Cuala’s Under 13 girls team won the Dublin C Championship Final in a titanic struggle against Naomh Barrog at Trinity Gaels last week-end. Despite their small panel this team has gone from strength to strength over the last few seasons. However, against a Naomh Barrog team that was up for the fight they faced what was by far their toughest test. Even the redoubtable Sinead Wilde, so often able to dominate an opponent, was faced by her toughest foe of the season. But, to a girl, Cuala met those challenges.
Given the strong wind and the physical nature of the encounter this was not a game for the purists.
Cuala played the first half with the wind so a lead was essential. But early efforts by Jennifer Carey, Sinead Wilde and Orla Doyle going narrowly wide was initially a cause for concern – a good lead had to be established by halftime. However, a lovely point by Orla and four spectacular goals from Sinead were just rewards for the forwards efforts. But equally importantly was the defensive effort of the team. From 1 to 15 every ball was fought over and the times that the opposition did get close to goal the defence led by Ciara Byrne and Maria Buckley cleared, scrambled, hassled to deny the opposition and keep them scoreless at half time – given them nothing, as they say.
The second half elements favoured Naomh Barrog but the resistance of Cuala was often stiffer than the wind. With Loren Fenlon and Sinead O’Sullivan becoming dominant figures and Emer McLoughlin going on pitch long pressure relieving runs it was some time before Barrog managed a score. But when they had put 2-1 on the board against Cuala’s 4-2 with 15 minutes to go one felt another goal in the Cuala net might tip the balance. But ‘twas not be. Cuala shut the door. The match finished 4-2 to 2-1.
Sinead Wilde was deservedly awarded player of the game, but this was a team effort in which all the individual battles were won by the Cuala girls. And when you do that you generally get the win and that, in a nutshell, is what happened on that windswept pitch. Well done girls!
Mary Kate O’Sullivan