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Blitz brings out the best in bluesprove a big hit in

Naomh Mearnóg was no place for the faint-hearted last Thursday as the Portmarnock venue hosted the national U-17 Ladies football blitz.

In a unique format, 11 teams representing nine counties across three groups played off for the Cup, Plate and Shield competitions.

And the Dublin girls were central to the drama, as they along with Cork entered two teams.

Forty girls from 23 clubs across the county - from Ballyboden St Enda's to Wild Geese - were involved and all saw significant playing time on the day.

And the teams played each other in the Plate semi-final, with Dublin 2's goal power sending them to a final with Waterford where they met a Déise team in flying form.

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Indeed, with time at a premium, penalty shoot-outs were needed to separate some of the teams and Dublin 2 edged one such tie with Cork to get out of their group.

And the skills honed during their weekly sessions in Parnell's and St Anne's were certainly on show as the girls relished the opportunity to play in the sky blue jersey.

National Development Officer Lyn Savage was thrilled with the day, as it embraced the Associations 'a game for every girl' mantra.

"The under-17 is more so about girls who might not get the chance to wear a county jersey," she said.

"They've trained for six weeks. But the main thing is that no matter what county it was today, there were a lot of new faces representing them.

"I think it brought a lot of parents out as well because it's a proud day to see your kids wearing the county jersey for the first time."

Savage explained the problems associated with the grade, with other commitments and sometimes a lack of opportunity meaning players decide to step away from the game after under-16 level.

"Under-17 is a troublesome age and there is a massive drop-out rate," she explained. "To even get girls involved at this age can be tough. So we decided to completely re-jig the structure of it and this is the first year we set it up like this with a blitz at the end."

With next year in mind, the former Dublin GPO was confident that this is a tournament that will take on a life of its own.

"The numbers of counties will definitely increase. The 'game for every girl' motto was most definitely the case today and everybody got so much football.

"It's what the counties want. Every player got to develop today. Derry, for example, beat Cork, which is unheard of in Ladies football. It's hugely progressive."

There's no doubting the roaring success it was with Savage enthusing about the drama of the penalty shoot-outs.

"I think there were four today and it was nearly more like the World Cup at times," she laughed.

Dublin Ladies under-17 squad: L McCarthy, Al Fitzpatrick (Ballyboden St Enda's); L O'Neill, S Hanafan (Castleknock); H Barron, S Fulham, N Flood (Clanna Gael Fontenoy) G Tummon (Clontarf); C Kelly (Cuala); C Rooney, N Kenny (Erin's Isle); S McManus, C Foley (Fingallians); C McDonnell, F O'Neill, C Murdiff (Foxrock Cabinteely); H Richardson (Man O' War); S Halpin (Na Fianna); K Duggan (Naomh Barróg); K Howley, A Howley (Naomh Mearnóg); N Nwanby, L Sweeney, R Davis (St Peregrine's); S Richardson, S O'Hara (O'Dwyer's); G Kirwan, K Cummins, G Flood (Raheny); M Ní Dhonnigan, S Collins (Round Tower, Clondalkin); L Gibney (St Jude's); A O'Driscoll, S O'Kelly, L Breheny (St Monica's); L Hughes (St Sylvester's); SJ Flanagan (Trinity Gaels) S Rock 
(Wild Geese).


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