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THRILLER IN SUNCROFT Leinster Ladies Junior Club Championship Quarterfinal

Leinster Ladies Junior Club Championship Quarterfinal – 2 Oct 2016 3pm.

Suncroft (Kildare) 3:16(25) Kilkenny City (Kilkenny) 3:15(24)

Suncroft had the pleasure of hosting Kilkenny City in the Leinster Club Junior Quarter final. It was a frosty morning but by the time the 3pm throw arrived the sun was shining bright and there was only a light breeze across the pitch. Suncroft hasn’t had too many opportunities to host big games but on this occasion Kevin Murphy had pulled out all the stops and had the pitch, the posts, the flags, the lines, the centre, the parking, the lot sorted and win lose or draw the home team and the visitors were provided with the best of services and facilities for the game and were well looked after. Kevin and Suncroft had put in a great effort, and the LGFA official was there on the gate to collect the euros, pity they forgot to bring the programmes. The girls that win will have another day but it would have been nice for all the players, parents and supporters to have a souvenir from the day to take home.

Suncroft were down the hill and the ref threw in the ball to get the game off to a start. Suncroft won the ball and after a few passes Ellen Dowling put over her first of the day to get things moving. Ellen was carrying an injury into the game but there was no sign of it at this early stage. Kilkenny responded immediately with a point quickly followed by another. Trina Duggan goaled and Ellen got her second point for the Croft after a pass from Stephanie Hayes. The Kilkenny attack was fast moving and well drilled and they got a point from play and quickly followed with a goal. Ellen Dowling scored on the twenty first minute to bring the Croft level at 1:03(6) each. Overall they would be level eight times in the game. Aislinn Dooly came on to add a new dimension for the Croft and it was point for point right up to half time. A point from Carla Ennis just on half time brought Kilkenny’s lead back to two points KK 1:07(10), The Croft 1:05(8). The Kilkenny forwards were fast, skillful and played some great football up the hill but the Croft ladies were up to the task. When they couldn’t drive through the middle past Chloe Foy and Muirnne Fagan they tried the wings and Paula Browne, who had an awesome game, and Sarah Browne were rock solid in the corners. As usual Anna O’Modhrainn and Abbey Lee Pool were solid on the wings supporting Chloe in the middle of the half back line. When they did get through solid keeping by Rebecca McGuirk forced them to go for points. Sophie Hobbs held the centre of the field, stopped Kilkenny in their tracks numerous times, and linked up well with the Croft attack, particularly her midfield partner, team captain and player of the match, Trina Duggan.

The second half started full tilt and a Trina Duggan point was quickly followed by and Ellen Dowling point to draw even at 1:07(10) each. Two for Kilkenny, two for the Croft, two for Kilkenny. Kilkenny had pulled three points clear by the twentieth minute of the second half but then Megan Troy, who had run a marathon on the wing, took a pass from Ciara Fennelly and laid it on for Trina Duggan. Trina went on a magnificent run up through the middle supported by Rebecca Johnson, Nicole Dooley and Carla Ennis who all got in on move before the ball ended up back with Trina and she hit the back of the net to bring it back all square 2:10(16) v 1:13(16). There were a few injuries that took a bit of time and nobody, other than the ref, knew what was on the clock as the game neared the end. The whole parish was on the edge of their seats when Aislinn Dooley collected the ball on the wing and got a good kick pass up the line to Nicole Dooley. Nicole Dooley side stepped two defenders and took her first point to give the Croft a lead. The ball travelled up and down the pitch for a few minutes, which felt like an eternity, and Kilkenny won a free and drew level just on full time. 2:11(17) v 1:14(17).

When extra time started the Croft supporters upped their game and their voices and the boy band on the dugout stage kicked into full on action. The supporters were heard during normal time but when needed the most, as the ladies were tiring, they raised their voices even louder and made sure the sixteenth player was doing his bit. Trina Duggan scored two points for the Croft without a response from Kilkenny. The Croft were well on top but missed a number of good chances to put the game away. The Kilkenny Cats had used a good few of their nine lives and were only two points down at the end of the first period of extra time. The second period of extra time kicked off and Nichole Dooley stepped in again and put the Croft three up with a great point. Trina Duggan then rattled the net again, six up, and the Croft were starting to feel a bit comfortable. As we have seen again and again with Kilkenny teams the game is not over until it’s over and they came straight back with another fast paced attack and scored a goal to bring the deficit to three points. Ellen Dowling had to be carried off the field at this point. She carried an injury into the game and was on the receiving end of some strong Kilkenny defending. Her leg was strapped up earlier to help her to stay going but the injury, the defence, and the mountain of work done eventually took its toll. Three points is a dangerous lead and Nicole Dooley took up the mantle and pointed from distance. Trina Duggan went on yet another run and pointed to give the Croft a five point lead with only a few minutes to go. Again Kilkenny piled on the pressure and the Croft defence repelled attack after attack but eventually Kilkenny got another goal to make it a two point game. The Croft management unloaded what they could from the bench but Kilkenny were still putting on the pressure and eventually won a free, which they pointed, to make it a one point game. Kilkenny were on the attack again but good pressure from the Croft ladies lead to an interception and the Croft were making their way up the pitch when the final whistle blew to the relief of the Croft players and supporters. The Croft by one, 3:16(25) to 3:15(24).

Ellen Dowling had a fantastic game and scored six points despite carrying an injury and getting a lot of attention. With her work rate, she appeared to be on the full back line and full forward line at the same time. Start to finish Paula Browne never made a mistake, stole many balls in the tackle, never lost a ball in her possession, intercepted and she got 100% value out of every ball that came in her direction. Trina Duggan was just awesome and put on the best individual display of football that was ever seen in Suncroft and probably the County. She had a personal tally of 3:06(15) but was also involved in every attack and was back to support every time the Croft backs came under pressure.

Suncroft Panel: Rebecca McGuirk, Paula Browne, Muirnne Fagan, Sarah Browne, Anna O’Modhrain, Chloe Foy, Abbie Lea Poole, Trina Duggan(C)(3:06), Sophie Hobbs, Nicole Dooley (0:03), Carla Ennis(1), Rebecca Johnson, Megan Troy, Ellen Dowling(6), Stephanie Hayes. Aislinn Dooley, Ciara Fennelly, Lorraine Foy, Caoimhe Doyle, Ellen Enright, Eve Kehoe(injured) . Mentors: Noel Pool, Owen Fagan, Alan Phelan, Sandra Johnson.

The Offaly Champions, Naomh Ciaran from Ferbane who had a good win over Louth champions, St Brides, are next. The Croft kicked a good few wides throughout the game, under a lot of pressure from the Kilkenny backs but a few poor shots as well, and if this can be tightened up a bit they are well capable of putting it up to any team.

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