Dunboyne edge epic encounter!
Simonstown v Dunboyne
U16 Division One semi final
Final Score: Dunboyne 5-06…Simonstown 5:05
Half time: Simonstown 3-04 Dunboyne 1.03
Date: 30th April 2017
Wow! What a game! We’re not sure if you paid your hard earned cash to get pay-per-view for the Trembly at Wembley on Saturday night between Anthony Joshua and Vladimir Klitschko. However, if you wanted box office entertainment at a fraction of the price (actually free!) then you could have done a whole lot worse than head to Dunboyne on Sunday evening last for this epic U16 semi final clash!!! If you thought last year’s semi (between the same clubs) was gripping then this raised the bar a few notches higher again. In the dying minutes of the game the crowd were on their feet-the players were, quite simply, out on their feet! It truly was the game with everything-tremendous 50/50 battles, absolute honesty of effort, wonderful passage of play, fabulous scores and complete raw passion.
When the sides had met in Navan almost a month earlier Dunboyne had easily seen off the home side. Simonstown were determined not to allow a repeat performance and full credit to this squad they brought a ferocious intensity to proceedings right from the off.
A bright start
Aoife Farrell opened the scoring with a free that really settled her side’s nerves. However, Dunboyne replied with two scores of their own to leave it two points to one. However, only minutes later Simonstown worked the ball down the field and suddenly Caoimhe Leddy found herself in acres of space with only their keeper to beat. She made no mistake! Simonstown had really targeted a good start to this game and that is exactly what they got. Anu Balogun then blasted over her team’s first score from play three minutes later to make it 1-2 to 2 points. When Aoife Farell pointed her second free after thirteen minutes a noticeable gap was starting to open up.
Winning the 50/50 battles
There were so many intriguing 50/50 battles playing out all over the field. The last day probably fair to say that only a handful Simonstown players had matched or gotten the better of their opponent. Here each and every player matched or outfought their south Meath equivalent
A tussle between centre forward Emma Duggan and centre back Farrell is one of those great sporting spectacles- one probing for weaknesses and one seeking to snuff out the danger- a bit like Klitschko and Joshua but without a single punch being thrown!!! Duggan got her only point from play in the first half but it’s hardly an understatement to say that she was made to work for it! Having sprinted the length of the field with Farrell in hot pursuit she somehow managed to land at the end of a Dunboyne attack and fired over from the tightest of angles with her weaker left foot.
Likewise the Orla Conlon/ Laura Furlong tussle was intriguing stuff. The last day it was probably fair to say that Furlong shaded it. Here full back Conlon was ready for what was coming and more than matched her opponent throughout. Beside Orla, in either corner Eunice and Tara were giving as good as they got while Rachel Abu and Ella Martin were, like Aoife, on red alert in the half back line whenever danger arose.
Dunboyne had demonstrated in the group stages their ability to really cut open a side when afforded the time and space to do so. However, Simonstown showed that today they were in no mood to stand back and be generous! On twenty minutes full forward Evelyn Ayelobola buried her side’s first goal-a wonderfully worked effort in which Lana Wardick, Alannagh Lyons and Chloe Kelly all helped in the build up and Evelyn clinically dispatched her shot to the roof of the net. Dunboyne were rattled now and were also seven points down!
Three minutes after Evelyn’s effort corner forward Aoife McCormack stole in and fired past Laura McCabe. Dunboyne were down but by no means out. However, Simonstown’s response proved that they were more than capable of dealing with setbacks. Captain Meabh Hanrahan lobbed over another point and Evelyn Ayelobola found the net for a second time with the first half drawing to a conclusion when she somehow managed to direct the ball past Roisin Gorey between the sticks. The result-a seven point half time lead.
Competing at kickouts
A feature of this game was how Simonstown were winning their own kickouts. Meabh and Alannagh can take a lot of the credit for this but it was great to see our wing forwards and wing backs get free so that Laura had options for her well aimed efforts.
Thankfully, we were managing to win a fair percentage of Dunboyne’s kickouts as well. On the occasions where the home side did gather Roisin Gorey’s dispatches they were being made to work seriously hard to make any inroads into the opposition defence. In early April Dunboyne had 3.06 on the board by half time. Here they had 1.03 and had had to work damned hard to get it!
The Second Half
We may have been a substantial lead but there was no denying the substantial breeze Simonstown had just enjoyed. Would the girls be able to withstand the inevitable Dunboyne onslaught in the second thirty minutes? It was the home side who tagged on the first second half score. Aoife Farrell responded with her third free to keep the gap at seven. However, Dunboyne responded with the next three scores-one of these efforts a goal. The gap was down to two.
Where this side may have buckled under similar pressure in the past here they simply got on with it. Anu Balogun had been raiding up and down the right wing throughout the first thirty causing all kinds of trouble for her marker. She burst into life just when her team’s morale was starting to sag. Picking the ball up on the right wing she soloed a full forty plus metres before dispatching a ferocious shot to the roof of the net. It was jus the pick-me-up her team mates needed.
Down but not out!
However, it was Dunboyne who grabbed the next three scores and critically all three efforts were goals. This was hugely disappointing for Simonstown as from a position where we had enjoyed a five point lead, suddenly were now four behind. Despite the turnaround the Navan girls were still not prepared to wave the white flag. Grace Gavigan, Ellie McMyler and Laura McEnery had all entered the fray during the second half and all helped Simonstown to continue to keep up the high intensity levels.
With two minutes remaining Simonstown were awarded a penalty when Caoimhe Leddy was hauled to the ground. Evelyn stepped up. Unfortunately, her well directed effort lacked a bit of power and Roisin Gorey was down like a shot to smother it. Yet again Simonstown refused to hit the canvas. Back they came and with the clock starting to tick down corner forward Aoife McCluskey stole in behind the full back line and managed to tap the ball past Gorey soccer style as she advanced off her line. Centre forward Emma Duggan showed incredible bravery to follow the trajectory of the ball and attempt to keep it from passing the line. In attempting to do so she collided with the post and injured her ankle. The goal stood. With Simonstown on the attack deep in injury time ref Finbarr Shanahan blew up the full time whistle.
Putting things in perspective
It was utter heartbreak for the travelling party. However, there was also satisfaction from an outstanding performance put in by all involved. A disappointing end result but an epic effort. Plus, the girls would do well to remember that back in Autumn of 2014 they lost to the same Dunboyne side by 6-20 to 1 goal in the U13 championship when an Aoife Farrell goal was our sole bit of consolation! For 60 minutes yesterday they matched the same team score for score, tackle for tackle, effort for effort. The girls can hold their heads up very high.
So from here Dunboyne march on to the Cup Final and we wish them the very best of luck. We meanwhile will take on Clan na nGael in the Shield Final. And while Simonstown would love another crack at Royal Gaels after the absorbing contest in Navan earlier in this competition they will most definitely have their hands full with the Athboy side. There has been absolutely nothing between the two sides in recent years and if anything the Athboy side have usually slightly shaded it.
Simonstown: Laura McCabe, Eunice Ayelobola, Orla Conlon, Tara Gallagher, Aoife Farrell, Rachel Abu, Ella Martin, Meabh Hanrahan, Alannagh Lyons, Lana Wardick, Caoimhe Leddy, Chloe Kelly, Evelyn Ayelobola, Aoife McCluskey, Hazel Walsh, Sara O’Sullivan, Ellie McMyler, Laura McEnery, Grace Gavigan, Abby Heffernan
Dunboyne: Roisin Gorey, Orlagh Kelly, Eva Troy, Keely Thoma, Chloe O’Reilly, Amy Bermingham, Aoife Boylan, Katie Bermingham, Aoife Delaney, Aideen Jones, Ciara Byrne, Emma Duggan, Aoife McCormack, Laura Furlong, Ella Kelly