The combined Athgarvan/Killcullen (or Kilgarvan as the team has christened itself) U14 girls team suffered the heartbreak of a one point extra time loss to Rathcoffey in a pulsating semi final encounter on 31st May.
The Kilgarvan girls got off to the best possible start with a point and two very early goals from Kayleigh Humphries and Daire Smyth. An evenly matched game then went scoreless for a long period beofre Rathcoffey suddenly hit a purple patch scoring 3-2 in the last ten minutes to give them a four point half time lead. Rathcoffey continued their domination in the second half and only the heroic efforts of Lisa Hogan in goal kept the scoreline down.
With seven minutes remaining, Kilgarvan looked out of it trailing by 11 points on a score of 5-3 to 2-1, having not managed to raise a flag for thirty-five minutes. Some substitutions (with Katie Farrell having a big impact in firming up the back line), a few tactical changes and throwing caution to the wind saw an amazing comeback from the Kilgarvan girls, who displayed an incredible never say die attitude. Winning every ball, Kilgarvan scored three quick goals through Nikki Dowling and Kayleigh Humphries and then added two excellent longe range points, the last an inspired effort from Samantha Cullen.
So it was on to extra time and Kilgarvan continued to dominate a shell-shocked Rathcoffey side. Two ‘goals’ from Sarah Doherty and Samantha Cullen were disallowed (correctly), but still Kilgarvan pressed on and thier efforts were eventually rewarded with another fine point from Samantha Cullen. The second half of extra time was to prove ten minutes too long, however, as Rathcoffey dominated possession and Kilgarvan showeed great bravery and determinatio to block away attempt after attempt. Unfortunately, the pressure eventually told and two points in the last three minutes saw Kilgarvan defeated on a score of 5-5 to 5-4.
Whist it was a sad ending to a season which saw the girls win six of their seven league matches, and only go down by a point in both their defeats, the coaches (Aisling Lambe, Brian Willlis and Jason Morris) were incredibly proud of the heart showed by the girls on the night and indeed throughout the season. To lose a semi final after extra time two years in a row is a bitter blow, and enough tears were shed to flood the Liffey, but this team will be back to fight another day and gain the county title they so richly deserve for their efforts and commitment.
The full panel was – Katie Berney (brilliant midfield performance in the semi final), Aoife Buckey (tireless runner with a sweet left foot), Roisin Byrne (committed back who sadly missed the semi through sickness), Sarah Doherty (lightning fast half/corner forward and great finisher), Nikki Dowling (county player with the biggest kick in the business!), Elaine Dunne (skillful corner forward capable of some great scores), Kelly Gaynor (very athletic and much improved in her first full season), Rachel Keane (brilliant full back with courage and skill), Daire Smyth (county player and unstoppable when in full flow), Kathryn Snell (developed great as an impenetrable corner back), Katie Willis (another big improver, equally at home as half back/forward), Aoife Sully (newcomer who forced her way into the team at corner back), Niamh Sully (gets better with each training session and will continue to improve), Leah Cullen (determined full forward with a strong, accurate kick), Georgia Hobbs (outstanding at centre back, with pace and strength), Lisa Hogan (versatile and did well as forward, back and latterly in goal), Tilly Morris (coming back from a nasty knee injury and still as reliable as ever), Leah Mullally (strong and fast to the ball with a huge if unpredictable kick!), Alice Murphy (good accurate kick and will be a regular in the U13 team), Niamh O’Donnell (strong and determined at half/corner back), Katie Treacy (some fine performances in goals and a great outfield option as well), Aiveen van der Hoven (great marker and can run all day, sadly injured for the semi final), Samantha Cullen (county U12 panel who stars in every team she plays in, some vital scores) Kayleigh Humphries (scored a goal in every match – exceptional for an U11 playing at U14 level), Katie Farrell (late addition to the panel as an U11 who quickly shone and has a huge future).
To all the girls – well done on a great season which we hope you all enjoyed – apart from the ending!