Weekly Update No9

U-16s reach championship final
Clanns went into this championship semi-final against St. Maurs on a great run of results – including a league win over this very team. Still, home semi finals bring a lot of pressure and the lads were very nervous beforehand.  The first 10 minutes was a tight affair with the teams trading scores: three unanswered points from our lads (Jonathan, Ross and Sean) only to be followed by a strong five-minute spell from the visitors during which they won and converted a penalty. The half finished with Clanns leading 0-9 to 1-3. 

A tough team chat from Colly Reynolds at half time provided some home truths – the game was there to be taken, but the players needed to lift their work rate and the scores would come.  The large home crowd spurred the team on to a strong second-half start which saw them hitting six scores to their opponents’ two.  But the nervousness was still evident in the form of another penalty conceded and converted.  However, shortly after that St Maurs had a player sent off for an elbow on Jonathan.  Going into the last eight minutes Clanns led by seven points, with Aran and Jonathan especially driving the team towards the finishing line. Dean G’s kick outs were great in very windy conditions.  The defence stood up very well, where David B and Sean were the stand out players.  So another great win was recorded and it sets up a final against St Patricks of Donabate on Sat 25th May when, hopefully, our lads can shake off the butterflies.  Whatever the final outcome, this team is a credit to the club and continues to impress with quality football and commitment to training.
Clanna Gael Fontenoy 2-16 St Maurs 2-7

football cup game.
Travelling to Donabate last weekend with a panel of 19 players, the mentors decided to make some team changes so as not to give too much away ahead of the bigger game to come.  Despite an early goal from Brandon Kinsella and a few fine points including one from Sean Rimmer, Clanns trailed at half time by 1-3 to 0-8.  With the aid of the wind, Clanns got off to a great second-half start with Ross Maher scoring in the first minute.  A great break from Aran Doyle saw the ball worked up the pitch where it fell kindly for Eoin McCann who slotted another point. But the hosts kept their tally ticking over with some scores from frees.  Daniel Kelly nearly netted a second goal for Clanns but the goal keeper punched it over the bar. Then St Patricks broke up the pitch to hit a 50/50 ball into the box where their No 15 got a fist to it to send it to the net. Clanns created further goal chances but unfortunately were unable to make the most of them.  While Ross Maher scored another point from play, the hosts finished the stronger.
St Patricks 1-12 Clanna Gael Fontenoy 1-8

Hurlers remain unbeaten
It’s six wins out of six and joint top of Division 4 spot for the U-13 hurlers. They recorded their most comprehensive win of the season with an emphatic away victory over St Vincents.  Controlling the game from the outset, Clanns got into their scoring stride to register some really fine points after very good passages of passing play.  The scoring spree continued into the second half, this time with goals coming as well as points.  Every one of the 14 players contributed well to the performance, with Colm O’Keeffe playing probably his best game yet in a Clanns jersey.  The team was also helped in no small way by the valued contribution from a few of the U-12 squad, Conor Hennessy and Seamus McCann whose hurling skills are a match for the best. 
St Vincents 1-2 Clanna Gael Fontenoy 5-14

The team’s good form continued with a follow-up home win over St Finians from Sutton.  Once again, Clanns managed to wrest early control of the game and actually kept their visitors scoreless for the first half while clocking up 1-5.  Finians presented a stronger challenge in the second half and managed to hit the back of the net twice.  But it still wasn’t enough to catch the Clanns boys who added a couple of more goals and points to their tally.  Once again, the team was considerably reinforced by three of the U-12 squad – Colm O’Briain, Sarsfields in football and Good Counsel in hurling.  We continue to get good numbers – fielding three football teams and two hurling. 

The most challenging games were those against Lucan Sarsfields who appeared to have strength in numbers (they have 6 teams in total).  It was also apparent that they had done some extra work – especially in relation to tackling – and they proved to be formidable opponents.  Notwithstanding this, the Clanns lads stood up manfully to the challenge even on a bank holiday weekend!  The games against Kilmacud Crokes were more even – meeting three of the nine teams that Crokes have at this age group.  (A complimentary text was received after this away game thanking our parents/coaches for staying on to clear up the pitches after the matches).

The hurling team made a great account of themselves against a traditionally tough Good Counsel team.  Even playing against a very hairy-looking U-8 keeper who stopping nearly everything that came his way, Clanns proved too strong for their opponents and enjoyed the majority of possession. Commitment and fearless determination which cannot be taught was shown in this match as in all games this year.

Elements used to maximum advantage by U-11s
A depleted U-11 football team with just 14 players travelled to Portmarnock to play Naomh Mearnog in a return match after the loss in Ringsend Park back in February.  The regulation minimum is nine a side with a maximum of 11 a side at this level; but with the agreement of the Naomh Mearnog mentors a single 15-a-side match was played (the 15th man was Hugh O’Malley from the U-9 team).  The boys on both sides are well used to playing 15 a side as that is the format in the schools, but even so there was a little trepidation after a similar situation last year when this format simply didn’t work, due to the lack of positional awareness on that occasion.  In addition, there was a slight incline along the length of the pitch. This was exacerbated by the surprisingly, much of the play took place in their half of the pitch.  However, our back line played a remarkable game and stifled out many of the Naomh Mearnog attacks.  We struggled to get the ball up into the opposition’s half, but when we did our forwards were more than ready to take up the challenge. Realising that they had to keep the ball low when kicking into the wind, they exclusively aimed for goal.  This tactic actually works with forwards of the quality of this team – reflected in the fact that their three goals came from only four shooting chances and gave them a three-point lead at half time.

Though playing with the wind and down the hill in the second half, it took a little while for the halfbacks and midfield players to gauge the strength of the wind, which meant that the first few attacks petered out with the ball bouncing harmlessly over the end line.  This was soon solved with some great positional play by the wing and corner forwards which gave great passing options to the attacking midfielders.  Clanns took some marvellous scores in this half.  The point of the game belonged to Callum Kiely (right half forward) who is back playing with us after a few years.  He lofted a really high ball from far out on the right wing which landed on the back of the net – reminiscent of the Kerry footballer, Pat Spillane, in his heyday.  The goal (and score) of the game belonged to Michael Hennessy (midfield).  He picked up the ball in the centre of the pitch and made a direct run for goal.  He was tackled about 20 metres out but he was still able to let fly with a “pile-driver” into the top right hand corner of the net. 

It was truly a 15-man display in difficult conditions.  The lads are getting much wiser from a positional point of view and that showed in this game.  Team: Brian Barron, Aaron Caulfield, Tadgh Clifford-Brannock, James Crowley, Stephen Deering, Aidan Duffy, Michael Hennessy, Callum Kiely, Tadgh O’Ceallaigh, Donal O’Malley, Hugh O’Malley, Callum O’Reilly, Robert Mooney, Cian Morgan and Art Stevenson. 
Naomh Mearnog 0-6 Clanna Gael Fontenoy 5-3

Depleted squad put best foot forward
A very depleted U-11 hurling squad went out to Ballycullen last weekend to play Ballyboden’s first team. With just 13 players available Footballers on a roll
It’s three wins out of three now for the U-13 footballers following their recent win over Craobh Chiarain.  A turnout of over 22 players provided the team mentors with plenty of options, but also a challenge in trying to give everybody some playing time.  Clanns got off to a flying start and quickly worked themselves into a good lead.  They dominated much of the play during the first half to reach the half-time mark with a 6-4 to 2-1 advantage.  However, the visitors came more into the game in the second half and they in turn dominated the last 15 minutes of play in particular and considerably outscored our lads in that time.  The final whistle couldn’t come soon enough for our lads who scrambled over the line with a six-point winning margin. 
Clanna Gael Fontenoy 7-8 Craobh Chiarain 6-5

Improvement very evident with U-10 girls
In the last three weeks we have played Ballyboden St Endas, St Peregrines and Na Fianna.  The Ballyboden game was a tough but fair encounter and tested us to our very limits, but the girls battled hard and stuck with their task to record two wins and two very narrow losses.  The match against St Peregrines involved much more skill and teamwork.  Although we were missing six strong players, 20 girls turned up and produced a fantastic performance to win two games and lose two.  Great credit must go to the younger girls who performed fantastically well. It must be said that the support on the day, at times over enthusiastic, was fantastic to see – emotions do run high on the sideline!  Against Na Fianna, it was very much a game of hard work, skill and very testing weather conditions.  But again the girls achieved two wins and two losses against a very strong club. 

It must be noted that the teams we are playing against are made up of mainly 10-year-olds whereas our team consists of 7-10 year olds.  At this stage, the teamwork is improving dramatically and, with another four games to play before the summer break, the girls will continue to Clanna Gael Fontenoy and Lucan Sarsfield have enjoyed a great rivalry over the last few years with Lucan having the edge particularly at home.  However, Clanns were determined to put matters right on their most recent trip to Arthur Griffith Park. Our boys set about the match with great energy and played a near flawless first half winning all the 50-50 ball. Playing into a strong wind, they pinned Lucan down in their own half and led 5-3 to 2-2 at halftime. 

But the Lucan players are too good a team to lie down and began to up the tempo. Their movement at times stretched the defence but our boys stuck to their task and kept the scores ticking over. The match ended with a seven-point victory to Clanns, to which Jack Guinane contributed 2-1 and Christopher Cosgrove a further 3-3. Seamus McCann played a great game in midfield, with Oisin Deane controlling the half back line. Louis Clarke made sure Clanns stayed ahead with some great saves.  A lot done, a lot more to do in their bid for Division 1 South glory!
Lucan Sarsfield 5-4 Clanna Gael Fontenoy 6-8

Immense development in U-10 hurling skills
The Clanna Gael boys headed to the Commercials club in Rathcoole last Saturday to play two mixed teams from one of the strongest hurling clubs in the competition. Last time out the gap in skill and ability was pronounced, but a year makes a big difference and both teams played very bravely and with much improved skills. A few of the boys did particularly well including Barry Moylan, who was man of the match on his team, and Alex English getting some great scores. Michael Carroll and Liam O’Laoide were the best of the other team. Both teams lost but we were rightly proud of the performances.

But what a result two weeks before that when the same team had a comprehensive home victory over Bray Emmets, due in particular to great attacking play from Luke Keelan and Daniel O’Byrne.  Great defensive displays by goalkeeper Alex Culliton and defender Gavin Murphy kept the opposition to a low score. 

Club News
The Club says ‘goodbye’ shortly to our ever-popular Games Development Officer (GDO), Jonney Sadleir, who’s heading off on his travels to New Zealand with his girlfriend, Tracy.  We wish him bon voyage and the very best of luck. 
Jonney has a long and proud history of involvement with the Club, as a hurler and footballer since the age of five and as assistant to the previous Games Development Officer for a number of years before he took up the full-time position himself.  In that role he has, by common consent, done a huge amount of work in successfully developing gaelic games across the younger age groups. 

He plays his last game for the Club this Saturday 18th at 18.00hrs in Sean Moore Park – in the senior hurling championship game against St. Peregrines.  After this at 21.00hrs he wishes to invite all members and friends upstairs for a drink or two.

U-14 amalgamation with Scoil Ui Chonaill going well
In amalgamation with Scoil Ui Chonaill the U-14 boys have been extremely active lately – playing 10 competitive matches in the last month (six football /hurling league fixtures and four games in Feile football) plus five training sessions!  And it doesn’t look like slowing down with the Feile hurling plus two further league games coming up before the end of May.

The highlight of the football year for the team, the Feile Peil, took place over the first weekend of May. Based at Naomh Mearnog, Portmarnock, and in a group of four, the team performed well in beating two Division 1 teams and losing to one other team. This qualified them as runner-up from the group to go the long trek to play Cuala that afternoon in the Divisional semi-final.  Unfortunately, injuries to key players meant that we were not as strong for this match and were beaten in front of a large partisan home crowd.

Overall, the Feile was a great occasion for the players; it allowed them to enjoy themselves while showcasing the accumulation of their years of dedication and commitment to learning and practicing the skills of the game. However, a format of four games in one day is very demanding on the players in terms of physical fitness, concentration and skills – and also on the mentors!  Although somewhat disappointed with the injuries and at exiting at the semi–final stage, the boys gave a great account of themselves and can be proud of their display. Thanks goes to their coaches, particularly Ciaran Murphy, for the excellent training and words of wisdom.

Close calls for girls’ teams
The U-13 girls are doing well in the Division 2 league and took the road to Swords last Saturday looking forward to a good match with Fingallians. Even though the team was badly depleted – down at least four of the usuals – expectations were high. The match started well, and even though Fingallians scored first, guest player Katie-Rose Barry equalled the scores. Clanns definitely had the better of the first half and after a goal each from Clodagh Ferry and Ellen O’Byrne were two goals up at half time.  But the extra players began to make their presence felt for Fingallians who managed to keep constant pressure on the Clanns back line.

In the whole of the second half we managed one point from Niamh Shaw, while Fingallians clawed their way back with a goal and three points.  Then, a minute into injury time with Clanns in the lead by a single point, the opposition scored a cruel goal to win by two points – 2-4 to 2-2.  A very disappointing game to loose, but the girls had given their all. A few stand-out performances: brave goalkeeper, Laura Ferry, who saved three or four certain goals and was called out for special praise by the Fingallians manager; Kate Benson terrific in defence; Emma Lohan who had one of her best ever games; and captain Sally Vaughan. 

Meanwhile, in what proved to be a really tough match for the U-14 girls, St Brigids took the lead with two early soft goals and dominated the first half.  But Clanns came out fighting in the second half and nearly did enough to win the game.  They competed fearlessly with some excellent breaks and passing but the final goal eluded them and they eventually lost 2-6 to 2-2.

U12 Boys
The U-12 boys got off to a good start in their Division 4 Hurling League campaign against Fingallians winning 4-9 to 2-2 away. Playing against the wind and uphill, Clanns trailed 2-2 to 0-3 at half time – despite having a good share of possession and a number of wides, they couldn’t get past a great Fingallians keeper.

They re-grouped at half time and dominated the second half keeping Fingallians scoreless while scoring
4-6. The team was supplemented by Cian Morgan and Peter Maher from the U-11s (thanks Pat!) as numbers were somewhat depleted. Both played excellently with Peter chasing everything in midfield. Seamus McCann scored 3-3 and Niall Madill was rock solid at the back. Aaron Lynch made some great saves to repel the opposing attack. For the second match in a row the boys dug out a victory in the second half showing great heart. Here’s hoping for more of the same in the rest of the League campaign!