WELL where do we start. Our School Girls team had performed well in the preliminary rounds down in Kerry but we all knew that the knockout gameversus Kerry kingpins and Community games All Ireland favourites St. Marys of Castleisland was going to be a challenge and a half as they had annihilated all opposition up to this point.
Obviously the Tullamore girls had not read the script. A first quarter of high intensity coupled with outstanding on ball defence from Adams Villas' Sinead Flanagan and some lovely shooting from Ballinamere's Niamh Galvin had the Tullamore team slightly ahead 8-7 after the first quarter.
We were expecting the Castleisland onslaught in the second as they put on a tall strong five but again the Tullamore girls were not overawed. Mucklagh's Laura Keyes and Katie Gleeson refused to lie down while player of the match Ballinamere's finest Una O'Brien began to show her undoubted skill. Half time came with Tullamore still in touch and only one point behind.
Our Supporters were wondering how this could happen but again the third quarter showed no let up from the girls in Orange and Blue as Charleville Road's Mia Hilliard Dolan and Spollenstown's Aine Byrne really stepped up to the mark. Two huge long range shots form Ballinamere's Julia Slattery really opened this game wide open at this stage. The last quarter loomed with both teams tied. What could coach Richie pull out of the hat for the last quarter? He needn't have worried as Knockowen's Adele Donoghue and the McGreal sisters Amy and Anna were much to the fore as they denied Castleisland any opportunity. Tullamore missed the injured Sunniva Horneck Johnson who unfortunately injured a toe swimming in the Atlantic on Friday.
As the seconds ran down and fouls mounted up Castleisland were reduced to 4 players with 25 seconds left and with Tullamore a point ahead. Unfortunately the Castleisland player remained on the court unbeknownst to all and as she was fouled going to the basket allowed the girls in red one last opportunity to draw the game which they did.
This didn't phase the Tullamore girls. It was then that Mucklagh powerhouse Sarah O'Rourke showed her class. Castleisland were not done though and led by 2 with 12 seconds remaining. An excellently ran play got an open shot for the Tullamore girls but unfortunately the shot rimmed out and Castleisland breathed a sigh of relief. Well done to the Tullamore girls who showed they were well able for the top three teams in the competition.
A group of parents from another club who watched the game stood up and applauded our girls off the court. What more could you ask for your team? Thank you to those kind parents.
The Tullamore girls had to withstand the worst of Storm Helen on Friday night. They swam in the wild Atlantic and had to tell scary ghost stories to pass the evening as the electricity supply was interrupted. Overall It was a great experience for an amazing group of girls. Thank you to parents Carmel, Mairead, Marie and Julie who travelled and stayed in the chalets with the girls and coaches Mairead and Richie. We are really lucky to have such great girls representing our club. Thank you to Kerry's Julie Stack for organising such a great event as usual.