Pádraig Sáirséil U14 girls travelled to Meath on Friday 29th June 2018 in their quest for All Ireland Féile glory.
In the first game they travelled to Co Louth to play Mattock Rangers on their home venue. The journey did not seem to hinder the girls as they got off to a flyer in the searing heat of 30 degrees. Four goals in the opening half from Aoibheann McStay, Laura McKernan, Aoife Kennedy and Katie Walsh put this match beyond our opponents. McKernan and Walsh added a point apiece in that half with Aimee Meenan scoring two further points for good measure. The second half continued much as the first and the management decided to use the bench so as all the squad got game time. Substitutes Orla McNulty and Ellie McKernan each got a point, Meenan a further two goals and Carla McKenna the midfield dynamo got on the scoresheet also with a goal and a point. Mattock managed two late points to make final score 7:7 to 0:2.
Aimee Meenan 2:2 Laura McKernan 1:1 Carla McKenna 1:1 Katie Walsh 1:1 Aoibheann McStay 1:0
Aoife Kennedy 1:0 Ellie McKernan 0:1 Orla McNulty 0:1
Next up for Na Cailini Oga was Knockainey of Limerick and what a belter of a match this turned out to be. Probably a case of not taking your chances for the Sarsfields girls as they dominated possession but failed to convert chance after chance. At the end of first half they had only registered 3 points from Laura McKernan, Aoife Kennedy and Katie Walsh and probably hit 3 times as many wides. Knockainey rode their luck and with two quick counter attacks scored 2 goals. They added 2 further points to lead 2:2 to 0:3 at the break. The second half began with another swift counter attack from our opponents and they scored a third goal. Some tactical changes in the back line saw Katie Walsh moved from half forward to half back to nullify the speed merchants of Knockainey and the changes seemed to work. Dominating in midfield with Francesca Quattromano and Carla McKenna the forwards started to play as a unit. Our opponents could not get out of their half for the last 12 mins of the half and Na Cailini Oga pushed up from half back to pile on the pressure. Walsh went on a run from midfield and was harshly fouled on the 20m line. Up stepped Laura McKernan to rifle the free into the top of the net. McKenna was influential in this period carrying ball after ball into the scoring zone before laying off to McKernan and she scored two further points. From 8 points down there was now only a goal in it and McKernan had found her shooting boots. She won a free on the 20m line but Knockainey had learnt from earlier. They got everyone onto the line and McKernan took her point. Two minutes to go and only 2 in it. Make that 1 minute to go and 1 in it as McKernan scored a wonder point from distance. With time ebbing away it seemed an equaliser would come but the final whistle blew and the girls lost out by a solitary score. The management team talk was a simple one. “We’ll meet that team again so be ready when we do”. There would have been few matches over Féile weekend to rival this one. Final score 1:7 to 3:2.
Scorers: Laura McKernan 1:5; Katie Walsh 0:1; Aoife Kennedy 0:1 Sarsfields with their hosts Drumbarragh
Saturday saw the girls play their hosts Drumbarragh and Alana Sousa Ua Bruadair was ruled out with a foot injury. Noramlly playing fullback she had kept nets in first two games to protect the foot but was too sore to field. Anna Garahan took over keeping duty. Scores were hard to come by in early exchanges but Aimee Meenan got the opening goal after 5 mins and then points from Laura McKernan, Aoife Kennedy, Carla McKenna (x2) and Katie Walsh saw Na Cailini Oga lead at half time 1:5 to 0:0. All substitutes came on for second half with Caitlin McArdle moving to midfield. She took the game to Drumbarragh and scored 1.1 as the games finished 2:6 to 0:0.
Scorers: Caitlin McArdle 1:1, Aimee Meenan 1:0, Carla McKenna 0:2 Laura McKernan 0:1, Katie Walsh 0:1.
Quarter final of the cup was next up and our opponents were the beaten finalists from previous year Balyna of Kildare. A blistering hot day was mirrored by the girls opening 15 minutes. Carla, Francesca, and McKernan were on fire. Four unanswered points from McKernan gave the girls a comfortable lead. A point from Balyna reduced lead to 3 before McKernan found the net to stretch it to 6. Katie Walsh continued to drive at the defence and drew a free which McKernan converted. But a lapse in concentration saw Balyna score a major just before the half time whistle to make it a 4 point lead. That was reduced to 3 with Balyna getting opening score of second half and the pressure was on. Disaster struck with 7 minutes of the game left when a very heavy tackle saw the driving force in Carla McKenna badly injured. With the game up for grabs Connla Molloy replaced McKenna with Meenan moving to midfield. Balyna piled on the pressure but the 6 backs in Niamh McNulty, Aoife Crothers, Ellie McKernan, Ellie Kearns, Renad Soda and Caitlin McArdle prevented any further scores registering. In the last move of the game the ball was fed to one of the many supersubs Connla Molloy who instantly swivelled and shot to the corner of the net to make it 6 points in it to see out the game. Semi final of the cup beckoned and the team were ecstatic.
Scorers: Laura McKernan 1:5, Connla Molloy 1:0
Semi –Final Cup:
With the highs come the lows and after the bad tackle on Carla McKenna the previous day she was ruled out under concussion protocol – major loss – ecstasy to agony. But this team are made of stern stuff and took to the field in Ardee against Warrenpoint with the sole ambition of making it to an All Ireland Final for fried and team mate McKenna. It started poorly with Warrenpoint opening the scoring with a scrappy goal. As the girls attempted to play the expansive game of football, frustration set in with the opposition constantly fouling. Eventually, the shackles were off and Laura McKernan equalised with an individual goal of brilliance. Aoife Kennedy, Katie Walsh and Aimee Meenan added 3 more points before another supersub Meabh Kelly found the net to leave it 2:3 to 1:0 at half time.
Warrenpoint started strongly in second spell with a few points before McKernan registered 2 further points from frees. Still 6 in it but a period of Warrenpoint dominance saw them score a goal and point to leave 2 in it and the pressure was on. Walsh was deployed to act as sweeper and her interception in front of half back line was quickly moved upfield in a sweeping handpassing move involving 4 players. Meabh Kelly was final recipient and she majored again to put five between the teams and the game was over.
Scorers: Meabh Kelly 2:0, Laura McKernan 1:2, Aoife Kennedy 0:1, Katie Walsh 0:1, Aimee Meenan 0:1.
this match was a replay of the second match in that we met Knockainey of Limerick and we knew what to expect – quick counter attacking. However with the rock of full back Alana Ua Bruadair and midfield dynamo Carla McKenna missing it was always going to be an uphill struggle. Further injuries to Aoife Crothers (wrist) and Francesca Quattromano (hip) did us no favours. In spite of this we dominated possession in first half with Meenan replacing McKenna in midfield and Orla McNulty coming in at half forward. Knockainey got the first point and Mckernan responded. Then two pivotal moments in the game proved costly. An intensive spell of play saw the ball cleared of Knockainey’s goal line 4 times only for them to break and get two goals. Aoife Kennedy pulled a point back and McKernan narrowed lead to 5 with a well taken point. The half finished with a controversial converted free by the Limerick team. Half time 2:3 to 0:3.
The first score of seond half was going to be crucial and despite the pressure applied to Knockainey’s goal it just wouldn’t come. The toil of the previous 5 games started to show with Na Cailini Oga out on their feet. The bench was emptied and Knockainey’s pace seen them score a further 1:5 to see out the game. Final score 0:3 to 3:8.
Scorers: Laura McKernan 0:2, Aoife Kennedy 0:1.
To say expectations were exceeded is a massive understatement for these girls.
They played some magnificent football in the most exciting games and are a credit to their county, club and parents.
Squad: Anna Garahan, Aoife Crothers, Alana Sousa Ua Bruadair, Niamh McNulty, Caitlin McArdle, Renad Soda, Ellie Kearns, Carla McKenna, Francesca Quattromano, Katie Walsh, Aimee Meenan, Meabh Kelly, Aoife Kennedy, Aoibheann McStay, Laura McKernan, Hannah Niblock, Orlaith Crothers, Leah Cotter, Connla Molloy, Orla McNulty, Zara Delander, Rhianna Wilkinson, Ellie McKernan, Izzy Ferran.