For the third time in recent weeks, Longwood’s girls experienced an agonising defeat in a League final. On this occasion it was our U13 heroes who came so close to landing the prize.
The girls performed incredibly well right from the start, Aisling Foran demonstrating her intent with a barnstorming run and well taken point with only seventeen seconds on the clock. A further three minutes had elapsed when a shot from Ella McCann deceived the Oldcastle keeper and ended up in the net. Two more quick fire points from Aisling Foran gave Longwood a commanding 1-3 to 0-0 lead with eight minutes gone. If there were any pre-match nerves, they certainly didn’t appear obvious to the large home support!
Indeed, it would take Oldcastle almost fourteen minutes to trouble the scoreboard – when the score did arrive it was, somewhat ominously, courtesy of a well-worked team goal. Credit to the girls from North Meath, they settled into the game and were the better side for the remainder of the opening half.
Longwood’s midfield duo of Foran and McCann continued to cause problems for their direct opponents and kept the scoreboard ticking over.
Oldcastle’s passing, particularly through the hands, was becoming crisper and more accurate and they were now threatening Longwood’s goal on a more regular basis. That said, the home defence superbly marshalled by Gabrielle Smyth, Ellie Saunders and the excellent Kenzie Johnson were up to the task and thwarted numerous attacks. It was only thanks to two fortuitous goals that the girls in blue were able to take a lead to the half time break.
Half-time: Longwood 1-6 Oldcastle 3-4
The second half was a much cagier affair. Both teams showed a tremendous appetite for work but struggled to convert this into scores. Oldcastle showed the greater composure in front of goals and three successive points stretched their lead out to seven points with just over ten minutes to play. But these Longwood girls are never found wanting when it comes to a battle and they summoned up one final effort, throwing everything at their opponents as the clock ticked remorselessly towards full time.
Aisling Foran, who was pulled for a couple of dubious looking over-carrying fouls, launched another ball towards the Oldcastle posts and Caoimhe Dixon managed to deflect the ball to the net. Two late points courtesy of Foran reduced the deficit to just two points but time was their enemy and the full-time whistle soon followed.
Full-time: Longwood 2-8 Oldcastle 3-7
Longwood’s tears of disappointment were drowned out by Oldcastle’s shouts of joy. Such is the way of things with finals. There can only be one winner. Congratulations to Oldcastle, they are a fine young team and deserve their moment of glory.
But Longwood's young stars can hold their heads up high. They have been the dominant team throughout the League and played extremely well for long periods of the final. The sting of defeat will pass and they will learn much from the experience. Many of the girls won’t have to wait very long to get this game out of their system as they play in the Cumann Na mBunscoil Final in Páirc Tailteann on Friday. If you have an hour or two to spare, you could do worse than go along and support this exceptional group of young footballers.
Well done to all the players and their fantastic coaches. Maigh Dearmhaí abú!
Longwood: Kelly Murphy, Abbie Lomax, Gabrielle Smyth, Tilly Leigh, Ellie Saunders, Kenzie Johnson, Ella McCann (1-2), Aisling Foran (0-6), Taylor McGee, Sarah McQuaid, Izzy Fahy, Roisin Murray, Sarah Dalton. Subs: Caoimhe Dixon (1-0), Lucy Moran, Ruby Bermingham, Airah Alawiye, Kayleigh Maguire, Isabella Giles.