U14 Meath v Dublin Classic!

Leinster LGFA U14 Championship

Meath v Dublin

Venue: Dunganny

Half Time: Meath 1-2 – Dublin 2-5

Full Time: Meath 4-8 – Dublin 4-9.

Referee: Paul Burke – Louth.

Jon Landau famously wrote in 1974 that he had seen the future of rock and roll and it was Bruce Springsteen. Landau was a music critic with Time Magazine and Springsteen was struggling to break through. Landau was correct even though initially Bruce found the tag heavy. Inside the last seven days I have seen the future of Meath ladies football via its U16 and U14 teams. Both teams possess footballers that are well coached, motivated, pacy and fit. And like all good teams, they move the ball through the hands. So, hats off to the coaching structures. The future is realized from the work done in the present. Ask Bruce and Landau.

Dublin? That conundrum, that indefinable entity that often root their opponents before a ball is thrown in. Those sky blue jerseys, that innate confidence can throw a team. To see your own standing often you need to look in your opponents back room. Dublin arrived in Dunganny; they came with respect for the Royal County. On exiting the team bus, one group set about laying down cones and laying out hydration. When the match started I noted their extensive managerial team wore ear pieces and communication sets. U14s, are your bleedin mad or what? No, it’s the way the game is going, a measure of how they see the opposition.

They carry an invisible halo or crown. All crowns are temporal, just waiting to be knocked to the ground. The Royal for the second week running played into a strong wind. Is Dunganny set on a mountain top? And really there was nothing between the teams. Dublin with the wind moved the long ball. The Royalettes were forced to carry the ball and this they did well. None more than Roisin McManus tumbled forward and tackled back as required. Aided and abetted by Caitriona Flynn and full back Kirsten Massey, Sky Blue attacks were repelled.

It would be fair to say that both Dublin goals came against the run of play, one of them finished exquisitely to the roof of the net by Shannon Russell. Meath’s midfield duo of Ciara Lawlor and Megan Clarke had a foothold and slowly the Royal pegged back the deficit. Half time saw Dublin lead by 2-5 to 1-2. A six point deficit wasn’t going to be terminal. The management correctly trusted the on field troops and with a fair wind behind them, the Royal simply carved Dublin to pieces. One felt marginal early calls went against them but that happens. Then Jennifer Lynch, Olivia Callan and Ciara Smyth started to carry the ball into the Dublin backs.

The pressure told and Dublin cracked. Katie Twomey cut loose with boot and hand passes, now she became the go to girl, the link. Inside her Orlaith Mallon created havoc. Goals came before a clumsy foul on the irrepressible Twomey led to a penalty. Amber Cosgrove coolly slotted it. The Yellow card gave Meath a chance to make hay.  And they did, trotting up 2-3 in that period. Katie Twomey kicked a beauty point. Now the opponent had finger tips keeping them from a bad beating. One more stamp on them and they were gone. In fairness to Dublin, they patiently got a foothold, clawed back some space, Meath ladies couldn’t really keep that pace up in such heat.

A point here, a break there and Dublin saw a little sky light. Then came a passage of play. Now I’m not going to be harsh here, it’s a testament of my belief and respect for those ladies that I say this. When a big ignorant boot was needed to relive pressure, the Royalettes perhaps played a little too much football. Intense, no, often desperate Dublin pressure forced a few turn overs. One of those led to a penalty. Now Dublin were within a score of the far better team. They goaled again and now it became a fight to the finish. Both sets of Ladies stood up. No one hid. Dublin just inched it by a point. As like last week, both teams were applauded off the pitch.

It was clearly evident the respect both sides had for each other at the end. Hands were shook, shoulders clapped and each girl tonight will lay a head on her pillow saying, I gave my all. Inches they say count, the width of the Dublin crossbar saved Dublin from an Orlaith Mallon first half rocket. Katie Twomey often had two markers, McManus and her half backs took the first half fight to Dublin. The bond between this team and management was captured, for me, by this moment. Captain Ciara Lawlor was substituted. She emptied her tank, no more to give. Then I espied her, bib on, water bottle in hand on the sideline urging on her team mates. From acorns grow great oaks.

Meath are in the Leinster final….hurray. Dublin may or may not.  If they are, they won’t fancy the next taste of Royal Relish. Well done both teams.

As it happens Meath will meet Dublin in the Leinster Final thanks to a Kildare win over Longford.

Meath: Robyn Murray; Nikki Ennis, Kirsten Massey, Hannah Moran, Olivia O’Halloran, Caitriona Flynn, Roisin McManus; Ciara Lawlor Captain, Megan Clarke, Jennifer Lynch, Olivia Callan, Ciara Smyth, Amber Cosgrove, Orlaith Mallon, Katie Twomey.

Subs: Charlie Murray for Lawlor.

Scorers: K. Twomey 1-5, O. Mallon 1-1, A. Cosgrove and O. Callan 1-0 each, M. Clarke and C. Smyth 0-1 each.

Dublin. From M O Brien; J Riordan, J McGurrin, A Rudden; A Taylor, R Callery, E O Shea; E Fields, L Pidgeon;   N Cowley, L. Caffrey, H Prior; S Russell, E Curtain, S McIntyre: A Lambe, C Smith, H Byrne.

Scores: A Lambe 1-3, S Russell 1-2, G Smith 1-1, L. Caffrey 1-0, E O Shea, E Fields and E Curtin 0-1 each.