Saturday 24 March 2018

Chloe stars on her comeback

Brian Baneham

O'DWYER'S Chloe Johnston on her return from a serious injury gave a player of the match performance in a thriller of an U-12 Ladies clash at Bremore Park on Saturday.

The home side, having taken full advantage of a strong wind, notched up a considerable lead at the break. However, an Aoife O' Sullivan thunderbolt on the stroke of half time signalled what would become the launch pad for an Erin go Bragh fight back.

In front of a sizeable home following, O'Dwyer's duo Amy Gibbons and Alix McNally just about edged it for midfield supremacy against the outstanding Amy Daly and Evelyn O'Sunda. Precious little of their hard earned possession was squandered as they cleverly kicked the ball into space for corner forwards Emily Whelan and Sophie Markey who combined with Leagh Farrell to open up a 1-4 to no score lead after twenty minutes.

The Balbriggan ladies threatened to have the game sewn up before half time had it not been for a tremendous treble save by Emma Cooke denying Markey (twice) and Whelan in a frenzied few seconds.

Eventually when Erin go Bragh managed to get a foothold on the game almost every attack was smothered by the speed and anticipation of Chloe Johnston and Aislinn Creamer.

Indeed one of the numerous Johnston interceptions led to a breathtaking team move just before half time. Johnston found Alix Mc Nally unmarked who exchanged hand passes with Alana Kelly and Candy Abiru before finding the excellent Sophie Markey who tapped the ball over the black spot.

Buoyed by the Aoife O' Sullivan goal before the break, Erin Go Bragh began eating into the O'Dwyer's lead. O'Sullivan almost reduced the deficit immediately after the resumption but the ever alert Kayleigh Carleton saved brilliantly to frustrate the visiting team's manager Linda Cullen.

April Baxter and Amy Dunne also made crucial blocks as O'Dwyer's struggled against the resurgent away team's onslaught. Eventually with Evelyn O'Sunda winning the majority of the kick outs, Erin Go Bragh's persistence paid off when Niamh Maher buried the ball to the corner of the net. This was followed by two quick fire points by Amy Flanagan. When Aoife O'Sullivan scrambled home another goal it looked like the comeback would be completed.

Last year Chloe Johnston suffered a broken arm and had a lengthy lay off from the game. With ten minutes left as her teammates lay under siege she emerged from a crowded penalty box with the ball and set up an attack which eventually led to a priceless goal against the run of play.

Crestfallen, the Erin Go Bragh players never recovered and when Alex Tyrell added another goal the Balbriggan side held on for a narrow victory.

Manager Kevin Farrell was quick to praise his entire squad for an outstanding performance.

O'Dwyer's: Kayleigh Carleton, Aislinn Creamer, April Baxter, Alana Kelly, Leagh Farrell, Amy Gibbons, Alex Tyrell, Alix McNally, Emily Whelan, Candy Abiru, Thai Abiru, Ellie Traynor, Sophie Markey, Chloe Johnston, Ciara Nixon, Muireann Duff, Amy Dunne, Megan Davis.

Erin go Bragh: Emma Cooke, Aoife Cullen, Niamh Maher, aoibhinn Burke, Tara Cullen, Evelyn O' Sunda, Laura Hearty, Amy Daly, Amy Flanagan, Alessa Flynn, Kirsten Foy, Aoife O' Sullivan.

Fingal Independent