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Castlemartyr 04-08. Courcey Rovers 00-08

Excitement had been building all week in the local community as we counted down the days to our historic county final fixture. The children in the local schools of Castlemartyr and Ballintotis got into the spirit of the occasion and designed and produced posters supporting the girls in the final.

At last, Saturday morning arrived, and we headed en mass to Ballinlough to be part of a four fixture event with all u16 county finals being played on the one day . Our game was second on the billing throwing in at 11-45am. The girls were ready and rearing to go. All the preparations had been done and now it was time to for all their hard work to be rewarded.

Our girls lined out in our away colours as Courcey Rovers also play in red and white and as we are the younger club they got to play in their club colours. With hand shakes exchanged and good lucks expressed they stood shoulder to shoulder as the whistle was blown and the ball thrown in. All things considered, especially this time of year, the pitch was in good condition although the grass was a bit on the high side so lifting the ball would prove to be a harder task than normal. After early exchanges it was Courceys who opened the scoring in the second minute with a well taken point from way out the field aided by a very strong wind. Our midfielders, Zara Bowles and Grainne Lynch, were getting the better of their counterparts and supplied good ball into our forwards and although we created a number of good scoring chances the final shots were either blocked and cleared or went agonisingly wide. It took until the 12th minute when Zara took on the task herself and equalised with a well taken point after a great passage of play involving Aimee Morgan and Ellen Hayes Nally. Coursey Rovers realised there was no way past our full back line of Ciara Dean, Lucy Horgan and ever dependable Aisling Harty, and began picking off their points from farther out the field. They had raised the white flag a further three times without reply by the twentieth minute. The wind was a huge factor and the only way our girls could combat it was going a direct route with the ball being passed from player to player in fast and decisive moves. The last ten minutes of the first half was all about our half forwards and full forward line. Lucy Kennealy, Sadhbh Beausang and Aimee Morgan did unbelievable work outfield breaking down ball and putting Courceys defence in all sorts of trouble. The pairing of sisters Lilly and Ellen Hayes Nally along with the ever alert April Cousins on the full forward line was a deadly combination. They had their markers ran ragged and all their pressure paid off with Lilly scoring three points in the last ten minutes of the first half leaving the game drawn at four points a piece at the break.

With the strong breeze at our backs in the second half it wasn't long before its influence was felt when Aimee sent in a long range shot from out on the wing and it made its way all the way to the back of the net. The roar that went up from the supporters was unbelievable and the feeling that this could be our day was slowly dawning. From the resultant puck out Courceys traveled up the pitch won a free close in and put the ball over the bar. The play was fast flowing with neither side willing to give way and the ball traveled up and down the pitch at a frantic pace. Both defences worked tirelessly but our half back line of Faye McGrath, Caoilfhionn Barry and Ciara Steele did unbelievable work, supporting their full back line and carrying the ball out of danger and setting up our forwards in their next wave of attack. April made way for Millie Bowles, sister of Zara, half way through the second half. Aimee added three more points and Courceys two before we raised the green flag a second time when Sadhbh pounced on a short clearance and drilled the sliotar to the back of the net. Recent substitute Millie made her presence felt less than a minute later when she added a third goal to our tally. With 10 minutes to play our defence was under severe pressure with Courcey Rovers launching relentless attack after attack looking to claw back the now ever widening deficit. It's always a great comfort to have someone like Chloe Lane in goals who was rock solid as usual between the posts and dealt with any threat confidentiality, making a number of fine saves and clearances. Courceys added another point late on before Lilly, deadly as always, scored our fourth goal and Aimee added another point which was to be last score of the game. Shouts of joy and relief rang out as the final whistle blew and our girls were crowned worthy county champions. Courcey Rovers gave us a tough test and we had to be at our very best to overcome them. Huge congratulations to every one of the girls on the panel who have contributed throughout the year to get us to this day. Also well done to Johnny, Ger, Nodlaig and Helena for all their hard work and commitment to this team.

Full Team :- Chloe Lane, Ciara Dean, Aisling Harty, Lucy Horgan, Ciara Steele, Caoilfhionn Barry, Faye McGrath, Zara Bowles, Grainne Lynch, Lucy Kennealy, Sadhbh Beausang, Aimee Morgan, April Cousins, Ellen Hayes Nally (Capt.) Lilly Hayes Nally, Millie Bowles, Aisling McCarthy, Alannah Newlands, Amy Murphy, Ella Fleming, Kate Butler, Leah Peddar Duggan and Monika Jurciukontye.

After the trophy presentation and the obligatory photos we all traveled back to Castlemartyr Hall where the team was welcomed by their families, friends and supporters and were treated to a well deserved celebratory feast.

What a time it's been for our fledgling club. Who would have thought when a handful of parents got together a short number years ago to organise an ad hoc training session for their daughters it would lead to some of those very girls being crowned county champions six years later. From an idea and desire for girls to have as much opportunities as their male siblings and friends to succeed in our national sport and with the overwhelming help, encouragement and support form our local GAA club, that dream has been fulfilled. Thanks to everybody who made this day possible.

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