Leinster Schoolgirls Premier League semi-final – words by Jack McCann
High School 3 (S O’Donoghue, R Keating, A Long) Mount Anville 1 (R Moore)
On a cold but dry Friday afternoon High School and Mount Anville played out an entertaining, but frantic game at times, in the Leinster Senior Girls Premier League Semi-Final. High School, led by their captain Saoirse O’Donoghue, tipped off the first half and it took them a few minutes to get settled with Anville starting the better.
Anville’s main threat throughout came down either flank with Katie Ronan nicked the ball off the High School defence, hitting the baseline and then sending the ball across the D and the first good chance of the game came and went.
However, once High School had settled down, they started to knock the ball around with confidence through the likes of Mia Jennings and Emma Canning. Their first chance that came was put away by O’Donoghue after the ball had been brought out the left side of defence and then shifted to the right hand side and sent into the D.
Anville were unable to clear successfully as the ball pinged around the D before O’Donoghue dived in and sent it beyond the keeper from close range.
It set the game up nicely as Mount Anville continued to show lots of threat when they were able to get beyond a very good three-quarter press. In between the first and second goal of the contest, both sides were full of attacking intent, with the likes of Amy Byrne, for High School and Ronan for Mount Anville supplying plenty of pace and energy down the flanks.
The second goal came after a great run by Ruby Keating. She picked the ball up on the left of her own 25-yard line, beating a couple of Anville players in midfield. From there, space opened up in front of her and she continued forward at pace, ending up at the top of the D. There, she struck a good shot into the bottom left corner of the goal to make it 2-0.
Rather than let their heads drop, Anville appeared to get a surge of energy and had their best spell of the first half heading into the last five minutes. Led by the likes of Georgina Spillane, Anville put a large amount of pressure on High School in and around the opposition D. They won a couple of penalty corners in the space of two minutes and were able to score a goal off the first of them.
The ball was transferred to the right and while the first shot was weak, High School were unable to clear beyond the D, and it was returned to the left post where the ball was stuck into the goal by Rachel Moore to make it 2-1.
Anville got another corner, and another chance, quite quickly after, however the corner, which was shifted right again, was well saved by Catherine Harris between the sticks, low to her left.
Right before the end of the first half Haneefa Carrim cleared the ball off the line after Mount Anville had gone forward with extra confidence looking for an equaliser.
The second half, which Anville tipped off, was a reverse of the first. High School in the second half were unable to get out of their defensive 25 for more than a minute at a time as they tasted their own medicine as Anville stepped up their press, looking to pen High School in their defensive quarter as they searched for an equaliser.
Spillane for Mount Anville down the left was having a bigger say as the game went on, being the focal point for many of their attacks. High School started to utilise the pace that they had through the likes of Byrne, Keating, Jennings and Canning and attempted to catch Anville on the break on the occasions that they got around the Anville press.
Even though Anville were dominating, by the mid-stage of the second half, they were unable to take any of the chances that did come their way as High School defended resolutely through the likes of Rachel Delaney and Ailish Long, who did not stop running throughout. Anville were reduced to sending crash balls from every angle due to this defending, many of which were quite harmless.
However, when they did they did cause problems it was due to High School panicking at the back, trying to clear first time due to being under a lot of pressure from the Anville forwards. Anville did win some more penalty corners but were unable to convert with either Harris or one of the runners blocking the effort.
Any hope that Anville had of salvaging something from the game was extinguished by High School getting a goal with five minutes left. High School won a free inside the Anville 25, Ailish Long took it quickly, entered the D and sent the ball beyond the keeper into the bottom left hand corner from the right hand side to make it 3-1.
The final act of the game was another Anville corner being saved by Harris getting down well to her left and clearing the ball away, as well as one of her defenders.