It was very much a case of back down to earth with a bump this week, as Blessington under 8’s welcomed an in form Granada team, that had comfortably beaten a much fancied Ashwood outfit in their top of the table clash the week previously.
The 10:15 kick-off meant, pitches at dawn, again, for the tireless ground staff and with players and coaches still tucked up in bed, these trusty stalwarts worked hard to ensure the pitch was once again prepared to highest possible standard.
Just one change to the Blessington line-up this week saw Zach Power, rewarded for his 2 goal haul against Belmont last week, lead the line up front and with both sides ready for action, the match kicked off and the battle began!
From the first whistle, it was clear that this Granada team had all the hallmarks of an excellent side and that Blessington would have their work cut out if they were going to get anything out of the game. The Ford Motor Company manufactured the Granada from 1972 until it ceased production in 1996, but the Blackrock, 2012, U8, model, looked as though it was every bit as powerful as its motoring predecessor.
Much of the early action saw Granada drive forward and threaten the Blessington goal at every opportunity, however some world class goalkeeping from Patrick Foley ensured that score-line remained unchanged, for the meantime anyway.
As the half wore on, Granada’s Number 9 appeared to be the danger man and it wasn’t long before he had opened the scoring with a ferocious right foot shot, that very few keepers at any level, would have managed to save.
Further woe was to follow and within a couple of minutes their danger man, once again rattled the net with another fantastic strike.
Granada were beginning to move up through the gears now and with Blessington still stuck in neutral, it looked like they were going to race to a comfortable podium finish.
Inevitably, it wasn’t long before Granada had added a third and with half time looming, things looked extremely bleak for a miss-firing Blessington outfit. But right on the stroke of half time, Zach Power managed to get on the end of a searching ball played in behind the Granada defence and fired home from 11 yards out, to give a glimmer of hope to the home team as they headed into the half time break.
With hair driers on standby and tea cups in hand, the Blessington coaching staff delivered a comforting half-time team talk, in the hope that things would improve in the second half.
After having watched a dismal Irish performance the night before, many of the on-looking crowd feared that this team would fall into the same “trap” as the national team and put in an equally poor performance for the remainder of the game.
They needn’t have worried!
The half-time break seemed to work wonders and it wasn’t long before a revitalised Blessington side began to surge forward and put Granada under ever increasing pressure. Some excellent runs forward by Aidan King saw Granada subjected to intense pressure and it looked as if a comeback was definitely on the cards.
So much so, that Chris Callinan took a brief moment away from his linesman duties, to announce to his admiring followers, “If we get another one back, it could make things interesting”. “Don’t quote me on that”. Very interesting analysis, from an interesting man!
Blessington continued to press hard, but just as it looked like they’d get one back, Granada drove forward and against the run of play, added a fourth.
Blessington heads, unlike matches of old, never dropped and they continued to pile forward and apply massive pressure on the Granada defence. Their effort was rewarded, when Aidan King slotted home his first goal of the season from close range, to bring the deficit back to three, with twelve minutes still left to play. Despite hitting the post, having a curling free kick brilliantly saved, and a shot cleared of the line (by one of their own players!) Blessington failed to add to their 2 goal tally,
As the match drew to a close and against the run of play, Granada added another goal to ensure the result was put beyond doubt. But as the referee blew the final whistle, it was definitely the Granada team that were by far, the more relieved of the 2 sides.
As the teams shook hands and left the pitch it was one of those occasions when the performance was far more significant than the result. Despite the half time score-line and staring a heavy defeat in the face, this team put in, what was without doubt their best half of football of the season and proved with the right attitude and players that want to play for their team, anything is possible. Are you watching John Delany, are you watching…. Maybe you are!
Blessington Team: Patrick Foley, Matthew Callinan, Adian King, Bobby Gray, Jack Hardy, Shane O’Connor, Billy Moore, Emily O’Toole, Jack McManus, Zach Power.