The Derry Under 17 Development Squad made the journey to Dublin to participate in the LGFA National Under 17 Academy Blitz Day at Naomh Mearnóg GAA Club in Dublin.
The Derry girls were drawn in a group with Limerick, Cork and one of two Dublin sides to participate in the fun blitz at what turned out to be a great experience for the girls. This event facilitates the opportunity for players to train at a higher level with a view to enhancing their development, and the Derry girls had put in seven weeks of effort to get here. Having been dealt the blow of non availability of Catherine McKenna and Niamh Nugent due to recent injuries the Derry girls had to face up to their unavailability before any games started.
This has been a very worthwhile exercise for the management and players and one both can build on. While Derry didn’t qualify for a final it must be remembered that teams facing Derry were Cork, Dublin and Limerick, counties with a much higher profile in Ladies Football than Derry. Also this event was aimed at development of players more so than focusing on must win competitive games. Well done to all involved and certainly the girls can bask in the glow of having beaten one of the more established Counties in Ladies Football, Cork.
Derry Panel: Lucia Mullan, Anna Frizelle, Claire Fahey, Cara Lynch, Lea Casey, Ciara McColgan, Rachel Roberts, Annie Crozier, Casey McKenna, Derbhla Wilson, Brenda Grant, Rhianna Curran, Toireasa McIlroy, Ellie McGuckin, Emma Donnelly, Anna Morrison, Jane McCloskey, Aoife McDaid, Colleen Burke, Fionnuala Flanagan, Catherine McKenna, Niamh Nugent
Limerick 3.05 Derry 2.01
In their first match against Limerick the Derry girls maybe suffered a wee bit from stage fright as in the first half Limerick ran up a 3.04 to 0.01 lead – the point for Derry coming from a fine Ellie McGuckin effort after good support play from Derbhla Wilson. In the second half Derry asserted control though and goals from Emma Donnelly and Annie Crozier to a one point reply added respectability to the scoreboard and Derry maybe realised that they were not going to be over-run in the days activities. Limerick had won 3.05 to 2.01, but signs were looking promising for the Derry girls.
Cork 1.04 Derry 2.02
In their second match Derry faced Cork, and in the first half goals from Ellie McGuckin and Annie Crozier after good support play from Colleen Burke and Jane McCloskey helped set Derry up for a comfortable half time lead. A further first half point from Emma Donnelly following a great run from Fionnuala Flanagan left Derry ahead by 2.01 to 0.02 at half time. When Ciara McColgan, who was having a fine game, was harshly given a sin-binning early in the second half, things looked ominous as Cork took control of affairs. Good defensive work though from Anna Morrison, Cara Lynch and Anna Frizelle helped limit Cork chances as Derry tried to hold on. Claire Fahey was closing the Cork attacks out too and her clearing of the danger was proving an inspiration to her team mates.
Things took a bad turn again for Derry as playmaker Annie Crozier suffered a heavy knock and had to be replaced but when Rhianna Curran pointed after good work from Toireasa McIlroy and Casey McKenna a Derry win looked possible. With good defensive tactics and good work from Lucia Mullan and Aoife McDaid along with goalkeeper Brenda Grant the Derry girls were doing their best to hold on. Second half sub Rachel Roberts was also shouldering her share of responsibility too and Lea Casey proved to be a good outlet for balls coming out of defence and relieving the pressure. Cork continued to press for the equalising score but Derry held on to beat Cork on a scoreline of 2.02 to 1.04, the undoubted highlight of the days activity.
Dublin (2) 2.05 Derry 0.04
In their third match against Dublin 2, and missing the services now of Derbhla Wilson (ankle injury), Annie Crozier and Fionnuala Flanagan (finger injury) Derry had to face a Dublin side who hadn’t won a game. Derry started well and points from Ellie McGuckin (2), one of which was a great effort from all of forty yards, Lea Casey and Casey McKenna had Derry in a 0.04 to 0.01 lead at half time. Facing in to the breeze Derry made a few changes and Brenda Grant moving to midfield helped solidify the midfield presence of the Oak Leaf girls. However two quick goals from Dublin left the Derry girls in arrears and try as they might they couldn’t get the scores. With the strengthening breeze Dublin tagged on four points to run out winners on a scoreline of 2.05 to 0.04.
Having won one from three the girls were faced with a penalty shoot out for purposes of qualification. While Derry didn’t win this it must be remembered that it is a fun event and not to be taken seriously. Derry qualified for the plate semi final against Dublin 1 or Dublin 2. In a close game Dublin 2 won and would face Derry again.
Dublin 5.02 Derry 0.02
It was disappointing to see that Dublin then amalgamated their teams, something probably not in keeping with the spirit of the competition, but maybe also a sign that they were somewhat wary of the potential problems the Derry girls could pose. In the end Dublin beat Derry 5.02 to 0.02, the two Derry points from Steelstown sharpshooter Lea Casey, thus ending by now a tired Derry team’s participation in the day’s activities.