Our Under 14 Ladies gave an amazing account of themselves at today’s Kilmacud All Ireland Football 7’s on what was more like a Summer day in July rather than an Autumn one in September!

Drawn in group 4 with this year’s Division One National Feile Shield Champions from Galway, Corofin, Wicklow Feile winners, St Patrick’s, and Fermoy from East Cork, it was always going to be a big ask for the girls from Antrim to deliver.

Opening against St Pat’s, the game immediately settled into a trading of goals and points, as each side fought for dominance. It took a little time for some of our girls new to sevens football to get up to speed and it appeared as the match progressed that things might go pear shaped. St Brigid’s forwards hit the woodwork 3 times as they clawed back the lead that the Wicklow champions had established but as time ticked by, we gradually gathered our momentum. Only the whistle beat us as our ascendency continued and we succumbed to a single point defeat with a 7-2 v 5-7 loss. The heads were down a little as we headed into game 2, and the toughest challenge in the group.

Corofin are one of the strongest teams in Ireland and it was clear from the start that we were going to struggle to live with them for pace and skill. The level of ability in the Galway squad was breathtaking and we had little answer for the constant barrage on our goal. Brave as our back line was, they were thwarted by a superior attack and we suffered heavily with an 8-2 to 2-2 defeat.

Detemined to bounce back, the Corofin loss seemed to galvanise our girls and they came out of the blocks against Fermoy on fire! Repeatedly our back line fed our mid and forward line, who in turn, in the shape of Emma Ferrin, Eimear Matthews, Sorcha McGarvey, Anna Moore and Rebecca Doyle ripped into the Cork squad with a vigour that was hard to quell. Despite a few slip ups at the back, St Brigid’s battled to a 5-6 v 3-3 victory and the tails were back up! With other results playing out, we just failed making runner up in the group and headed into the Shield competion against Roscommon Gaels from Group 3.

The previous win brought out the best in our girls as they went after a quarter final place, and they began an onslaught which very few teams could have lived with. As our rolling  defensive line including Fionn Laverty, Caitlyn Fryers, Darcey Smyth and Goalkeeper Tara Graham soaked up every loose ball, our attacking line reigned down havoc on the Roscommon Girls’ goal and by the final whistle, we had delivered 6 goals and 7 points completely unanswered. This is only the second time in four years that we have seen St Brigid’s deliver a clean sheet! No easy task!

Time now to move from our base at Colaiste Eoin as we headed for the beautiful host venue of competition hosts, Kilmacud Crokes for a quarter final decider against St Eunan’s, who are pushing hard for the Donegal Division One Championship. Like our first game against St Pat’s, this was going to be a titanic battle as each team traded blows but finally came down to whoever blinked first, and that team was St Eunan’s. A hard fought 2-5 v 2-1 victory, and onwards we went!

So now, a semi final against two time Shield winners, Dungarvan of Waterford, County Champions 2013 and Championshphip finalists 2014.

From the blow, the girls new that they were in a battle for their lives and some of the treatment that was handed out to our forwards would not have looked out of place in a cage fight as they were repeatedly ’emptied’ by the Dungarvan defence. Two clear penalty claims were dismissed and our backs found themselves chasing down a team that new how to punish any mistake, having been here two previous occasions. Our girls’ spirit was clearly dented as they fought valiantly to take the game to the Waterford girls. It was to be a ‘match to many’ for our brave squad who were finally beaten into submission in a 4-2 v 2-1 loss. Nothing can be taken away from our girls as they equalled St Brigid’s best ever performance at the Kilmacuds’.  Going out to eventual (3rd time!) winners Dungarvan is no sleight on the day’s performance and every one of the team did the club proud!

Congratulations to Tara, Caitlyn, Darcey, Emma, Maeve, Eimear, Rebecca, Anna, Sorcha, Fionn, Teresa and Niamh. Joanne and Damien O’Kane, Ronan, Danielle and Philip, thanks for your support. To both competition winners, congratulations.  To our hosts, the Kilmacud Crokes, thank you for another wonderful day and hopefully, we go one better next year!