Dundalk Grammar School’s second year girls hockey team made history last week when they beat reigning champions Mount Anville to clinch the Leinster Minor C title.
The girls travelled to Tree Rock Rovers Hockey Club in south Dublin as rank outsiders against a Mount Anville side who had won the title for the past five years in succession.
That tag didn’t matter to the Grammar girls though. On their way to the final, they knocked out a host of Dublin schools, such as Loreto Foxrock in the last eight and Muckross Park in the semi-finals, both of whom would have been considered hot favourites to advance.
The Dundalk school started the game brightly and looked a threat on the right flank through Dunleer AC athlete Seaghna Campbell and Aiohinn Fox-Hughes.
It was a move from the right that resulted in the Grammar taking the lead when a cross from Fox-Hughes was met at the back post by Robyn Gallen who smashed the ball home.
The Grammar girls took this lead into the break but, 10 minutes into the second half, Mount Anville scored an equaliser to tie the game.
The Dublin outfit played a direct style of hockey with their centre back playing long balls into the Dundalk circle but the Grammar’s defence of Olivia Winters, Abigail Boylan, Charlotte McShane and Aoife Kierans dealt with the pressure well.
Dundalk continued to play their style of hockey by passing the ball out of defence and attacking down the wings but three minutes before the end of normal time they were dealt a blow when they lost their captain Charlotte McShane to an eye injury. Charlotte had to be taken to hospital but the Dundalk girls vowed to fight on and win the game for their captain!
Both teams had chances to score but the game ended 1-1 after extra time which meant the final would be decided by penalty runs.
The Dundalk girls were no stranger to this pressure cooker situation. En route to the final, they beat Loreto and Muckross Park on penalty runs with goalkeeper Lauren Kenny the hero on both occasions.
After three penalty runs, Dundalk were up against it. Three one down, most observers thought the game was all over when Mount Anville’s fourth penalty taker stepped up but Dundalk goalkeeper Kenny stood tall yet again, saving the effort. Seaghna Campbell then stepped up and scored, as did Sophie Murtagh.
Dundalk needed Kenny to save Mount Anville’s last penalty to send the game to sudden death. The crowd gasped as Lauren came off her line to close down the Mount Anville player, and to the Grammar’s delight she saved the penalty.
Mount Anville went first in sudden death and again Kenny was the hero as she saved the penalty. Grammar coach Nicola Clements asked her team who would like to take the sudden death penalty and a confident Sophie Murtagh stood forward and nominated herself.
Murtagh stepped up and confidently smashed the ball home to give Dundalk Grammar the Minor C title, sparking huge celebrations amongst the Dundalk contingent.
DUNDALK GRAMMAR SCHOOL: L Kenny, O Winters, A Kierans, C McShane, S Stammchoer, E Williams, S Campbell, S Murtagh, R Gallen, A Fox Hughes, C Fay, S Stewart, Z Vallentine, E McQuade, V Swan.