A bright sunny day in Marley Park – the sound of an ice-cream van in the background and scores of families wandering about enjoying the last weekend before the schools re-open. You would have forgiven both teams if they had paid the ref, agreed a draw, taken down the nets and lounged on the grass for an hour and a half!
Instead what followed was one of the hardest fought encounters of this team’s long career. In truth the game was won in the first fifteen minutes. But while it might have been won in the first fifteen – vitally it wasn’t lost in the following forty five. The blocking and hooking, covering and chasing throughout was skilful and dogged. Despite a very physical encounter Boden conceded only three frees in the entire game.
A re-jigged forward line was led superbly by Sarah McGrath. There was a steady supply of ball from Elaine Whelan and Ciara Woodcock off hard-won ball in the middle of the park – repeatedly won by Sarah Anne Murphy and Hannah Tevlin (pushing up from halfback). Between them Sarah, Deirdre Murray, Chloe Curran and Robyn Flynn picked off 2 – 2 inside the first twenty minutes. Ballinteer were held scoreless during this period.
After 20 suddenly St. John’s found their rhythm. Time for the half backs to show their mettle. Ciara Duffy has, for the longest time, been the glue of this team at centre back, no change on this day – and while Ciara held the centre Cathy Flanagan and Hannah Tevlin covered the wings with more energy than a truck load of Lucozade Sport – the three were simply superb. Caoimhe Lynn made one outstanding save and as if under no pressure Shauna Walsh drove the ball 35 metres out the field. The halftime whistle was welcome. Would 2 – 2 to no score be enough playing up the hill against a St. John’s team who were growing in confidence?
The second half began as the first had finished with St. John’s on the attack. Lauren Gray was switched from mid-field to corner back at the start of the game to cover St. John’s very tidy and skilled corner forward. Three, four, five balls came to that corner in quick succession – each time Lauren’s mid-field savvy came out on top and the danger was cleared. Shauna Walsh at full back was busy. Busy and outstanding – Diarmuid O’Sullivan from Cork was known as the Rock – here was his cousin. Chloe Murphy in the other corner was having a busy day and coping well with Ballinteer’s running game.
Two substitutions put fresh legs on the pitch – the excellent Hannah Tevlin took a hurl to the elbow and was replaced by Megan Gray – we need have had no worries Megan continued to be as solid as Hannah had been. Rachel Kilmartin was sent into the full forward line with the specific job of preventing any ball from leaving the St. John’s danger area easily. Ciara McCullagh was given a free role up front – and her natural instinct as a defender was employed superbly to make life difficult for the St. John’s half backline. Suddenly the free flowing movement of John’s was stifled and Boden regained the upper hand. Boden tagged on a third point (the reporter was so excited that he forgot to note who got it!!) and that concluded the scoring for the day
The two skill highlights of the game came in the final ten minutes. From the middle of a scramble in front of the John’s goal while players from all sides pulled and pushed Rachel Kilmartin put her boot to the ball to put Deirdre Murray clear in front of goal – it was a pass Ronaldo would have been proud of. In the second instance Chloe Murphy, now playing half back – caught a ball over her head that most county hurlers would have missed. Behind her three Ballinteer players waited. Had she missed they would have scored. She didn’t miss – they didn’t score. The game finished BBSE 2-3, BSJ 0-0.
Squad: Caoimhe Lynne, Cathy Flanagan, Ciara Duffy, Ciara McCullagh, Ciara Woodcock, Chloe Curran, Chloe Murphy, Deirdre Murray (0-2), Elaine Whelan, Hannah Tevlin, Lauren Gray, Megan Gray, Robyn Flynn (1-0), Rachel Kilmartin, Sara Anne Murphy, Sarah McGrath (0-1), Shauna Walsh.