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Under 13 Final-Match Report

posted 6 Oct 2017, 01:18 by rúnaí Cill Daingin

In spite of the fact that they ultimately suffered defeat to St. Kevin’s Kildangan U-13 footballers can feel very proud of their performance in last Saturdays all-County Div 5 league final, played in ideal conditions at Hawkfield. Facing a physically superior St. Kevin’s side, this young Kildangan team gave every last ounce of commitment and endeavour in an attempt to land the honours.  


The game didn’t start well for the Kildangan lads as St. Kevin’s scored a goal almost straight from the throw-in. A sweeping attack down the right-hand side eventually saw the ball played across the square where it was fisted to the net by an in-rushing attacker. Such a poor start would have shaken many sides and although St. Kevin’s dominated the early exchanges the Kildangan defence, superbly marshalled down the middle by Cian O’Dowd and Caleb Schofield, held firm.  


With 5 mins gone a rapid Kildangan counter attack was rounded off by a neat Joseph Walsh point. Almost directly from the kick out Cian Reilly started and finished a move with another point and Kildangan were now firmly back in the game.  


From Conor Callan in goals the defensive unit began to find their feet with Killian Scully and Stephen Murtagh getting to grips with their opponents, wing backs Josh Fagan and Joe Broughall began to get on top across the half-back line and the Kildangan lads gradually settled into the game.  


Midfielders Cian Reilly and Luke McKenna began to show their ability to win ball and move it swiftly into attack, providing the lively forward line with the ammunition to weave their magic.  


After the concession of the early goal Kildangan actually outscored their opponents by 4 – 9 to 4 – 8 over the remaining 59 mins of the game and were arguably the better side for much of that periodSome of the football displayed by the lads in green and gold, especially in the first half, was a joy to behold and the great team work and clever football they displayed left no one in any doubt that this was a final they were determined to win.  


With 10 mins gone on the clock St. Kevin’s led by two points but for the next 15 minutes Kildangan really opened up and with the half forward lined of Oisin Irvin, Joseph Walsh and Alan Donoher demonstrating a massive desire to pick up the breaks around the middle of the field, Kildangan worked a free which Cian Reilly dispatched with his left foot. The score of the game then followed as the excellent Joe Broughall won a ball he should never have got his hands on and shipped it quickly to Oisin Irvin. The wing forward fed Luke McKenna with a lovely pass before the young midfielder noticed his centre field partner Cian Reilly breaking through the middle off his shoulder. McKenna’s beautifully weighted hand pass allowed Reilly collect the ball without breaking his stride and he smashed the ball to the back of the St. Kevin’s net. This was a team goal which would have graced an All-Ireland final, but the fact that it was crafted with a level of skill and awareness that one would associate with a good senior team demonstrates the ability that this young Kildangan team possess 


Kildangan were now well and truly on top and with Eoin Callan proving a real handful for the St. Kevin’s full-back line and the lively movement of corner forwards Sam Cooke and Ieuan Gabor-Sweeney creating space in the attack, Cian Reilly added another point to stretch the lead to 3 points.  


A break-away 'Kevins goal very much against the run of play levelled matters by the 20th minute but this set-back didn’t knock the focus of the Kildangan lads and they roared back with points from Eoin Callan and Luke McKenna to re-establish a two point lead. Substitute Jamie Fitzpatrick was then involved in a move which ultimately saw Joseph Walsh up-ended and Cian Reilly landed the free as the half time whistle approached. The game then entered a crucial 2 minute spell which saw the Kildangan lads lose concentration and concede two goals which left Kevin’s ahead at half-time on a score-line of 4 – 1 to 1 – 7.  


This set back just before half time might have resulted in Kildangan feeling it wasn’t to be their day, but this bunch of players are made of stern stuff and they levelled matters as Cian Reilly again hit the back of the net following a determined run through the St. Kevin’s rear-guard.  


It was at this stage of the game that the 'Kevin’s lads made the move that ultimately landed the spoils. Their superior physical size around the middle third of the pitch began to tell and they reeled off four unanswered points to lead by 4 – 5 to 2 - 7 as the game entered the final 10 mins. But Kildangan would simply not give in and they dug deep and displayed bravery and commitment beyond their years to drag themselves back into contention. Joseph Walsh popped up with his second point of the game to steady the ship and you could see the belief pouring from the Kildangan players in spite of the tiredness beginning to creep in as the physical and mental effort began to take its toll.    


Youngsters Aaron Schofield and Killian Reilly came in and helped to push Kildangan forward and an Eoin Callan goal lit up the large Kildangan support and in spite of the fact that many of the lads in green and gold were now out on the feet they somehow summoned up reserves of strength to level matters 


However the St. Kevins lads were straining every muscle to secure the title and they tacked on a point to re-establish their lead and then struck for a goal which looked to have sealed the win. 

 

Kildangan were not to be outdone with Cian Reilly again popped up with a free. Kevin’s cancelled this out with a point of their own before Cian Reilly struck for his third and Kildangan’s fourth goal, but hard as they tried our gallant team could not produce the levelling score. As the game moved into injury time St. Kevins sealed their victory with a well worked point to run out winners and secure the title on a final score line of 5 – 8 to 4 – 9.  


Though they came up just short over the hour the fighting spirit and never say die attitude displayed by the Kildangan lads was a credit to every one of them. In footballing terms this group have grown from boys to young men over the course of this campaign. Tears were shed by many at the final whistle but the lads took their defeat on the chin and were very gracious in their congratulations to the victors.  


The management team of Mel O’Dowd, Luke Sweeny and John Reilly, as well as their parents and guardians can be very proud of the achievement of this wonderful bunch of young players right throughout this league campaign, where the semi-final victory over Allenwood, as well as the victory over the same side in the group stage of the competition, also stand out as great team performances.  

Well done to each and every one of the squad.

Match Report John Reilly

 

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