On the morning of Tuesday 15th May, the St. Marnock’s Senior girls footballers travelled out to Abbotstown in search of a much needed victory in a Fingal League final. On the way to the final St. Marnock’s girls had beaten St. Cronan’s Swords, Sacred Heart of Jesus, Huntstown and Balrothery NS. In the final they were taking on Gaelscoil na Cille from Ashbourne. The coaches, Ms Phillips, Ms Cullen and Ms Ní Scanaill were busy around the school making last minute preparations that morning. Everyone who met them wished them luck.
All classes from Third to Sixth travelled on three coaches out to Abbotstown to support the girls. It was a balmy 18 degrees with a breeze blowing towards one of the goals. Marnock’s played into this breeze in the first half. The ball rolled quickly and bounced high on the all-weather pitch but the girls adjusted and quickened their pace to match it.
It was clear from the outset that Emma Lynagh was going to have her hands full. She was marking a very tall, athletic player who clearly was GS Na Cille’s star. It was this number 10 that scored most or all of the oppositions scores. Emma acquitted herself well however and had some bruising encounters with this girl to say the least!
Marnock’s moved the ball very well in the first half with notable play-makers being Millie Wilson, Chloe Crilly, Aine Mc Carthy and Ava Sheehy. The team used the wings very well and fed the ball into the full forwards, Alannah Tuite or Lucy Healy. The GS Na Cille full backs were no slouches however and kept these girls scoreless in the first half. All our first half scores came from the half forwards or midfielders, Mille Wilson, Ava Sheehy and Hannah Lynagh. Our backs kept GS na Cille’s relatively quiet in the first half also with most of the scores coming from their number 10. Alison Maddock and Jade Reid defended tenaciously near the goal. The half backs, Ciara Brogan, Shauna Doyle and Naomi McCullough weren’t shy to carry the ball away from the danger zones and to offload it to the midfielders. Both teams matched each other score for score until close to the half time whistle when GS Na Cille went one point ahead.
The match was very much in the balance but Marnock’s had the breeze in the second half which would suit their fast passing and kicking game better. It is no exaggeration to say that Marnock’s came out in the second half with all guns blazing. Millie Wilson led the barrage with a brace of goals and points. She scored 2-3 in all. She was followed close behind by Ava Sheehy with 1-2. Áine McCarthy displayed some deft footwork in midfield to evade their number 10 on numerous occasions. Hannah Lynagh was not so lucky and after bravely tackling this girl came out the worst for wear. The match was stopped for a few minutes while Emma received attention from Miss Ní Scanaill. Thankfully Emma was deemed fit to resume play and the match continued.
Alannah Tuite scored a poachers goal about halfway through the second half and Naomi McCullough got a long range point. We were about 8 points ahead at this stage and it seemed GS na Cille were out of ideas. It was just then that they rallied and their famous number 10 ran half the length of the pitch and rifled the ball past Nicole Buckley, the Marnock’s goalie. Was this girl going to take on Marnock’s on her own?
Not if Nicole Buckley had a say in it! Nicole denied the opposition at least two other goals. She displayed great reflexes and awareness between the sticks. One of the shots was so hard that Nicole could be seen shaking her hands in disbelief that they were still attached to her arms!
Gloria Juchneviciute came on for Shauna Doyle who had run herself ragged in the second half. It was then that the match was there to be won for Marnock’s. They just had to hold out against this barrage from midfield. In one particularly bruising attack, there was a knot of girls around the ball near the Marnock’s goal. Emma Lynagh was seen to emerge from the knot with the ball but she fell to the ground. The referee blew the whistle for a penalty for GS Na Cille. The Marnock’s fans shook their heads in disbelief! Was this one going to slip away from them?
Marnock’s were 5 or 6 points ahead at this stage with about 2 or three minutes left. GS Na Cille’s number 10 blasted the ball from the penalty spot straight over Nicole’s head into the roof of the net. There was nothing she could do, such was the ferocity of the shot. The Marnock’s players did not let their heads sink however. They defended admirably for the remaining couple of minutes and held onto the lead. The final score was St. Marnock’s 5-6 GS Na Cille 5-3.
The Marnock’s fans exploded with relief and celebrated wildly. Tears of relief and joy were seen on the coaches faces as they ran onto the pitch to celebrate with their team. Parents and Naomh Mearnóg mentors were equally jubilant.