A POWERFUL display has left the all-conquering Evergreen girls within touching distance of national glory.
The Kilkenny side roared into the final of the Girls’ Under-14 National Cup with a spirited performance against West Waterford outfit Cappoquin on Friday evening.
“It was absolutely fantastic,” said a beaming team boss Barry O’Neill after the final whistle. “This was their best team performance since they started training together.
“Words can’t describe how proud I am of this side,” he added. “They are a fantastic bunch.
Although scoreless at the break Evergreen had bossed possession in the first half, with striker Jenny Clifford keeping Cappoquin netminder Clodagh Glavin busy. They finally made the pressure count just a few minutes after the restart when a break from the back by Kirsty Maher was worked across goal by Laura Murphy. Waiting to pounce, Clifford made no mistake.
On the attack
Spurred on by that goal Evergreen kept on the attack, forcing the hosts to defend in numbers. Although they managed to keep the Kilkenny side at bay for a while, they were undone again midway through the half when Olivia Nolan launched an attack over the top of the defence.
Once more Clifford was on it in a flash, outmuscling two defenders before ramming her shot past Glavin.
Cappoquin did raise their game after the second goal and grabbed a late consolation in the closing stages thanks to Lauren McGregor’s penalty, but they couldn’t deny Evergreen their place in the final against Salthill Devon, who beat Listowel Celtic 2-1 in their semi-final.
The game broke new ground for the Evergreen girls, as it finished under lights - the first time they have played in such conditions.
“The fear was how the girls would perform in the conditions, as they hadn’t played under lights before, but they handled it really well,” said O’Neill.
“The girls had played well in the Leinster Cup and reached the semi-final,” he added. “We entered this competition for the experience, but the side just got better and better as the games went on.
“The team are all so dedicated, and want to play,” he added. “All they needed was the encouragement.”
The final against Salthill Devon will be played in Castlecomer, at the home of Deen Celtic, on Saturday August 6 (kick-off 6pm). The team will be busy training for the big game, but O’Neill is also hoping to send the team out in style for their big day.
“We will be fund-raising for the final,” he said. “We will be hoping to raise enough money to get tracksuits and polo shirts for the girls to mark the occasion.”
Anyone who would like to make a contribution can contact Barry O’Neill or club chairman Peter Henebry.
Cappoquin: Clodagh Glavin, Sinead O’Brien, Roisin Cahillane, Jessica Glavin, Sarah Geoghegan, Elaine Looby, Emily Power, Aisling Power, Katie Hayes, Sinead Shanahan, Lauren McGregor. Subs: Sarah Jane Smith, Keila Walsh.
Evergreen: Niamh Delaney, Aoife Brassil, Orla Conlon, Olivia Nolan, Kirsty Maher, Aoife Cantwell, Roisin Breen, Laura Greene, Jenny O’Keeffe, Laura Murphy, Jenny Clifford. Subs: Valerie Kavanagh, Sophie O’Dwyer, Megan O’Keeffe, Saoirse Comerford.