Niamh Bennett, Laura Hayes, Aislinn Farrell, Eile Keenan, Avril Cullen, Ciara Walsh, Niamh Carey, Laura Joye, Grace Mcloughlin, Michelle Carey, Sadhbh nic Uileagoid, Katie Fearon, Siobhra Andrews, Isabel Colleran, Niamh Sheehan, Eavan Fitzgerald, Suzanne Fitzsimons, Ali O’ Leary, Anne Whelan, Allanah O Connor, Dearbhla Nolan, Isobel Cullen, Kevin Carey, Sue McDonagh, Sinead Bennett
In their last year together they saved the best till last. These girls have played the most incredible football this year and literally blown very strong teams away with what can only be described as superlative football. It’s a wonderful style, inspired by Kevin Sue and Sinead, based on attack with a capital A, a very solid defensive unit (with a sweeper) and unique empathy between the players that allows them to cut defences to shreds and score some wonderful goals and points. Prior to the semi-final and final we have scored 36 goals against top class opposition. It was the usual division one suspects of Fingallians, Foxrock Cabinteely, Clontarf (the 2015 League Champions), Kilmacud Crokes (last year’s winners) and our local rival St Enda Ballyboden who we beat in the 2013 Championship final. No weak teams and on their day each more than capable of beating us. We won four of our games and lost one and hence topped the table. We got a home advantage in Marley against St Enda’s, Ballyboden, the one team that had beaten us three times in out last three outings. The stakes were higher for this game, it mattered.
Match REPORT: Semi Final Balinteer V St Enda’s Sunday 31 October 12 am kick off Marley Park
St Enda came into this game very confident but they met a team that had moved into a higher gear since their last encounter. BSJ dominated the play yet with ten minutes to go it was all square. St Enda’s had clawed their way back into the game after BSJ missed opportunity after opportunity.
St Enda’s attacks increased and the BSJ supporters were very nervous. I noticed a few parents physically kicking their legs in the air to clear an imaginary ball and a few healthy barneys started on the side line and behind the goal. Everything was a stake and tempers were frayed! Great gas. Our girls needed to do something and do it fast.
Our defence yet again proved impenetrable and withstood the onslaught by closing down the dangerous attackers. There were a few scary calls by the referee. Will he yellow card a player? A moment of calm as the keeper of the championship Laura Hayes kicked out to Eavan who passed to Eile under pressure, she kicked to Laura Joye and Laura passed to Katie who found Siobhra. Siobhra went on one of her weaving runs that left 4 players chasing space. Cometh the hour…the sideline crowd moved forward in anticipation. She ran towards goal from the right side of the pitch skirting the line. Hearts beating on the side line as she passed perfectly to Niamh S who coolly and calmly collected the ball then dropped it onto her bionic right foot and smashed the ball into the back of the net. A four point lead… the parents began to believe. Then Niamh C (I estimate she ran a half marathon on the pitch that day) broke from defense and found Katie who beat two for the ball after a dog fight and nailed the ball into the back of the net as she collapsed on the ground. Goals from Siadbh, Grace, Michelle and Katie followed. The last 6 minutes we got a scored a minute. Incredible football and the parents literally leapt for joy on the side line. In fairness the final score did not reflect St. Enda’s effort and skill. They met a team performing at their very best and had no reply.
MATCH REPORT: Final Ballinter St John’s V Kilmacud Crokes, St Bridgets, Castleknock 1.30 Sunday 8th November 2015
This was one of the wettest days of the year and Thank God for all weather pitches! What a game! It’s was unreal with skill levels and passing from both teams that belied the dreadful weather. We dominated the first 15 minutes but missed more than we scored. Then Crokes attacked and despite facing a strong wind finished every attack with either a point or a goal. Memories of last year’s final came flooding back where they scored goals at will against us. BSJ dominance ended and possession was 50 50 for the rest of the half. Half time score 1-7 to 2-4 and Kilmacud felt confident with the wind at their back in the second half. Our only solace was that if Kilmacud could play so effectively into the wind so could we. The bounce of the ball seemed to be going Kilmacud’s way and with 13 minutes to go we were behind by 4 points. It was time for the girls to move up a gear. A turning point happened when Kilmacud broke and created enough space to give two attackers a clear run at goal. There was only one defender between Laura and the goal, Eile Keenan. In a flash Eile suddenly de-possessed the ball from the attacker who looked as if Paul Daniels had just tricked her. She run out of defense and made an excellent pass to the equally reliable and solid Eavan. The danger was over. I suspect if they’d have scored, it would have been game over. A pivotal moment.
Then I heard the “Click” and then we witnessed a moment of great beauty. A move down the left wing involving Grace, Niamh and Siadbh led a beautiful pass into Niamh S. She caught the clean pass and smashed the ball into the back of the net. What a goal! Game on. BSJ could smell victory and they went in for the kill. Waves of attacks started and Kilmacud were on the back foot. Points started to clock up and Michelle, Siadbh and Niamh started finding space. On one attack Siobhra was fouled in the box and a penalty was awarded. As cool as ice Niamh took her time, set the ball and calmly found the right corner. When the ball was kicked out by Kilmacud and ended up in Graces hands in mid field the mentors screamed ”Hold onto the ball.” The parent’s sibling and relations and friends joined in “Just hold onto the ball” and to be honest a few of the Kilmacud parents got confused and joined in as well. In fairness we did not need to tell them what to do, they know how to close out a games.
The dominance continued as Kilmacud gave away a few frees that Michelle slotted over. Another attack and a pass to Katie close to the line. Time seemed to stop (again) as the defender held her in a kindly bear hug. Katie somehow broke free and scored. The crowd went crazy, we were seven ahead with only a minute or two remaining.
“HOLD onto the ball” we all screamed. They did a Munster and closed the game down not allowing Kilmacud any sight of the ball. What another display from this special team. They are so complete and the sum of the parts is greater the individuals involved. No dominant stars just a very compete team well drilled and well mentored. The crowd was in seventh heaven with two Division 1 titles in three years! The first time that BSJ club has ever achieved this!
To Kevin Sinead and Sue BIG THANKS, you clocked up so many hours of your free time over the years. You are super role models for the girls. What a great bunch of parents who will continue to be my friends into the future. The team created a real sense of community and a unique bond that is hard to replicate. Great ending to a magical nine year journey. Isn’t this what St Johns and GAA is all about!
Photos just click here Photos of Final and Semi Final