On what turned out to be a bitterly cold night in South Kildare, Celbridge used this semi-final warm up game to bring in new players to starting line-up, empty the bench, and as it transpired, experiment with a new team formation (as you’ll see later !). Although some of us struggled to find the St. Laurence ground without the use of a Sat Nav/google maps, the girls had no problem in the finding the net with 3 excellent goals in first five minutes, coming from Gemma Kilduff, Nicole McDonagh & Grace Flynn. With Leah & Grace dominating at midfield, chance after chance opened up for the Celbridge forwards, with Ben shouting to pop the ball over the bar, but the goals continued to come, from Orla, Leah, Eilish & 2nd from Gemma. There were a number of chances spurned, but credit has to be given to the St Laurence goalie for some great saves, with woodwork helping out on a number of occasions. There were some fantastic points taken from a variety of different angles (4 from Gemma, 2 from Orla & 1 from Nichola), following great link up play with Aoife & Eilish charging forward at every opportunity, thereby creating the space & opportunity for all those scores.
Given the dominance of the midfield & attack in the first half, the Celbridge defence, ably marshalled by Rowen in goal, remained alert to any potential attacks from St Laurence with Robyn, Niamh & Kellie solid as usual. A special mention has to be made of Laura Fitz, Sinead & Laura O’F for their first starts of the campaign, where they performed admirably, and great to see the battle for positions and strength of the squad shining through. As the half time whistle was blown, the scoreline read St Laurence’s 0-1 ; Celbridge 7-7, so a tough team talk was to follow from Ben in order to keep the girls focussed for the second half.
Then came the twist in the story of the game, when Ben decided to switch the forwards to defence and vice versa. Gemma became full back, with her father remarking ‘hope she doesn’t score in this half’ (or something to that effect !) with Robyn switching to full forward. Orla & Sinead also switched positions with Hannah, Emma Barry, Emma Keane & Maeve coming on for Niamh, Grace, Aoife & Nicole. Apart from evening up the game, the changes provided the opportunity to challenge the girls to adapt to new positions, see how they would react in terms of support play, covering back and with the introduction of all subs at once, how the balance of the team would be affected.
With the second half kicking off, Celbridge were back on the offence and looked to build on their lead. Robyn was a key target and didn’t disappoint with a great display rounded off by another goal with Emma Keane also getting on the scoresheet with a fab goal. Probably one of the scores of the game came from Maeve from a tight angle on the right of the pitch popping the ball over the bar, but also her creativity and running off the ball making herself available at all times. Thankfully St Laurence provided a stiffer test for our backs in the second half, but with Orla acting as sweeper & the other defenders marking tightly, blocking down kicks & generally disrupting their attacks, opportunities & scores were limited. Eilish & Nichola increased the lead with two great points with Leah putting in another sterling performance adding to her tally with 1-1 in second half.
Not the toughest test they will face, but well done again to Ben and the Senior Ladies squad …..
Saturday 30th April
Ladies Football Senior Semi-Final
Venue: Celbridge V St Laurence’s 2: 19.00 Main Pitch