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St Olafs Girls - Cumann na mBunscol

November 8, 2018

A tremendous battling performance by St Olaf's Girls footballers almost created the shock of the Cumann na mBunscol Day 1 Finals in Croker yesterday when they held a much bigger and physically stronger Scoil Áine from Shankill to a draw after two periods of extra time.  The Shankill girls powered into an early 3 point lead and it was apparent that their superior physicality was proving difficult for the lighter St Olaf's squad. However a speculative lob from midfield by Clara Sullivan was finished to the net by both Éilis Murphy and Jenny Moore to lift the hearts of the Balally girls. Scoil Áine replied instantly with a goal of their own and a pointed free from Chloe McDonald left just 2 points between the sides at half time. Olaf's improved immeasurably in the second half and it was incredible to watch the tackles and challenges particularly of the younger girls on the team. Róisín McLoughlin was superb at full back and cleared her lines time after time when it looked certain that Scoil Áine would  eventually rattle the Olaf's net. The entire defence indeed were magnificent with Sadhbh Maher, Ellen Brien and Hayleigh Gunning all outstanding. Harriet Meagan switched to centre back in the 2nd half to mark the towering No. 10, Anna Dalton and proved more than a match for her in terms of determination and grit. Kate Murray, Katie Grimes  and captain fantastic Jenny Moore were inspirational at midfield and half forward and supplied the forwards with a steady stream of attacking ball. Olaf's drew level with points from Chloe McDonald and a superb solo effort from the diminutive Clara Sullivan who was a constant thorn in the Scoil Áine side. Katie Grimes then put Olaf's into an unlikely lead with only minutes remaining only for Shankill to draw level through Siofra O'Donnell.  And so we went into extra time! Neeama Keogh replaced the injured Aisling Murphy who was superb in both attack and defence throughout the game. After the 1st period both sides had added a point apiece -and the 2nd period was just as nail-biting for both sides. Scoil Áine took the lead with a well taken score from Siofra O'Donnell again before Chloe McDonald popped over a difficult free to tie the scores with time almost up. Scoil Áine pressed the Olaf's goal constanly thereafter and heroic defensive tackling proved sufficient to prevent a winning score. The writing looked to be on the wall however when a despairing challenge by Player of the Match Róisín McLoughlin presented Síofra O'Donnell with a 14m free straight in front of the posts. It was to be the last kick of the game and the referee informed her that she must score to win. The cheers from the Olaf's supporters behind the goal told their own story as the free sailed to the left and wide and we live to fight another day!The replay will be held in January 2009 but neither the date nor the venue have yet been decided.Comhgairdeas to all the squad agus go néirí libh san ath-imirt.

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