Ballinteer Girls Achieve Greatness

 Dublin 5-12 Kerry 2-15

Oggy Oggy Oggy Oi Oi Oi was the battle cry that rang out around the hills of banagher as the Dublin girls basked in the knowledge of being All Ireland champions, the wee Jackie’s toppled the kingdom of Kerry but not forgetting taking part in one of the spectacles of the year and one that will go down as battle to beat all battles, from the goalkeeper to the subs Dublin did not shy away from the challenge that was set before them by their manager Fintan O’Curry, the game as any battle does ensued at a extremely frantic pace with Dublin getting the upper hand over their rivals in the first quarter with the extremely impressive Oonagh Whyte and the tough and gritty corner forward Maria Kenny linking up very well, The dubs felt like they had lady luck shining down on them when after 6 minutes the excellent Kenny broke free off her marker to burst through the solid Kerry defence only to be dragged down in the small square giving the referee no option but to award a penalty, the exciting Lauren Ebbs stepped up to calmly slot home the resulting spot kick, Ebbs stepped up to the mark terrifically for her team yesterday knocking over an impressive 4-2 to collect the player of the match for her troubles.

This Dublin team never had it their own way during this game however with Kerry pushing in through Kingdom style knocking over scores to put pressure on the girls to make the Dublin bench a bit more nervous, as the 1st half drew to a close the girls were finding it hard to shake loose a fantastic Kerry effort but in times of need leaders are looked for and the call from the crowd to push on was duly answered with Ebbs again making life hard for the Kerry back line,  the impressive Kerry number 9, Laura Rogers, strode through Banagher like past Kerry greats would have but the ding dong battle was put up to Rogers from the monstrous Sarah Hawkshaw right from the off and was never the passion from Hawkshaw forced the pair to produce that little bit more to get the upper hand over the other.

Dublin who had suffered a bittersweet victory at this stage last year, bagging the All Ireland shield, were determined not to let the holy grail get away from them. But Kerry who had the under 14 all Ireland under their belts from 2008 were out for more and took the lead with 15 minutes to go through the second half from the tough wing forward Nicole O’Connor and looked to consolidate their lead but the experience of ’08 looked to have left them high and dry with the terrific Dubs upping the intensity to another level.

As the minutes started to tick down though a nervous Dublin crowd roared on the girls and the 16th man looked for inspiration to push the girls over the line but through adversity comes opportunity and today it was in the form of the fantastic Siobhan Woods whose marauding run to get on the end of the superb Mollie Lamb’s pass put her one on one with the keeper only to be dragged down to cost the Kerry folk another penalty, this pressure kick has been missed so many times in sport but the cool and collected Ebbs stepped up again and signalled to all around her that pressure was for tyres not for her by slotting home her second penalty. This turning point gave the Dublin girls the injection they badly needed, Woods got her second wind however and blasted Kerry’s stonewall defence with more and more darting runs and passes, the Crowd got louder and started to believe, the hammer blow then came with the game in the melting pot, Woods and Ebbs goaled again to leave the comeback complete at 5-12 to 2-15.

The win could not have come if not for the hard workers around the middle with Maria McGrath and Lamb working like greyhounds around the breaks to make sure their star centre forward Woods was able to run riot and make it a tough day at the office for the stand in centre back who stood in for the injured Kerry star Ciara Ni Mhurchada.

As the pressure increased on the Dublin back line they stood firm with the admirable Hawkshaw erecting an imaginary sign stating “YOU WILL NOT PASS” infront of her back line, helped in her efforts at midfield was the athletic Emma McDonagh who chipped in with two scores to  help the Dublin cause, Dublin however much they had thrown at them by the kingdom could call on their trusted soldiers at the back to mind the house, Grainne Barrett and Aoife Nolan were gazelle like in drifting up and down the wing but crucially never giving the ball away, their line was held superbly by the solid centre back Sarah McCaffery.

Not forgetting the bread and butter of this side, where the spirit and heart is developed and resonated through the side all the way back from the marvellous full back line, Claire “the colossus” King stomped over any sniff of a score with defending to drive a forward mad. Captain Fantastic, Deirdre Murphy, led her troops with admirable determination, going down with John O’Leary and Tommy Drumm as one of the greats to lead Dublin to glory. The final piece in the full back trilogy was the out of this world Leah Caffery; the steady but formidable Na Fianna girl gave nothing away, not forgetting the thankless job of Goalkeeper which went to the inspirational Norah Harney.

The introduction of hard working Ciara Trant put stop to any thought of more scores from the Kerry midfield and set Dublin on their way, the belief that was evident throughout the whole squad was plain to see and in years to come, if the rest of us are lucky enough, there will be more and more battles to match the roman pantheon style battle that was put on yesterday in the hills of Offaly.

In truth picking out one particular girl was way too tough for yours truly, Murphy mentioned to her teammates in her speech that they had done it together, the subs that came in from the superb Lorna Colgan to the cool headed but masterful Shauna Garvin and Emma Lennon all played their part and that is exactly what it was, a team effort channelled into one to achieve perfection.

Pearse Corcoran