Having come off a very narrow win in the first match of our new league the previous weekend, having not played against this weekend’s opponents (Clontarf) before, and hearing reports that they had performed very well in their previous match, the mentors were a bit wary of how the game might play out. We also had more players than our opponents, so we had to balance trying to get another win under our belt while giving everyone a fair chance to play: no wonder the coach was feeling a bit angsty!
In a throw back to the previous week’s game, we had an average first half. We were (very, very) wasteful in attach and slow in getting back into defence when we lost the ball – the two areas that are really needed to dominate a game at this level. That said, individually the backs were strong in their defending and a number of last-minute tackles stopped the opposition from scoring even though they had a lot more possession that they should have had. The boys strolled in at half time knowing themselves that they had not performed and that we could still snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. After a strong talking to, they boys knew (exactly as was the case the previous week) that much more was needed in the second half.
So out they went, and – again – the change was instant. The energy and effort levels doubled, the tackling was relentless, and the passing was fast and accurate. The Clontarf boys had no where to go. Every time they had the ball they immediately came under pressure. We turned the breakdowns that we won into attack very well and got ball up to our forwards to enable them to push the scoreboard strongly in our favour.
Particularly noteworthy were: Evan for giving a goal-keeping and kick-out masterclass (even though it is not his preferred position – thank you); Dylan and Eoin for playing half a match with the opposition – again, we all know that no-one likes to have to do that; the subs who had to sit out periods of the game when they would have much preferred to be on the pitch; Clontarf, who had struggled with their numbers on the day; Ted and all the parents who helped with setting up the pitch and the goals; and the ref.
Well done again to the boys who were: Evan in goal; Ned, Robbie, Dylan, Jack, Zenon, JD in defence; Omar and Matthew in mid-field; and Ben, Liam, Padraig, Eoin and Hugo in attack. We do need to find a way to start these games more brightly, because better teams will be out of sight before our boys get into their rhythm – which would be a pity.