COUNTY champions Skibbereen AFC Girls reached the Aldi Community Games Munster indoor soccer finals before losing out to Tipperary at the University of Limerick.
Deirdre Walsh and Ger Carey’s young squad were Cork’s representatives at the regional finals and did their club and region proud by producing three excellent displays.
The Baltimore Road club won a triangular tournament held at the Skibbereen Sports Centre to become county champions recently, overcoming Beara and Enniskeane to reach the provincial finals.
In Limerick, an early morning kick-off saw Skibb take on Waterford in the quarter-finals and the West Cork girls underlined their quality with a comprehensive 16-2 victory. Skibbereen’s goals came courtesy of the talented Maebh Collins who found the net seven times along with five from Hannah Sheehy, an Alaia O’Sullivan hat-trick plus an additional Leah Carey effort.
Skibbereen had little time to bask in the glow of such a powerful display ahead of a semi-final showdown with Kerry. Both sides contributed to a marvellous contest that ended 6-6 before two short periods of extra time that saw the Cork representatives add two further goals to book their place in the decider. Alaia O’Sullivan grabbed the headlines in this encounter, scoring six times with Maebh Collins adding a brace.
The West Cork club had even less time to rest ahead of their Munster final appearance because of those two periods of extra time against Kerry. In contrast, their opponents, Tipperary, had the benefit of bye in the opening round before knocking out Limerick in the semi-finals and enjoying longer rest period ahead of kick off.
Despite tiring limbs and sweltering conditions, Skibbereen once again dug deep and pushed Tipperary to the limit with the sides changing ends tied 2-2.
An own goal and Maebh Collins effort ensuring Skibb statyed in touch heading into the second half. Missed scoring opportunities and a superb display from Tipp’s goalkeeper thwarted Skibbereen’s attempts to edge in front before Tipperary scored twice to cement a 4-2 victory.
Disappointed not to have claimed the top prize, Skibbereen should take heart from going all the way to Munster final at the first time of asking and bringing a deserved set of silver medals back to West Cork. The future looks bright for this group of talented Skibbereen footballers.
The Skibbereen AFC squad that represented Cork at the Aldi Community Games finals included Amy McKennedy, Hannah Sheehy, Becca Sheehy, Maebh Collins, Leah Carey, Alaia O’Sullivan, Abby Kelleher and Ruby O’Donovan.