Saturday the 1st of September, the day before the all-Ireland final …
Blunden Drive would provide the setting on a warm, humid Autumn morning. The lads had all returned to school but would they apply the lessons they have learned throughout their young tenure? It was humid, the pitches were lush and the grounds were in need of play. This weekend we were host to two great GAA clubs with a long tradition of producing star performers, Raheny and Parnells – four matches, the grounds would be well exercised.
Match 1 O’Tooles Vs Parnells
Football can often be a game of two halves and this encounter against a good Parnells side proved to be no different. Struggling to keep pace with the opposition, the Larriers turned things around in the second half, largely dominating with really strong performances in all areas of the field. Ben and Nathan shared duty between the posts, showing great vision on kick outs and pulling off some great saves.
Captain Aaron lead the team with a commanding presence, ably assisted by Calum, Elliott McMahon and man of the match Christopher. Some wonderful interplay saw O’Tooles kick some great scores. Nathan Russell, Sam Hoey, Daryl, Calum and Lennon moved well and with intelligent play made Parnells work hard to just edge this great encounter.
Match 2 O’Tooles Vs Raheny
This encounter would provide a stern test for our young stars. Raheny were up for it, the Dublin 5 lads were hungry. Some great interlinking play, spreading the ball with movement and accuracy Raheny got on the scoreboard early on and continued to dominate the first half. Little Larriers seemed to be suffering from a summer hangover early on, but once they got into their stride it was game on!.
The usual dogged determination that had so frequently been a trait of this young team was slowly but surely returning, with half-time approaching, it was time for Mark to focus the team and rally the troops!
The second half kicked off, there was now a sense of urgency among-st our players. We were fighting for the ball, getting there first in one on one situations, every ball was challenged. The fire was lit and the belief was there. We could still win this. Some very strong performances by Troy, Ethan, Cillian Lee, Sean Collins and most notably man of the match Sean Mulligan ensured we would be in with a chance.
The hand passing was slick, our forwards were making space and the shots were starting to flow. We were unlucky with a few decisions that didn’t go our way, but we still stuck over a few points from Troy and Alex Blake. Unfortunately, it was enough to secure victory.
Our lads showed steely determination and heart to get themselves back into contention, but we lost this match in the first half, beaten by a well-deserved Raheny team.
Match 3 O’Tooles Vs Parnells
Another tough game ensued. This was a game not for the week of heart. It was mesmerizing! The Parnells and O’Tooles offering provided a showcase of grass roots GAA. Both teams were slugging it out like prize fighters or a cup final. Blow by blow, scores were coming in from both ends. The was exciting and thrilling.
Some great scores Sean Wilson Jake Curran, Mikey Webster, Patrick Folan, coupled with great defensive displays from Luke Caulfield and David Burns. Our goal keeper Reece making a great save (point blank!) would keep the spectators on their toes!
This was a very strong Parnells team, it was a feisty affair with some big hits and great tackling. Both teams should be very proud of the display they put on.
Match 4 O’Tooles Vs Raheny
Our second Raheny game ensued with a battle in midfield, whoever dominated the midfield was going to be the victors. Caitlin and Ciaran providing some great balls into the box. Our defence were marshalled by Eoin may who picked up every ball, and true intelligent play initiated the attack.
Conor and Ryan O’Dowd lead the attack and worked tirelessly to get on the ball and make some nice scores. The pick of which, was Aaron Clarkes flick, to drop the ball over the bar show great skill and putting into practice the drills we covered during the week. Short-hand, roll the defender and let it fly!
Special Thanks to all the U9’s and U10’s coaches/mentors for their insights.