Ballinteer St Johns Under 14 A girls capped a fine season by producing a performance full of character and grit when they needed it most at their 2018 football Feile.
The girls had spent the winter playing a string of tough Division 2 league games after a great 2017 campaign saw them promoted and crowned Division 3 Shield Champions
And they needed to call on all of the experience and skill they’ve gained to do it the hard way at Feile in Erin’s Isle.
Johns found themselves in a real “group of death” with just three teams in a high standard Division 3.
They were edged out by the hosts in a high-scoring opening encounter on a hot May Saturday on Dublin’s northside.
Having already beaten a classy Castleknock outfit in the group’s opening game, Erin Isle proved just too strong for Johns as well.
BSJ forwards worked an impressive 5-4 haul with great contributions from Kate Mander, Rachel Cullen, Sarah Wall, Alix White, Nessa Hynan and Sophie Fearon in a game that ebbed and flowed before the home side netted a couple of late goals to seal the points.
After just one game it left the Ballinteer girls facing a do or die clash against a very good Castleknock team who were also desperate for the win to progress to the semi-finals.
The winner-takes-all clash took on all the atmosphere and tension of a knockout championship showdown.
And with their backs to the wall, Johns dug deep to produce one of the best team displays their supporters have seen from them all year.
A superb defensive unit held the line with important interventions from Ellen O’Callaghan, Keela Rigby, Ciara Kelly, Zara Nelson, Sadbh Brown, Grace Lynch and Juliet Moore to shut out the talented Castleknock forwards.
Together they held a side that hit Erins Isle for 5-4 to just 1-4 backed up by a super goalkeeping performance by Riona Clancy.
Anu Ni Mhuirgheasa, Eve Leslie, Luisagh Guerrine and Lauren Burke did great work around the middle of the pitch to link up the play, aided by some great ball winning and strong running from Isabelle Mulholland and Hazel Grady.
Up front Alice keoghan and Jodi Morrisey battled hard for possession in a forward line that combined to create a string of scoring opportunities including a brilliant three-goal blast from Emily Adderley. It helped an overjoyed Johns to a well deserved 3-8 to 1-4 victory at the final whistle after a performance of real team work and character.
The prize was qualification from the group and a short trip to Whitehall to take on the other Division 3 group winners Thomas Davis in the semi-final.
As the heat sapped the energy from tired BSJ limbs, Thomas Davis took a 2 goal lead leaving Johns facing an uphill battle in the conditions. Fresh legs from the bench helped to rally the troops and Ballinteer hit back with a goal and two great points to show they were not going down without a fight. But Thomas Davis proved to be the fresher, stronger team and won out to face eventual winners Erin’s Isle in the final.
On a sun-splashed day the heat demanded a total squad effort from all 24 girls on the panel with everyone playing their part when asked to step up across three gruelling games.
The travelling support were thrilled with the character, team spirit and pride in the jersey the girls showed. All 24 squad members, including the injured Leah Kavanagh, stood up, never dropped their heads and even managed to have a lot of fun along the way.
They did themselves, their mentors and the club proud with their attitude, behaviour and skill in a Feile adventure saw them grow as a team and sends them into the championship later this summer full of hope.
1. Riona Clancy
2. Keela Rigby
3. Ellen O’Callaghan
4. Ciara Kelly
5. Isabelle Mulholland
6. Juliet Moore
7. Sadbh Brown
8. Anu Ni Mhuirgheasa
9. Eve Leslie
10. Luisagh Guerrine
11. Rachel Cullen
12. Kate Mander
13. Sarah Wall
14. Jodi Morrisey
15. Emily Adderley
16. Alix White
17. Nessa Hynan
18. Zara Nelson
19. Alice Keoghan
20. Lauren Burke
21. Grace Lynch
22. Sophie Fearon
23. Hazel Grady
24. Leah Kavanagh
Thanks to Neil Leslie for the article.