The Roscommon Under 14 Ladies Footballers take on Tipperary in the All-Ireland B Semi-Final this Sunday, June 12th, at 2pm in Birr and Anne Marie O’Dowd looks back on the teams story so far.
This Sunday, Natasha Munnelly will lead out the Roscommon team in Birr. She will lead by example, as she has done throughout the competition. Natasha, along with her fellow team mates Chloe McDonnell, Kaleigh Shine, Sheena Kilroe and Laureen Shanagher, were on the Roscommon Under 14 team who reached the Semi-Final stages in 2015. They know what is expected of them and their team mates, and will want to go to the next level and reach the pinnacle of an All-Ireland Final.
The formation of this Roscommon panel has been a while in the works. Starting out early on a Saturday morning in late 2015, where the girls were put through their paces as part of the Development Squads for both Under 13 and Under 15 panels. Then there was the process of trials, and such was the depth of talent in the county it was hard to reduce the overwhelming numbers who attended. Additional sessions and trials were required to arrive at the final panel of 29. The huge numbers that attended week in, week out, highlighted the commitment of all girls who took part in the process.
April 2nd was the date which the girls worked towards. On that lovely spring day they made the trek to Tarmonbarry to take on Leitrim. After a few shaky minutes the girls settled and took control of the game, which they never looked like relinquishing, and emerged victorious on a scoreline of 5-11 to 1-6.
Next up the girls faced Mayo in Castlerea. There was tremendous support for the girls and it was felt that this would be “our day”. However, the result went against us with Mayo winning on a scoreline of 5-11 to 1-13, which did not reflect the game over the 60 minutes.
We were then to meet a tenacious Galway team in Ballyforan on April 15th. Galway got the upper hand and despite much effort by the girls the final score was Galway 5-13 Roscommon 1-3.
Our final league game was away to Sligo and it was a must win game if we wanted to compete in the Connacht “B” Final. Although it was long journey for some of the girls, they settled quickly and emerged with a victory on a scoreline of 9-10 to 2-4.
Now the serious business was about to begin, and a loss at this stage would mean the end of the campaign for this bunch of girls. The girls, their parent, and supporters all headed to Ballinlough, where over the next 60 minutes the destination of the Connacht Shield would be decided, their opponents on the day were Leitrim, and no-one under-estimated the team. After 60 long minutes, with every emotion and skill set used, the girls emerged victorious on a score line of 7-12 to 2-9.
As the President of Connacht said our “ever smiling Captain” was called upon to collect the Shield, which she did to great cheer and encouragement.
Next step for the girls is the All-Ireland Semi-Final. They are looking forward to it and relishing the next chapter in their footballing career. Who knows, this year may be their year where they get to hold aloft the All Ireland Cup.
Panel: – Natasha Munnelly (Kilmore), Aoife O’Neill (Clann na nGael), Chloe McDonnell (St Dominics), Rachel Mulligan (Castlerea St Kevins), Rebecca Collins (St Brigids), Saoirse Wynne (Boyle), Lauren Gallagher (St Brigids), Lisa O’Rourke (Castlerea), Michaela Keogh (Padraig Pearses), Orla Mullaney (Shannon Gels), Kayleigh Shine (Clann na nGael), Seonna Devaney (Shannon Gaels), Edel Beirne (Tarmonbarry), Oonagh Kelly (Four Roads), Laureen Shanagher (Elphin), Zoe O’Callaghan (Shannon Gaels), Caitin Surlis (Shannon Gaaels), Sarah Dolan (St Brigids), Joanne Regan (Strokestown), Cora Naughton (Ballinameen), Aoife Campbell (Four Roads), Aoife Leonard (Kilbride), Abby Curran (St Brigids), Clodagh Owens (Kilglass Gaels), Ellen O’Beirne (Kilbride), Holly Martin (St Brigids), Rachel Murray (St Ciarans), Sheena Kilroe (St Ciarans) and Shauna Rogers (Michael Glaveys).
Management: Noel Rogers, Sinead Keenahan, Martin Murphy, Jenny Murphy. Physio : Derek Casserly
Sponsor: Mulligan Menswear