We travelled to Listowel last weekend in a winner take all contest in the final match of this season’s Under 15 Division 1 with both teams locked on the same points at the top of the table. Going to Listowel is never an easy task at the best of times so a gargantuan task lay ahead. We had beaten them already in Fenit but we had the rub of the green on that day so another reason for Listowel to look to beat us. Both teams were evenly matched in all aspects, both playing a similar brand of football where the long ball was used as a last resort, quick passing the order of the day resulting in a great spectacle and advert for the schoolboys game in the county. In the initial stages of the game neither team gave much ground to the other but Listowel playing with the wind which was blowing straight down the pitch towards the town had more of the territory even though possession was even. After 20 minutes Listowel started to get the ball into our box a little more often the would have liked and created a number of half chances and after 20 minutes their centre forward pounced on a loose ball to squeeze it past Brian O’Regan. 5 minutes they had another chance for number 2 but Brian dived full length to save and hold the shot which was to prove crucial in the final anaysis. In front of Brian we had different combinations of Cormac O’ Brien , Padraig O’ Mahony, Dara O’Connor, Sean Donnellan and Antoin Stanton. This defence did very well throughout and minimised the danger that Listowel posed. For the last 20 minutes of the first half our 4 in midfield got on top and despite the strong wind we broke into their half more often and forced a number of chances. Bobby O’Regan on the left had a fine match and started many of our attacks. With 5 minutes to go to halftime, he linked with Sean Higgins up front who played a quick pass to Christopher Murphy who set Jack McCarthy up just outside their box and his thunderbolt hit the post. 2 minutes later Oisin ghosted past 2 defenders on the left and shot inches over and on the stroke of halftime Christopher somehow forced 2 efforts on goal only to be thwarted by some last ditch defending and super goalkeeping. We kept the pressure up in the second half but had to be careful not to commit too many players forward as Listowel posed a threat on the counter attack. On 15 minutes we equalised through Sean who was rewarded for his tireless efforts throughout. The next 10 minutes were keenly contested but again the wind was a factor and there was more of the play in the Listowel half. In a carbon copy of the Listowel goal, Christopher Murphy was quickest to pounce on a loose ball in the box and it was 2-1 to us with 20 minutes to go. Though he is playing a year up Christopher had scored a lot of important goals for us this season. The Listowel levels dropped at this point for a few minutes, we kept up the pressure and a surging run by Bobby after yet another throughball from the outstanding Thomas Lenihan in midfield caused mayhem in their defence and he prodded home number 3. We had to endure huge pressure from here on as Listowel were not giving up without a fight and they scored froma cross with 9 minutes left. It was all out defence for us with Ciaran Carmody and Sean Higgins our only players more than 30 yards from our goals though both players provided some respite for us in this period with clever use of the ball in their half using up valuable time and pushing them back. Still our 4 midfielders had to make many clearances in this time to help out our back 5 who were immense and indeed had to be. After 4 minutes the ref blew it up and we were champions. A big comhghairdeachas to all our players who put in a huge amount throughout the year and received their reward. It was great to see them give their best and most determined performance when it was needed most. We must also commiserate with Listowel as well who were very sporting throughout and gracious to us after the game. They will have their day, have no doubt (hopefully not at our expense!). A big thank you finally to all the parents and supported and cheered us on again.
Great credit must go to all the players