Not even a couple of drenching Summer showers could put a dampener on the feast of football that was served up at Palmershill on Bank Holiday Monday, as Cashel Townâ€™s Summer soccer blitz came to a fantastic climax in front of a huge crowd of parents and supporters.
A superbly organised event in which over 160 boys and girls from Cashel and the surrounding villages participated in, has shown that when it comes to showing off the best of sporting talent, one doesnâ€™t need to look at the Olympics, but simply to make their way to the pitches in their local areas.
The blitz was run over a week and 24 games were played before the final three teams came out on top. The players themselves, ranged from five years of age, up to 13, with both boys and girls competing on an equal footing, and the semi finals and finals played on Monday, were tough, tight and ultimately, thoroughly entertaining.
First up were the U 8â€™s, and the semi finals more or less went to form, with the top two teams from the group stages, Chelsea and Liverpool, dispatching Man United and Man City on scorelines of 4-0 and 2-0 respectively. As the teams lined up for the final, Chelsea took to the field as slight favourites, having beaten their opponents already earlier in the week. But sport never ceases to throw up surprises, and Liverpool turned the form book on the head, by over-turning Chelsea on a scoreline of 2-1. The tightness of the score at the end, emphasised the closeness of the game, and the young Chelsea players were gutted after falling at the final hurdle, their first defeat of the week. But it was Liverpoolâ€™s day, and the celebrations afterwards were a joy to behold. Well done to all the teams involved. Next up were the U 10â€™s, with Spain and Germany hot favourites to emerge as victors, after already dispatching their opponents Ireland and Holland easily in the group stages. Those games finished 11-0 and 7-0 respectively, but anyone who expected similar scores in these semi finals, were truly amazed by the fighting spirit of the Irish and Holland teams. In the first game, the Spanish team were held to a 0-0 draw, and only scraped through to the finals by virtue of winning a highly enjoyable penalty shoot out by 3 goals to 2. And, in the second game, the German team who looked to be coasting early on, firing themselves into a 2-0 lead, were holding on by their fingertips at end, as the Dutch first clawed a goal back, and then peppered the goalmouth in search of an equaliser.
Alas, it wasnâ€™t meant to be, and the two fancied teams made the final as expected. The final then, was a close battle between the sides and ultimately became a game of controversial penalty decisions. With the score level at nil all, the German team were awarded a penalty, but blazed the ball high over the crossbar. Then the Spaniards had a huge shout for a penalty of their own turned down, as the referee gave them an advantage which amounted to nothing. And finally, in the closing minutes, the Germans were again awarded a second penalty, which, they finally scored, and then went on to hold out for a one nil win. The Spanish team can count themselves unlucky, but the Germans probably did enough to deserve the victory. Again, all four teams should be proud of their efforts today, and for the last week.
Finally, the U 12s took to the field, and again, form and previous results went out the window for large parts of these games. These have been probably the tightest all week, and the semi finals proved this consistency, with Shamrock Rovers taking a long time to overcome the stern resistance of the St Patrickâ€™s Athletic teams. It came down to a couple of playing errors by St Patâ€™s to allow Shams advance on a 2-0 scoreline, and install themselves as favourites to take the title. In the second game, Sligo Rovers faced Cork City, and after playing out a nil all draw last Wednesday, there was never going to be much between these either. Cork City drew first blood with a fantastic goal in the first half, and despite huge pressure, looked like they would hold out for the win. But, Sligo equalised with 5 minutes to go, and it seemed like the game was destined for the dreaded penalty shootout. However, disaster struck Sligo, undoing all their good work getting back into the game, when they conceded another goal three minutes from the end, as a deflection from one of his own players deceived the Sligo keeper, and Cork City marched on with a 2-1 win.
A highly anticipated final then, pitched the top teams of Shamrock Rovers and Cork City together, and their fortunes couldnâ€™t have contrasted more. In what was a game of nip and tuck around the field, the eventual result was decided by the most simple of abilities, that being, one team could get the ball in the net, but the other team couldnâ€™t. It seemed that every time Cork got near the Rovers goal, they scored, while Rovers were denied by brilliant saves, fantastic blocks, and a fair share of bad luck and poor shooting. By game end, Cork had put five past a dispirited Rovers team, and ran out winners on a 5 nil scoreline. Rovers didnâ€™t deserve that, but as they say, thatâ€™s sport.
All in all, the tournament was a fantastic success and all the players thoroughly enjoyed it. All players received medals, and player of the tournament trophies were given out to Cormac Carr, Bradley Barry and Ryan Oâ€™Sullivan in the boys sections, and Ciara Moloney, Ciara Duane and sisters Danielle and Marie Ryan in the girls sections. Much praise must also be paid to the organisers of the event, especially Danny Wade who kept everyone up to date with team sheets and scorelines, Joe Currivan, Paul Ryan, Kelly Anne Fennell and Liam Browne who refereed the games, and Cashelâ€™s main underage coach Michael Doyle who helped to put the tournament into place.
Praise must also be given to parents who helped out managing teams, and the club would like to ask if they would consider staying on now that the tournament has ended, and help carry on coaching these players to success on the fields all over Tipperary. What the tournament showed more than anything, is that there is a huge pool of talent available, and that these children deserve a chance to show those talents off outside of the town. And, with a possibility of schoolgirls teams entering leagues now as well as schoolboys, help and support from the community is needed more than ever to assist these children in achieving their potential. They showed this week, that they deserve that chance. Well done to everyone involved and letâ€™s keep up the good work.