The Rocky Road to Donabate – ‘An Corn Cairdis’

Three Blessington teams, U9A, U10A and U11A took to the road on 27 May to participate in the inaugural ‘An Corn Cairdis’ (The Friendship Cup). The competition was hosted in the wonderful grounds of St Ita’s FC in the coastal town of Donabate, Co. Dublin. Dunshaughlin Youths FC and Bunclody FC also made the trip.

The weather didn’t disappoint either, the sun shone all day in a cloudless sky!!!

All teams were welcomed to the ground by Conor Tonra from St Ita’s and after brief introduction to the referees, a recap on the tournament rules and the draw the competition started.

First up from Blessington was our U11’s who were narrowly beaten by Dunshaughlin Youths in the first semi final. It was a great game but Dunshaughlin just seemed to have the edge in this one. The U11 would play Bunclody in the 3rd and 4th place play off.

Next up were our U9’s who travelled without three influential players. Their game against Bunclody was quite one-sided and they ran out clear winners and into the final against the impressive U9 Dunshaughlin team.

The U10A game was a different affair. They had to play an unfamiliar 7-a-side and two injuries in the first five minutes meant they had to shuffle the team. Shane Sargent rescued the game for his team when with 5 minutes to go got a spectacular equaliser against the home team St Ita’s (it was so fast that I missed it). 1-1 at full time. The teams could not be separated after ET and the penalty shootout went to sudden death. Thomas O’Leary looking as cool as ice, stepped up and expertly slotted his spot kick home to give his team an advantage. Paddy Brady sent Blessington into the final with a wonderful save and was mobbed by the entire Blessington set up as all three teams celebrated as one.

The first final was the U9 and unfortunately the Blessington U9 were unable to contain the slick Dunshaughlin U9 team over the full 40mins. Blessington led 2-1 and had two penalty decisions go against them which would have given Dunshaughlin a mountain to climb. However their No15 exploited the tiredness in the Blessington team who were now missing the three lads badly and won it for Dunshaughlin with a scintillating display. Despite two Blessington players carrying injuries for the last five minutes the Blessington lads did not give up until the final whistle.

Blessington U11 ran out easy winners against Bunclody to finish third in their competition.

The U10 final was a cracking game and will live long in the memory of both players and spectators. Dunshaughlin buoyed from their U9 success raced into a 2-0 lead within 7 minutes, their forwards giving the Blessington defence a torrid time. Another two injuries forced more positional changes to Blessington who now were trying to stay in the game. However as is often the way with this team they clawed their way back into this game with another goal from Thomas O’Leary. HT 2-1 and game on!

The second half saw a complete role reversal as Blessington powered back level through the inspirational Eni Ilori who dazzled the crowd and lost his marker with a step over at full speed. He cut in from the right found the back of the net with a drive the goalkeeper knew nothing about. Blessington now in the ascendency and dominating all over the pitch drove forward with intent. Adam Walsh, Cian Doyle, Folu Ilori and Aidan Murphy in particular having their games of the season and it was from their efforts that Eni with one of his trademark left foot smashes sealed the game. Aidan Murphy having won the ball back side stepped two tackles and played a wonderful pass to Shane Sargent. Shane moved the ball to Eni who from all of 20 yards let fly with a spectacular effort that shook St Ita’s grounds when it hit the back of the net.

The final moments belonged to Blessington as Tadhg Murphy, Ryan Mahon, Folu and Aidan held the line to prevent even a half chance to Dunshaughlin.

At the final whistle all three Blessington teams celebrated on the pitch in a fashion that would put Chelsea’s recent Champions League celebrations to shame!!!

As we boarded the bus with ‘An Corn Cairdis’ one chant rung out and made it a great trip back to Blessington: ‘You’ll never beat the Blesso…’

Thanks to all the players, parents, coaches and clubs especially St Ita’s for a great day.