The U12s gathered on Saturday morning for our annual match against St. Mark’s – the match that the mentors see as the best test of our progress given how the spoils have been shared between the two teams over the years. It was a beautiful morning, the pitch was in great condition and we had made it as big as possible to ensure that we got a good, open match. We also called down three of our (eligible) U13s panel to help with the numbers, and want to say thanks to Shane O’S, Shane P and Mark.
We played into the wind in the first half, and quickly saw that this big, strong and physical St. Mark’s team was serious about the contest. They won the throw-in and started to move the ball quickly through the forwards. A couple of points went over before we settled, and while our play in the first 15-20 minutes was generally composed and clever, we struggled to get our scores on the board.
Ned, Jack P and Dylan in the full-back line were fantastic on the day, particularly given the size and strength of the opposition’s forward line, and with Ben kick-outs finding their men, we were absorbing the pressure – just! Zenon (who was great and always in the right place at the right time) and the two Shanes (showing their class throughout) started to move the ball forward through Omar, Mark and Matthew (who battled for every ball like their lived depended on it – they were immense). These three passed and moved and started to get on top as we got more and more of the possession. Eoin Byrne, coming back from a lengthy lay-off showed his natural potential, and we can’t wait to see him back match fit!
With this battle going on around the middle, our half-forwards came more and more into the game: scrapping, tackling and being our first line of defence every time the Mark’s defence got the ball. Sam (who showed great movement and distribution), Liam (so good again!) and Padraig (who drew defenders in all day, so as to make space for the others) kept the supply going to the full-forwards. Evan, Eoin H and Hugo, with this constant supply of quality ball, did what they were there to do: get into good areas, hold on to the ball and take the valuable scores (I am told Hugo scored five goals).
They were great – every single boy. No matter how much pressure they were under, they stuck to our way of playing ball and ultimately they won out on the day by a reasonably comfortable margin. In addition to our great support on the side line (a record crowd), the ref and the opposition, we need to say a special thanks to Orla who has been training the team in recent weeks – thanks and well done.