Celbridge V Milltown, Division 5 League Final 07/05/16
Venue Hawkfield Centre of Excellence
After a hard fought and exciting match, in very wet conditions, Celbridge deservedly overcame Milltown to win the Division 5 League Final at Hawkfield. It was Milltown who started powerfully , and by the end of the first quarter their strong running game had put them 0-4 to 0-1 in the lead with Celbridge’s sole score coming from centre half forward Orla Gowran.
Gradually however Celbridge got to grips with both their opponents and the conditions. At half back line Aimee Bolger and Sinead McCabe, who both had great games, started to win more possession and drive forward. This provided a platform for Celbridge’s midfield duo of Grace Flynn and Leah Earley (Captain) to begin to dominate this area of the pitch and bring their dangerous forwards into the game. Initially Celbridge’s improving play went unrewarded as they shot a couple of wides before Gemma Kilduff pointed a free to get Celbridge’s second score of the day.
Critically by this stage Celbridge’s defence, led superbly throughout by full-back Robyn Murray, were now in command, and Milltown were not to register another score in the half. The distribution of the ball by goalkeeper Rowen O’Hara was excellent throughout the game and this helped Celbridge to dominate possession.
Eventually Celbridge got their reward for their hard work and skilful interplay when they rocked their opponents with a five goal blitz in the space of ten minutes. Following some fine passing between Leah Earley and Aoife Smyth, Eilish O’Brien finished strongly to get Celbridge’s first goal of the day. A second came almost immediately when Orla Gowran powerfully shot into the net after another fine team move. Some great battling by the full forwards forced the Milltown defence to lose the ball near their goal and Elish O’Brien calmly slotted in her second goal of the game. Celbridge were now flying and following a great run from Aimee Bolger, Alex O’Brien fired in Celbridge’s fourth goal. Celbridge were still not finished as Orla Gowran’s pass set up full forward Gemma Kilduff to score the team’s fifth goal. By half time Celbridge led by 5-4 to 0-4.
Celbridge initially started the second half in the same manner they had finished the first when Alex Casey scored her second goal of the game from the penalty spot. Despite the gap on the scoreboard Milltown to their credit never gave up, and during the first quarter of the second half some fine running play put Celbridge under a fair bit of pressure. Resolute defending and in particular some fine blocking and tackling from Robyn Murray and Emma Keane ensured that Milltown were only able to score points rather than the goals they needed to close the gap on the scoreboard. Eventually Celbridge got back on top with Niamh Plunkett and Aimee Bolger running strongly out of defence and Leah Early and Grace Flynn getting more on the ball and linking up well with Celbridge’s speedy and dangerous forwards. With the Milltown defence increasingly stretched Orla Gowran grabbed two more great goals to take her final total to 3-3 which was a great personal achievement in a final. Milltown never let Celbridge rest on their laurels however and scored two fine goals themselves as the game drew to conclusion. Fittingly, given the skill and commitment they had shown throughout the match Celbridge got the final goal of the game, and their ninth when Gemma Kilduff powerfully finished off yet another good passing move.
So congratulations to all the Celbridge Ladies and their manager Ben Bennett. Despite the very wet conditions both teams displayed such a high level of skill and commitment and were a credit to ladies football in Kildare. While the Milltown team never gave up Celbridge were just too strong in all areas of the game and their defending, passing, support play and accurate finishing were a joy to watch.
This was a real team performance and all the best to Ben and the ladies for the rest of the season. You have done Celbridge proud!
Thank you also to Brendan and Stan for attending and capturing some excellent photos of this thrilling final.
Final Score 9-6 to 2-09
★Congratulations to the Celbridge Senior Ladies ★ who won the Division 5 ★ league final ★ today ( 7-may) at Hawkfield - Well done from all of us at the Club. Final score Celbridge 9-6 Milltown 2-10.
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