A FEAST of football was laid on by new Kilkenny club Barrow Gaels as they hosted the county finals of the Peil na nOg in picturesque Graignamanagh recently.
The day kicked off with the semi-final draw which pitted Thomastown against Freshford and Kilkenny City against Piltown. Thomastown have represented Kilkenny at Feile for the past five years and have been worthy ambassadors, reaching the knockout stages three times before winning the Division 4 title in 2010.
Kilkenny City have put in a tremendous amount of work since forming a year ago with Feile their target for 2012. Piltown and Freshford are at fledgling stage at under-age level and could not match their semi final opponents, but gained great experience and now have their own targets for the year.
Following two good games the stage was set for what promised to be a well-contested battle between Thomastown and the City girls. With the two sides backboning the county under-14 side the girls knew each other well, ensuring every duel was a closely-fought one.
City started at a lightning pace, taking an early lead when Jenny O’Keeffe opened the scoring with a second minute point.
A good start got even better a few minutes later. Quickest to a loose ball close to the Thomastown square, Aoife Cantwell grabbed possession on the 14 metre line and unleashed a piledriver to the net.
The City girls were on a roll now and worked hard to extend their advantage. Momentum was with Kilkenny, as Niamh Deely, Jenny O’Keeffe and Hannah Scott added points in quick succession to stretch the gap to seven (1-4 to 0-0).
Sparked into life
Thomastown weren’t about to throw in the towel, however. They were sparked into life by Becky Walsh’s point from a tight angle, but couldn’t build on that score. Much of that frustration was down to Kilkenny goalkeeper Laura Tynan, who made some telling saves to keep her side handsomely ahead. She was called into action on the stroke of half time, back-pedalling sharply to make a great catch before clearing the ball out of danger.
Tynan’s stop was a vital one; it made sure Kilkenny City stayed six points clear at the interval (1-4 to 0-1).
Thomastown opened the second half at a great pace, determined not to let their Feile crown slip. While Becky Walsh and Aoife Cantwell traded points, ten minutes of solid Thomastown pressure ensued. Laura Tynan was called into action again when a low ball was drilled into the square behind the city backline. With two Thomastown forwards bearing down, Tynan reacted quickest and cleared the ball to safety.
At 1-5 to 0-2 a Thomastown goal could have turned the game on its head. The Grennan girls knew as much, laying siege to the Kilkenny posts, with Blaithnaid Galwey leading the charge between midfield and defence.
The holders added a point but the city girls pointed again to win 1-6 to 0-3 and were crowned Feile county champions 2012. After a hard working display at midfield Kilkenny’s Niamh Deely was named as Player of the Match.
This was a game of very high standard with superb defending on both sides and great attacking play. City had the edge in front of goal and looked threatening at every attack but were made work hard for their scores by a tight marking Thomastown rearguard.
The City girls will now move on to the national competition and will fly the flag for Kilkenny in Laois this Summer. Eoin Hennessy, Maria Twomey and their fellow selectors will have the team fully focussed and determined when the cavalcade heads for Portlaoise on June 22.
Kilkenny City - Laura Tynan, Lauren Valentine, Neasa Galwey, Shauna Valentine, Eadaoin Murphy, Michelle Teehan, Aobha O’Gorman, Jenny O’Keeffe, Niamh Deeley, Jennifer O’Keeffe, Aoife Cantwell, Caitlin Moore, Hannah Scott, Sophie O’Dwyer, Ally O’Keeffe, Ciara Delaney, Shannon Holohan, Niamh McMullan, Brianna Mallon, Michelle Burke, Ciara Deeley, Tara Clifford, Ciara Phelan, Saoirse Comerford, Izzy Carey, Kerrie Fitzgerald.
Thomastown - Niamh Sheehy, Aoife Holden, Laura Tennyson, Ava Comerford, Niamh Costigan, Aoife Naddy, Rachel Walsh, Grace O’Donnell, Blaithnaid Galwey, Ria Lawson, Marita Butler, Ailis O’Shea, Becky Walsh, Emer Farrell, Rebecca Nevin, Jenny McGuinness, Ruby Harvey, Ashleigh Morrissey, Tara O’Neill, Jill O’Neill.
Referee - Mags Doherty.
In conjunction with the Feile action, a series of blitz games was held between beaten semi-finalists Piltown and Freshford and B teams from Kilkenny City and Thomastown. Making their debut was the new Barrow Gaels club, which features players from the Graignamanagh, Rower and Goresbridge areas.
The games were evenly matched and several players shone on the day, which should bode well when under-12 county training begins shortly before the Leinster under-12 blitz is held in June.
Barrow Gaels - Eimer O’Shea, Grace McDonald, Orla O’Donnell, Sinead Lanigan, Laura Hackett, Aoife Cleere, Abbie Bolger, Maeve Ryan, Denise Byrne, Emma Fox, Kate Drennan, Hannah Moran, Jo Anna Galavan, Aoife Moore, Louise Murphy, Dearbhla Kelly, Faith Savage, Megan Ryan.
Piltown - Fiona Long, Aoife Norris, Shauna Coady, Nicola Phelan, Stacey O’Brien, Niamh Foley, Amy Walsh, Emily McCarthy, Clodagh Butler, Aoife Doyle, Hilary Balding, Alanna Gallagher, Caoimhe O’Callaghan, Lisa Norris, Megan Byrne, Marie Beth Kirby, Laura Power, Sara Jayne Brophy, Ciara Whelan.
Thomastown B - Jill O’Neill, Ruth Ryan, Lauren Deveraux, Erin Barcoe, Ashleigh Morrissey, Ciara Gardiner, Aoife O’Carroll, Caoimhe Kelly, Ciara Morrissey, Sinead Fitzpatrick, Sarah Lawlor, Iona Gardiner, Laura Nevin, Maddie Lawson, Emer Varien, Lizzie Buckley, Saidhbhe Beehan, Orla Gardiner.
Kilkenny City B - Beth Behan, Ella Brennan, Jane Cass, Saoirse Comerford-Liston, Clare Curtin, Kate Dempsey, Aoibheann DePaor, Kerry Fitzgerald, Katlyn Fitzgerald, Maeve Ging, Catriona Gough, Lucy Keane, Claire Kelly, Rachel Kelly, Hannah Kelly, Eimear McCormack, Edel Mulholland, Emma Nolan, Saoirse O’Donnell, Milda Plukaite, Laoise Prendiville, Rebecca Roche, Kate Ryan, Sarah Smith, Leah Tracey, Sinead Tuohy.
Referee - Orla McCormack