The Tir Conaill Harps U-14 squad travelled to Kildare recently to
compete in the 2009 Feile Cill Dara. The weekend began with a
challenge match against Dublin side Ballymun Kickhams on the thursday
evening. The lads made light of the long journey and AstroTurf pitch
by racing into an early lead, with Scott Kennedy notching a couple of
sublime scores. The Dubs greater numbers told in the second half, and
pulled into a three point lead. However, it took a wonder save to deny
a TCH goal in the dying seconds to deny the boys a deserved draw, in a
match which boosted confidence considerably.
Upon arrival at our host club of Cappagh, we had our first game of the
Feile. After a guard of honour from the Kildare side, our boys got
their first taste of Kildare football. Playing with a strong wind, the
locals showed some lovely touches and raced into a strong lead.
However, in the second hlaf the Harps rallied and as the hosts tired,
Liam McSherry rifled in two goals to bring TCH back into the game. At
the final whistle the boys were beaten 0-11 to 2-0.
Our second game took place on the Saturday morning, against Raheens of
Kildare. The conditions took a turn for the worst as the heavens
opened at throw-in. However the rain failed to stop a cracking game of
football from breaking out. Raheens, again with a strong wind, raced
into a seven point lead, before Martin Mullally tacked on a vital
point before half time. The half time team talk worked wonders as the
Harps came out in the second half with a display of courage and skill
that was a joy to watch. Two McSherry points and a great effort from
Darius Stewart reduced the arrears to three. With captain Jack McGowan
driving the team on from centrehalf back, the harps had their tails
up. After another Kildare point, the Harps were awarded a penalty just
as the net was preparing to be hit. Declan Wilson stepped up, however
as he struck the ball he slipped, and his shot that was destined for
the postage stamp struck the bar. First to respond was Darius, who
took the safe option of a point. Another two Raheens points stretched
the lead to 5. At this point the Harps lost their talianic captain
Jack to injury for around five minute. Seeing the effect he was having
on the game it might have been five hours. Young Wilson atoned for his
penalty miss with a sweet finish into the net to cut the gap to two,
and had the Harps believing they could win. However, football can be a
cruel mistress, as Raheens swept up the park with menace. Thomas
Friel, who starred between the posts, could only tip an effort onto
the post, where the ball fell kindly for a tap in goal. The final
whistle blew with the Harps having come agonizingly close to a famous
victory. Final score was 2-7 to 1-5.
In the Final game, we came up against the group winners from Wicklow.
This was a very strong team, and the general thoughts were they were
at least one division higher. The much changed Harps were caught a tad
cold in this game. However, they didn't let their heads drop, and in
the end managed to score a goal (more than the two Kildare teams had
managed in fact). Final score was 6-3 to 1-0, although this game was
blighted by a mini TCH injury crisis.
In all, it was a very successful weekend for the U-14s on the pitch
and off it. The boys made lots of new friends, and the club itself
found a new friend in rural Kildare. We were honoured with a function
at Meath legend Mick Lyons' country club, where a great night was had
By showing spirit, determination and no lack of skill, our young
charges achieved so much, off very little game to to prepare. With
only two players overage for next year, plans are already in motion to
ensure this talented bunch give themselves every chance of surpassing
this years performances. The boys were a credit to themselves and the
club and filled all the coaches with immense pride.