THE West Cork Schoolgirls U15 Inter-League finished off an historic first-ever SFAI Gaynor Cup campaign in Longford last Saturday.
A decision to enter a West Cork team in the SFAI’s most prestigious and competitive national schoolgirls’ competition proved a successful move despite going down 5-0 to Longford last weekend.
An understrength West Cork team produced a battling display in the Gaynor Trophy semi-final but can look back on their first ever inter-league schoolgirls’ season with pride. Grace McCarthy, Lucy Nolan and Aisling O’Sullivan stood out for the visitors during a difficult afternoon. Drawn in a tough Munster group, West Cork improved with every game before contesting a semi-final in their first year at the highly competitive age-grade. A long journey to Longford may not have yielded the desired result but West Cork remain on the right path according to manager David Hall.
‘West Cork may have lost to Longford on the day but the girls’ first season, as a whole, has been hugely positive and we have made great strides in a very, very short period of time,’ Hall told The Southern Star.
‘It was a very long journey up to Longford for the girls and their families. On the day, we didn’t perform as we know we can. Look, it was the first SFAI semi-final for every single one of the girls who travelled but they will learn from it, learn from the season and come back even stronger next year.
‘There is lots to build on for next season and we were never going to be defined by this one result or any of our results during our first year in the Gaynor Cup. The girls were really up for it against Longford but it just didn’t work out.’
Successful domestic West Cork Schoolgirls U13 and U15 Schoolgirls League and Cup competitions over the past 12 months coupled with an emergence on to the national SFAI stage means schoolgirls’ football continues to evolve across the rural region. David Hall is right to say that hopes are high of building on 2021’s successes in 2022.
Little doubt that the highlight of the campaign was a 2-2 draw with Limerick County in the group phase at the beginning of November. West Cork finished off their group with a well-earned Gaynor Cup point, the first in the league’s history, thanks to Emma Hurley and Sophie O’Sullivan strikes.
That result coupled with a steady improvement throughout the season bodes well for the coming year and putting schoolgirls’ football in West Cork on the national map.
West Cork U15 Schoolgirls versus Longford: Monica Craig, Abi Sheehan, Aisling O’Sullivan, Erin McCarthy, Lucy Hurley, Aoibheann O’Driscoll, Grace McCarthy, Emma Hurley, Sophie O’Sullivan, Mia Boucher, Lucy Nolan, Ruth Connell, Fran Houlihan, Lauren Connell and Caoimhe Hurley.