Heading into the last game before the summer break, it was pretty clear what was needed from the team. We were unbeaten in four, but had rarely played to our potential. At times in matches we had played very well (vs. Kilmacud), at times gritty (vs. Skerries), and at times we had made the most of our scoring opportunities (vs. Raheny), but never all of these together or for a full match. Having never beaten Craobh Chiarain it seemed our unbeaten run would depend on bringing it all together for this game.
We asked the boys for a big start – 5 minutes of extra intensity where we would set out our stall and put the opponents on the back foot, and 5 minutes in we were 2-4 to 0-0 ahead. We won everything: every 50:50 ball, every tackle; every block down; and took every scoring chance. We never looked back. Our backs (Ned and Jack (never-take-a-backwards-step) Porter in the full backs, Eoin B and JD in the half-backs, and Morgan floating) were fantastic. Eoin, back after a long lay-off, grew back into the wonderful talent we know he is). Very, very little got past them and when the opportunity arose they contributed to the scoring. Zenon and Omar were ‘class’ in the middle. They never stopped running, and – particularly in the 2nd half – showed great composure and awareness of space, providing constant supply of good ball to our forwards. Notwithstanding the size of the opposition’s backs (I genuinely thought they were U15s when I first saw them warming up), our lads bullied and harassed them. No one more so than Eoin Healy on a guy twice (?) his size, but Eoin harried and tackled and managed one of the best scores of the game (just great, and my man of the match!). The other forwards (Mark, Evan, Padraig and Matthew) all scored, all worked tirelessly, and all provided our first line of defence starting at the 13m line. Ben, on the other hand, had a quiet day in goal – thankfully; nailing his kick outs every time.
It ended 4-17 to 3-6, which doesn’t flatter us at all. For the mentors it shows the tenacity and resolve of these lads, and proves that at this age winning is about effort and teamwork – not individual skill.
Enjoy the summer, you have all earned it and see you back in August when some tough(er) games await. Thank you to the parents for their generous gifts and ongoing support, to Craobh Chiarain (who will be waiting for us next time), the great ref and the eligible players from U13s who have helped us out this year.