Our grading blitz started today with a home game against St Vincents 2nd team in Meadowvale. A squad of 19 turned up and unfortunately St Vincents only had initially 11 and then 12 so there was plenty of fresh legs to bring on during the game.
James K started in goals, Aodhán and Tadhg played full backs, Owen T and Oisin were the half backs. The midfield partnership was Max and James D, Frankie and John were half forwards and Luka and Eoin D completed the staring 11 in the full forward line. Hugo came on when the 12th St Vincents player arrived. Captain for the day Frankie won the toss and we played with a strong wind behind us for the first half.
The first couple of minutes were cagey with both sides testing out their opponents defences with out any clear chances before Max puts over the first point with a cool finish on 6 mins after some great play between John, Frankie and Luka before Max found the space to finish. A couple of minutes later Hugo came close to scoring only for the keeper to save it and put it out for a 45. Frankie takes the resulting kick and it was looking like a point all the way before dropping under the bar right in the corner. The whole team got a huge boost from this and kicked on, we win the kickout and the ball gets fed to Frankie who puts it over the bar this time. On 15 minutes James D and Max broke forward and played a long ball into Luka who fielded well and even though he was forced away from the goal had the presence of mind to hand pass the ball into the center for an onrushing John to put into the net. John then won the resulting kick out and put it over the bar.
It might sound like our defence had not much to do but it was just that they were very good at what they did. Aodhán and Tadhg won the first load of balls hit in and drove out before feeding Owen T, Oisin and James D who dropped more into defence when Hugo came on. Every time St Vincents broke forward they were met with a flurry of hands and bodies giving everything to make sure that we won the ball back or forcing them into making mistakes or shooting wide. The defence was helped out by the midfielders along with John who all put in big shifts covering back to defend as well as supporting the forwards. While James K didn’t have a lot to do he kept his concentration for the half and used his kickouts to maximum effect finding a team mate or kicking into space when the ball in dropped short. A quick goal and point from Frankie who linked up will with Eoin D around the 20 minute mark preceded the first of our many substitutions with Eoin G coming in for Aodhán and Johnnie coming in for Eoin D. There was a couple more attempts for each team before half time without the scoreboard being effected. Half time score saw us with a healthy 3.05 – 0.00 lead.
More substitutions and changes at halftime with James K and Luka swapping positions and Kevin being introduced. The teams workrate and decision making were commended at half time and with us playing into the wind for the second half we told them to expect a much greater challenge and to keep the workrate and teamwork levels at the same high standard.
St Vincents started the 2nd half strongly and after a couple of minutes scored their first point, the wind looked like it would play a big part in the game and we found it harder to make inroads but we adapted well and used our short passing game to great effect bringing the ball upfield at pace with James D, Oisin, Owen T and Tadhg driving us forward from the back at different stages of the half. Hugo and Max controlled midfield so that when we got the ball up their end they found it hard to really get at us on the counter attack. Johnnie was unlucky to see a couple of his shots go narrowly wide after some good fielding before he picked up an injury and was replaced by Sean. 10 minutes in and Frankie scores another goal which kick started a purple patch from St Vincents. Over the next 7 minutes they score a goal and 3 points in part due to some of our players getting tired and the disruption of the substitutions as players were changed constantly and it was difficult to keep our shape. Mark came on for James K with James D and Luka swapping positions as well as numerous substitutions to rest players. Just as it looked like St Vincents were going to turn the screw we possibly had our best play of the game Kevin won the ball in the heart of our defence and kicked it forward to Luka who played it onto Hugo, Hugo played a 1-2 with John before launching a ball for Mark to run onto, their keeper came out to intercept but misjudged it and it bounced over his head right to Mark who had read it better and finished into an empty net. Christian and Alex came on to finish the game out with Alex unlucky not to get a chance when through until a great challenge from a defender denied him the time to finish. There was time for one more score as Frankie kicked the ball over the bar to finish the game with a fine tally of 3.04. Final score 5.06 – 1.04.
A great start to the season for the team with great individual and team displays, super to see the inter changing of passes and the forwards working the ball to the player in a better position to score. While Frankie gets a lot of kudos for his excellent tally it was more often than not due to the good work of his teammates but you still have to admire his finishing.
A Big thanks to all the parents who were out supporting the team today and for the help setting up and putting away the goals etc. A big shout out to Harry who is injured but came down with his dad to support his teammates, I know it was appreciated by the coaching team and his teammates.