In the lead up to this Div1 Cup Final in Eamon Deacy Park yesterday, Colemanstown girls showed such nervous excitement – after all, this was territory they had never thread on before. With less than a year played at competitive level; to get this far is simply nothing but a testament to the players and the management trio of Zoe Kennedy, Laura Parker & Tara Roberts and the work put in- not alone in terms of football where everyone got equal playing time (3 players on and 3 players off every 10mins) but in the equally important aspects of camaraderie and team building as well.
Colemanstown arrived good and early donned in their new drill tops sponsored by specialist environmental, ecological and planning consultancy firm MKO, Galway – thanks to Pat Roberts for that! The tops displayed the 20×20 logo on one sleeve with the ‘UEFA Equal Game Respect’ logo on the other sleeve. They entered the hallowed turf of Eamon Deacy Park in great style with their woolly Colemanstown caps and newly sponsored Porter Cooling Services jerseys while the Champions League music blared in the background as they brushed by the Cup being played for which was sitting nicely displayed on the podium. It was obvious from the word ‘go’ they were going to lap up this occasion.
The game was played in wind-swept conditions. Congrats to EDP groundsman Noel Connolly & his crew who had the pitch in tip top shape despite the weather conditions over the last number of days. Colemanstown particularly in the first half enjoyed all-round dominance and Salthill, except for an odd breakthrough failed to reproduce any of their league form when they comprehensively beat Colemanstown 3-1. Colemanstown were heavy underdogs going into this game but showed remarkable spirit in upsetting the odds. It was tit for tat. The Colemanstown girls particularly Grace Mitchell, Blaithin Keane, debutant Mollie O’Connor outpaced and outplayed their rivals. They were quicker to the ball and having got to it, were much quicker at clearing it. Colemanstown’s defense lorded at the back by Lucy Roberts were well able to beat Salthill’s speedy strikers and kept them on their toes. Neither keeper was phased by the oncoming attacks at goal but none more so than the coolest keeper on the planet – Honor Tuohy – coolness personified springs to mind. Does any oncoming striker or goal-bound effort rustle her feathers?
Colemanstown had some early half chances through Grace Mitchell & Ally Nutley while up the other end, Salthill had half an effort which failed to faze Honor Tuohy as the striker was well off target. Shona Barrett’s through ball put Grace Mitchell through and although she stole yards on her opponent she failed to keep the ball from going over the endline. A goal looked certain for Salthill Devon on 12 mins but Ally Nutley nipped the ball off the striker’s toe as she was about to shoot. The vigilant ref called back play though for off side but Ally had made sure just in case. Libby Kennedy had a great chance from the edge of the box on 13mins but the advancing keeper was quick off her line to deflect the strike with her body. Ally Nutley & Anna Barrett teamed up well together in getting a delivery across the field to Eva Molloy who found herself in space but again the Salthill custodian was quick off her line to drown out the chance. Grace Mitchell showed what she’s made off with a ‘step over’ beauty as she saved the ball from going out over the end-line when it looked like the pace of the ball had her well beat. As she played the ball back into space it was latched onto by the Salthill defense and danger was averted. Libby Kennedy had another chance which went wide while up the other end it looked like Salthill made the breakthrough but the ref deemed the player to be offside and the goal was disallowed. At this stage, the ball was up and down the field and Della Griffin capitalised on a poor Salthill kick out but the keeper redeemed herself well. On 22mins Della Griffin put through a beauty for Eva Molloy but again the pace of the ball got the better of her. Half time 0-0.
The 2nd half was 11mins old when Salthill whipped in a corner and as cool as a breeze Honor Tuohy gathered superbly. 3mins later, a break through the middle from Salthill Devon saw 2 players take on 2 and with the gait of Honor Tuohy on the 6’ box, she stood her ground, with legs spread and arms outstretched, there was absolutely no doubting the fact she wasn’t letting this effort past her. Down she went, spread herself superbly and made a top class save midway through the half. At this stage, our back line of Aising Ruane, Aoife Hynes, Lucy Roberts and Ally Nutley were solid in their clearances while Della Griffin, Edel Egan, Libby Kennedy and Annalise Doran were remarkable in their passing and quick runs up the wing maintained the pressure on the opposition. On 19mins, Grace Mitchell put through a beauty for Blaithin Keane but the keeper was equal to the task. Salthill’s No.9 then looked to have Honor beat as she was dispossessed but down she went on the 2nd attempt to clutch the ball into safety.
With 8mins to go, Salthill made the breakthrough. For once Colemanstown’s defence were breached and the striker beat Honor with a low hard drill underneath her body. The Colemanstown girls got back on their horses and rode on with the job. They had enough reserve energy to forge ahead again. Anna Barrett, Eva Molloy, Shona Barrett, Rachel Kennedy and Grace Mitchell did their damndest in attack. It almost paid off on 29mins if only Eva Molloy’s gifted chance was 12” lower, it would have rifled the net. Colemanstown pressurised with a couple of late corners which yielded nothing while up the other end, Salthill Devon closed out the game with a second goal late in extra time. The 2-0 scoreline did not reflect the end to end intensity of the game and both teams must be commended for their level of professionalism and skill.
The girls weren’t too disappointed after the game. They lapped up the occasion. They know there’s more to come in the league decider against Colga currently scheduled for March 22nd. On accepting their runners-up medals, joint captains Libby Kennedy & Annalise Doran introduced their team mates to the crowd and Libby fittingly thanked the coaches and parents for bringing the girls to training all season. Then off to Burkes in Colemanstown everyone headed for some post match refreshments. Thanks to Bernie Burke as always for the hot food provided after the game and to the sandwich makers. Also thanks to Zoe for her lovely words of this great team who hadn’t missed one training session all year – rain, hail, sleet or cold. The management team had the distinction of having absolutely almighty ambassadors on the field for this league and Cup campaign. There is a bond there for sure. A new era is dawning, that’s one thing certain. Also, after the game Eva Molloy & Honor Tuohy were presented with their certificates for ‘super Footwork Skills’ & ‘Marvellous Goal keeping’ respectively as was the custom all season for other recipients of varying skills in the football game.
Our girls are pictured below with their 20×20 flag on International Womens Day along with past Colemanstown player Tessa Mullins who is now part of the Galway WFC squad. Thanks to Tess who gave a meaningful & inspiring speech to the girls on her young days playing for Colemanstown and asked them to be proud of the distance they have travelled in such a short space of time. Thanks Tess for that!
Back: Tara Roberts(Management), Della Griffin, Annalise Doran, Edel Egan, Aoife Hynes, Lucy Roberts, Tessa Mullins, Shona Barrett, Aisling Ruane, Ally Nutley, Zoe Kennedy(Management), Laura Parker(Management)
Front: Blaithin Keane, Mollie O’Connor, Libby Kennedy, Honor Tuohy, Rachel Kennedy, Grace Mitchell, Eva Molloy and Anna Barrett.