So I guess our positive attitude didn’t win the Annie Kearney Cup final for Cavan in Gaelic Park on Sunday. Na Fianna took home the cup after an exciting game, winning us over by just 2 points.
The final took place at 2.30pm in Gaelic Park. Our team met up at the Riverdale Steakhouse beforehand at 1pm. We all congregated downstairs in the party room and chatted and joked until it was time to get serious. The team was called out. After each name and position for every person was read, we clapped. This shows the appreciation we have for that person in their position.
Sigh of relief. I wasn’t in goals. I think they realized after the last time, I am not cut out to save the ball. I was among the subs, where I belong. No surprise there. I should not even be playing with my wonky knee, but I am too stubborn.
So, game strategies were discussed, team plays and player marking. Everyone was ready to do their job. There was a good vibe and positive energy among the girls.
After a half hour of a team talk, we loaded up the cars and headed for Gaelic Park. As I said before, I wanted to travel in Nicola King’s ‘banana boat’, ie. her yellow Audi. Although, I had to sit in the back with my head down because she couldn’t see out the back window as my fuzzy hair was in the way.
We listened to ‘Big Bad Wolf’ but to be honest it didn’t really get us pumped. A tape of Garth Brooks became the music of choice in the car.
We arrived at Gaelic Park, threw the Kingspan jerseys on and togged out. I had to get not one, but my two knees strapped up by the physio. I looked like a mummy.
We jogged out onto the pitch in full force and began our warm up. As we ran from cone to cone kick-passing, soloing, and hand-passing, the sweat ran off us in the 86 degree heat. Oranges, Gatorade and plenty of water was on hand for us to re-fuel.
Both teams then followed a one man band around half of the pitch before the Irish and US national anthems were sung.
After a huddle and some last words of inspiration, Cavan and Na Fianna lined out in their positions and the referee threw the ball up. Na Fianna’s hands were on the first ball.
Because I was along the sideline, I had the perfect opportunity to document the game and write everything down, which I did on the back of a team sheet. Every score, every wide, every free, sideline, kick out won, save, you name it, I wrote it down.
From the beginning of the game it was clear it was going to be a close one. The two sides were tied ten minutes into the game, before Cavan galloped ahead with some great scores from Emma Clarke, Linda McKeown, Nicola King and Alisha Jordan.
Na Fianna were down 0-09 to 0-05 at half time, after hitting a series of wides and being denied chances on goal by super keeper Nora Kilkenny.
Red faced, heavy breathing girls filled the team circle at half time. Not much needed to be said, only brilliant work, keep it going, and some more words of wisdom from Rosie and Shaun.
The two teams returned to their positions on the field to begin the second half with Cavan winning the first ball. The first few minutes of the half were pretty even, with both teams getting some more scores on board. There was a change in the lead when Mary O’Rourke finally beat Nora Kilkenny with the first and only goal of the game.
Cavan stayed strong and continued to defend and keep the engines rolling as Na Fianna remained on top. A struggle in the heat.
‘’Kelly, are you ready?” shouted Shaun with 15 minutes of play left in the game. I got so excited that I threw my report of the entire game that I had been working on somewhere and I lost it.
After a brief warm up, I came on the field into the corner forward position. My time on the pitch was short-lived as the clock was running quickly. Na Fianna were dominant and had plenty of possession in the last minutes of the game. Cavan displayed their greatest efforts right up until the end, but it was not enough to win over the opposition.
The Annie Kearney Cup went back to the hands of Na Fianna for the second year in a row after defeating us 1-12 to 0-13.
Disappointing to say the least, but we held our heads high. We gave an excellent performance. As Rosie O’Reilly said in her speech after the game, “for a team that looked like they were going to fold a couple of weeks ago, Cavan should be proud;” and we are. We were back out training Monday evening for a light kick about and to work off what had been consumed in Danny Macs the night before.
There’s more to be won. The Championship is still up for grabs. We are determined to bring that cup back home again this year. There’s also the Ladies Sevens tournament which takes place this Saturday.
We may have been defeated on Sunday but we still have our positive attitude!
Jackie Kennedy’s granddaughter has uncannily similar looks