U16 A O’Meara Sliotars final
Birr 2-11 KK 3-6
On a sunny afternoon in St.Brendan's Park, Birr were crowned the U16 A O'Meara Sliotars champions after they held off a Kilcormac/Killoughey comeback late in the second half.
Birr cruised into control of the game with two early points from Ellen Regan. KK eventually got off the mark ten minutes in from a well taken Cayla Fletcher point. Birr dominated possession in the opening ten minutes as Ellen Regan broke up the right-hand wing and en route she bypassed three KK defenders to pass the ball to corner forward Faye Mulrooney who made no mistake to rattle the KK net.
Regan then followed up with two points from two placed balls as Cayla Fletcher and Jane Lowry registered points for KK to eat away at the Birr lead. It was then Caoimhe Quinn's turn to come to the rescue of teammates as her shot raised the green flag following a huge amount of pressure from the KK forwards eventually saw them rewarded for their efforts, however, this would be the double KK's last score of the half.
Kilcormac/Killoughey struggled to transfer the ball from defence to attack in the closing stages of the first half and this proved detrimental as Birr finished their first half with a purple patch tallying 1-3. Birr thundered back up the field on the hunt for a goal of their own which seen plenty of stops from Aine Currams at full back and goal keeper Sarah Meacle, the KK backs did well to push Birr back on their attack until the ball fell into the path of Ellen Regan where the Birr sharpshooter used her head to opt for the point.
This score was followed up by a huge point from the Birr captain Niamh Ryan as Birr continued their dominance of the game. With only five minutes to go in the half, Ellen Regan found the posts again from a placed ball from fifty yards out.
Kilcormac/Killoughey did their utmost to transfer the ball into the forwards however Birr defenders Ella Feenane, Ciara Murtagh, Denise Connor and Rebecca Ryan worked well to keep KK attacks at bay. Birr made huge inroads during the game by running at the Kilcormac/Killoughey defence and this was also the case for Birr's second goal again from the stick of John West Camogie Féile Skills champion Faye Mulrooney who rose and struck the dead ball to bypass the KK keeper for the second time. Referee Kieran Pat Kelly then blew the half time whistle with Birr leading 2-8 to 1-3.
It was a different Kilcormac/Killoughey side that returned to the field after the half time break to give spectators a very exciting and tense second half. Cayla Fletcher provided KK with a lifeline five minutes into the second half as Aine Currams was fouled on the 21 yard metre line. It was high drama as Cayla Fletcher stood up to take the shot and found the net following a defection from a Birr hurl into the net.
The switch of Aine Currams from full-back to full forward also paid off for the KK management as the full back found the net again moments later from a high ball into the square to put the ball past Caoimhe Kinsella.
KK followed up with another Cayla Fletcher free as the game seemed to be slipping away from Birr. Ellen Regan added another crucial point for Birr to edge out the KK comeback as only two points separated the sides going into the final ten minutes. With no wind or rain to deal with, this game provided end to end entertainment in a high scoring affair for this time of year.
KK centre back Jane Lowry aided her side with a long distance free to put just one point between the sides. The ever-reliable Ellen Regan again popped up with a score from play to widen the gap to two points in injury time. KK did not give up however but a great point from Chloe Fitzgerald on the right wing wasn't enough to cancel out Ellen Regan's presence as the centre forward as the player of the match scored the last score of the game to send the U16 A cup to Birr for the first time since 2015.
Player of the match: Ellen Regan. Ellen was a key player in almost every score for Birr along with a personal tally of 0-9. She set up Faye Mulrooney's goal and her free-taking abilities are a joy to watch. Faye Mulrooney was also an instrumental player for Birr. For her second goal, the corner forward used her head to smash the net, rising the ball and striking without catching it as she knew she was under pressure. On the KK side, Cayla Fletcher and Aine Currams really stood out.
Kilcormac/Killoughey: Aine Currams 1-0, Jane Lowry 0-2, Chloe Fitzgerald 0-1, Cayla Fletcher 1-3, Caoimhe Quinn 1-0.
Birr: Niamh Ryan 0-1, Ellen Reegan 0-9, Hannah Riley 0-1, Faye Mulrooney 2-0.
What’s next: The season ends for both teams at u16 level.
Talking point: Birr showed great composure and cleverness beyond their years throughout the game. In particular Ellen Regan's point and Faye Mulrooney's second goal.
Pitch watch: Birr was in perfect condition for the game for the time of year. The scoreboard was in place and a good crowd attended the game .