Young Clerihan N.S. Football Heroes Defy The Odds Once Again By Aodan Wrenn.
Thursday 24th March 2011 was another brilliant day for Clerihan N.S. In the sunshine, in Moyle Rovers GAA Grounds, the young Clerihan lions once again demonstrated their football prowess, and skill, by winning the South INTO Mini Sevens Football blitz. It was a very strong line up of schools that lined out in the March sunshine. Carrick on Suir CBS and St. Marys CBS Clonmel, both from the A Division in football, travelled to lock horns with Kilsheelan, Ardfinnan, St. Michael’s N.S Clerihan and Gaelscoil Cluan Meala. In Section A Carrick on Suir came out on top by winning both games and advancing to the Blitz final, ahead of St. Marys and Kilsheelan (who both played very well it must be said). In Section B there were 3 very close, tight and exciting games. There was a strong breeze throughout the matches and this played a part in the outcome of the matches. In the first game Clerihan raced into a five points lead against Ardfinnan, with the aid of the breeze. Just before the interval Ardfinnan got a well worked goal on the break. Half time; Clerihan 0-5 Ardfinnan 1-0. Ardfinnan drew first blood in the second half with a fantastic goal. Clerihan were now on the ropes. They came back bravely however, and kicked 2 excellent points. The last few minutes saw epic action with 2 points each being traded. However at the final whistle Clerihan were 1 point up, and won the game by the skin of their teeth. Final score Clerihan 0-9 Ardfinnan 2-2. It was devastating for Ardfinnan who played magnificently and were the better team for most of the game. Ardfinnan’s football was top quality. They played a beautiful brand of football and were very unlucky to lose by a single point. In the second game Gaelscoil Clonmel beat Ardfinnan by 3 points in another excellent match. This set up the match between Gaelscoil and Clerihan, to decide who would reach the Final. This match was a masterpiece of a game. Clerihan, aided by the breeze, went in at half time 1-1 to 0-0 up. However Gaelscoil Clonmel came roaring back and went into the lead with some well taken scores. They goaled a penalty near the end to put them in the driving seat. An excellent Clerihan comeback culminated in a well worked goal, near the end, to put them 3 points up. It looked like Clerihan had the game won until, with the last play of the game, Gaelscoil scored a wonderful goal to send the match to extra time. The players were getting very tired now, playing with such intensity in the heat. In extra time Clerihan began to finally play the football that they are renowned for. It all came together in the first 5 minutes of extra time. Clerihan’s game plan came together beautifully as they blitzed Gaelscoil with 2 goals in quick succession. This was allied to 2 very good points. In the second period of extra time Clerihan added another supreme goal to take firm command. Gaelscoil continued to attack but Clerihan’s defence was outstanding. At the final whistle Clerihan won 5-5 to 2-5. Gaelscoil Clonmel had been excellent but Clerihan played out of their skins in extra time, to reach the Blitz Final. In the Final Clerihan took on the mighty Carrick on Suir CBS, the reigning Champions. Carrick won out the County INTO Mini Sevens Football Title last year, and were eager to do the 2 in a row. Clerihan were now in the company of Cumann na mBunscol giants. They had never been at this standard before. Carrick from the A Division vs Clerihan from Roinn D. Clerihan played with the wind in the first half. However Carrick struck first with a majestic 30 yard point against the breeze. It was an awesome score. Clerihan roared back with a stunning Jack Burke goal. Carrick then scored two goals in quick succession to take command of the game. However Clerihan scored two points near the end of the first half to stay in touch. Half time; Carrick CBS 2-1 Clerihan 1-2. 2 points in it. Clerihan had their backs to the wall, and now had to play against the breeze in the second half, against a brilliant Carrick outfit. Would Clerihan roll over and be defeated? Not on your life. This group of players have an UNBREAKABLE spirit. They put their shoulder to the wheel and tore into Carrick, as if everything depended on it. They delivered probably their greatest ever half of football in the second half here. It was astounding to see young players play with such belief, courage, skill and desire, against all the odds. Eoin Power and Dean O’Dwyer, 2 boys from 5th class, scored goals to put Clerihan in front. They were playing as a team, working hard for each other, contesting every ball, running themselves to a standstill in the heat. Two minutes from the end Carrick scored a brilliantly well worked goal to leave 1 point between the teams It was now 3-2 to 3-1. Carrick broke down the pitch in the last minute, creating another chance. The ball was moved into the danger zone, and it looked like it was going to be a Carrick goal. It looked all over for Clerihan, as if Carrick goaled here they would win the day. However when the Carrick forward pulled the trigger and fired a shot goalwards lionhearted Clerihan defender, and captain, Conor Horan threw himself at the ball with the courage of a soldier in battle, to block the shot and deny Carrick a goal. It was one of the greatest blocks this writer has ever seen, and I’m watching football for a long time. Once the ball was cleared up the field Willie Barrett blew the final whistle, and Clerihan had won the day. Final score Clerihan 3-2 Carrick on Suir CBS 3-1. This fine group of Clerihan footballers has won plenty over the years. Under 11 B and C County Titles. Under 13 D County Title. Under 10 Community Games County Title. However winning this blitz is one of their best ever days. Its not the end of the road for them though, as they now move on to the next round of the Mini Sevens. Its going to be very hard from here on, and they know that. However they will continue to work hard, train hard and give their absolute best in each game. That’s all we can ask of them. They are a brilliant group of young fellas, and we in Clerihan N.S are so very proud of them. The ten heroes on the day were: Aiden Phelan, Sean Maher, Captain Conor Horan, Aaron Condon, Alan O’Donnell, Eoin Power, Jack Burke, Shane Hickey, Dean O’Dwyer and Billy Norris. Each player played in each game, and every one of them contributed hugely. Thanks to Moyle Rovers GAA Club for the generous use of the lovely facilities. Thanks, sincerely, to Willie Barrett and Derek O’Mahoney for refereeing the matches of the Blitz. Finally well done to all the teams who played in the Blitz. Every one of them played very well