By John O’Sullivan
The full-time scores only told some of the story at the weekend’s WU17 and WU19 games.
The WU17 team went down 4-3 in a thrilling game against Shamrock Rovers, with coach Sarah Healy full of pride in her team, who were without many players due to international call-ups, injuries, and suspension. “We have a fantastic squad of 19 players, and I know I can call on any of them to go out and be capable of winning every game we play” Healy said, speaking after the game. “The players did exactly what I wanted of them, they gave their absolute all and we were exceptional in the first half, no one can catch us when we’re on that form. We pressed excellently, overturned the ball and moved possession quickly and were 3-0 up through Fiana and Lily and just dominating”
Three down, Shamrock Rovers made substitutions and pulled one back just before half time, though many felt a decision in the lead-up should have gone City’s way. Rovers played well in the second half and using all five subs, drew level before a late winner saw them take the three points. Cork City’s role was certainly made more difficult with the absences, the small squad gave their all but were out on their feet at the end of the game.
“It was tough to take” recalls Healy “but I won’t take anything away from the girls who played. They were outstanding and the spirit can be summed up with our sub keeper willing to put in a shift outfield. We know the girls were the better team for the bulk of the game, but we just were unable to freshen it up when Rovers brought on fresh legs, and that told in the end.”
By league rules, a club must have four players away on international duty before a game can be postponed. While Maebh Russell, Ellie O’Brien, and Heidi Mackin’s call-ups meant that Cork City were the best represented club in Jason Scott’s table-topping Irish Squad in Norway, the absence of three players still meant that Cork City’s crucial games against Wexford Youths and Shamrock Rovers had to go ahead.
“It would even have been nice to have the option to bring them off the bench in the second half” Healy concedes, speaking of the three international players who could not play having arrived home less than 24 hours before kick-off “but I’m just so proud of the girls who played, but it would have been nice to have fresh legs to give them the support they needed as the game wore on”.
“We’re looking forward to having everyone together ahead of our trip to Bray this weekend, and I’ve no doubt you’ll see a great response from the girls, they’re a fantastic group”.
Jess Lawton’s U19 squad went down 3-2 to DLR waves at home in Bishopstown on Sunday, facing their own challenges on the day. “It was a fantastic game, end to end throughout. We were really unfortunate, Katie (Irwin, goalkeeper) got sent off early for a handball outside the box, Let’s just say it was a very tight call” Lawton said, post-match “Unfortunately, Abby McCarthy got injured in the senior game Saturday so we had no sub keeper on the bench but Ava was brilliant, she stepped up and took on that role for the rest of the game.”
Playing with ten and an outfield player in goals for most of the game, Lawton was delighted with the performance “Even down to ten, we were great, we had been working a lot on our movement into space and switching the ball quickly and to see that come off for our first was great. Meghan and Kelly worked the ball brilliantly allowing Mia O’Connell the space to pick a lovely pass for Lauren who took her goal really well”.
The second goal had a touch of good fortune, but Lawton was quick to praise Ava Noonan’s finish “Yeah, Ava’s cross went straight into goals, but we do tell the girls that if you can place the keeper under pressure while giving your forwards a chance on the delivery, that can happen, and her delivery was excellent”.
Leading 2-1 late on, DLR applied a lot of pressure and after equalizing won a free at the edge of the box, though the support at Bishopstown didn’t all see it the way the referee did.
“It was a great free-kick, right in the top right corner, but to be fair, Ava was really close to saving it, she was brilliant throughout, all the girls were, it’s just a shame we couldn’t hang on, we definitely deserved something out of it”.
The WU19 team have a weekend off before returning to action the following weekend.