again found the back or our net. We then had to withstand some pressure and John’s extended their lead with a point from a free. Things were looking bleak for us but our girls have always shown resilience and demonstrated it again now. Aisling Gargan took a long range free which sailed all the way to the John’s net. However, this was soon cancelled by a cheap goal following a John’s breakaway to restore their four point lead. From here to the end it was all Boden. We put over a point to bring the margin back to three. Heading into the last minute a goal down we were pressing for the equaliser. Aisling pointed another free. Then Hollyn somehow emerged from a ruck of players with the ball in her hand and headed in one direction. No mind reader needed to know what was on her mind. She unleashed a fierce shot that looked destined for the top corner, but somehow ended up in the side netting having shaved the post.

Still we were not done. Another attack and Hollyn popped over a point. The minimum margin. One more attack hopefully. However our hopes were dashed when the ref blew the final whistle bang on 30 minutes.

We had lost by the minimum margin, but the girls fought to the bitter end they can certainly hold their heads high.

Our defence was brilliant throughout. Sadhbh was steadiness personified. Hannah was back to her brilliant best, and Joanne was probably our player of the match. Saoirse and Aoife held sway on their respective wings, while Aisling at centre back gave an exhibition.

Olivia and Muireann gave their much-vaunted midfield opponents plenty to think about, while Hollyn and Katie were the pick of our forwards, on a day when conditions probably favoured defences.

Vincents are up next, and if we can get a victory there it would probably send us into the semi-final. If the John’s match is anything to go by, then the Vincents match is one not to be missed.