Written by Darren Gallagher
In what was a repeat of the final game of our 2017 League campaign, Celbridge welcomed Cappagh on this occasion for Round 1 of the Championship. The weather & match conditions always get a mention, and for this game , it proved to be even more pertinent as the wet, wintry and cold weather proved challenging for fielding, passing & shooting in the particularly slippery conditions. Both teams were missing some of their key players, but both still fielded very strong teams (coupled with college, holidays, work commitments etc. impacting on ability of teams to prepare as they would like for the Championship). However, despite all of this, the Ladies from both teams displayed great commitment, energy & teamwork to produce a fantastic & absorbing game of football, leaving those willing to brave the elements with just reward.
Celbridge got off to a great start with a flowing move, incorporating great handling & passing skills resulting in a glorious point from Orla Gowran. However Cappagh were on the scoresheet within first 10 minutes with a well taken goal, the Mulligan sisters (too many to mention!), playing a key part in its delivery. So with ‘game on’ and end to end action following, teams swopped points, with Orla again on the scoresheet with 2 excellently taken points to bring Celbridge within one point of Cappagh. The breakthrough that was required from Celbridge came in the form of great approach play, support & finishing with ball in the back of the net from Nicole McDonagh.
The midfield & defensive structures of both teams were dominant in the later stages of the first half and although there was still great off the shoulder running and showing for the ball by the girls, the only scores in last 10 minutes came from a well taken point from Maeve O’Keeffe offset from another point from Cappagh leaving half time score at :-
Celbridge 1-4 : Cappagh 1-2
Celbridge began the second half in the same manner as middle period of the first half, with Orla again coming to the fore and adding to her points tally. However Cappagh began to find their rhythm and rattled off a goal and seven points while Celbridge failed to match their intensity, power and clinical finishing during this 15 minute period. The introduction of a number of players from Cappagh bench helped them during this period, but Celbridge continued to battle for the ball with nobody shirking their responsibility & desire to be as competitive as possible and keep in touch on the scoreboard.
Despite the challenge posed by Cappagh during this period, Celbridge adopted a defensive strategy right from the corner forwards (tighter marking, tracking back, aggressive tackling & battling qualities were clearly demonstrated). With time running out and serious energy expelled by all the girls, there was one last push from Celbridge to bridge the gap and set up a big finale. Alex was pushed further up the pitch and came up with an excellent point, followed shortly afterwards by another fine shot & goal from Orla. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts & outstanding performance from all the team, with a special mention for Nicole who marshalled midfield excellently & Orla for her attacking prowess, Cappagh deserved the result, but Ladies Football was the true winner tonight.
Another truly pulsating & entertaining game (especially with the conditions) with great credit to both teams for a very competitive and sporting match and an even closer outcome than the league encounter.
Let’s take the positives from this great team performance and face the next challenge in the Championship with a renewed vigour & come with same attitude, enthusiasm & belief. Keep up the great effort & commitment to training & well done again to the Mulligan boys, Gavin, Hillary and the Senior Ladies squad …..
Final score Celbridge 2-6 : Cappagh 2-10
Orla Gowran (1-4) ; Nicole McDonagh (1-0) ; Alex Casey & Maeve O’Keeffe (0-1)