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A Tribute to our Girls Gaelic Football Teams!

This was the third year in a row our Sruleen girls reached the semi-final of the Corn Neasáin cup! We played against an outstanding Scoil Neasáin team. It was a really tight, intense and competitive match between two determined teams but it was Scoil Neasain who ultimately emerged as the winners in a scoreline of 5-2 to 2-6. The girls were absolutely devastated after the match but they should be so proud of their performance and the fighting spirit they showed. They just refused to give up even when Scoil Neasain took a 9 point lead in the Second Half! It is a particularly tough loss to take as all our brilliant Sixth Class girls also lost out in a really close battle in the semi-final last year (by just 1 point) .All the girls have put in a huge effort since the start of the year and though they were absolutely gutted after the match, these girls have plenty of resilience and I have no doubt they will bounce back! All their hard work and dedication has resulted in them becoming outstanding young players who have very bright futures ahead of them in this sport. I think it's only right that each and every one of the players deserves a special mention of thanks in this tribute. Bear in mind, we have 23 players on the panel so it may be a long read!

Amelia is still only in Fourth Class and had very little GAA experience before this year and yet we trusted her to play in one of the most important positions on the team and that's the greatest compliment we can pay to her! I've honestly never seen the likes of a Fourth Class boy or girl being good enough to be the first choice goalkeeper on the school Senior team! But Amelia has safe hands, is a superb overhead catcher and is a really brave shot stopper. She has been so committed and reliable all year and it has been heartwarming to see her grow in confidence off the back of her superb performances. Amelia is also a very good defender and I hope this experience inspires Amelia to consider joining Round Towers because they would be very lucky to have a player of her talent amongst their ranks!

At the corner back position, you won't find many more determined players than Kaitlyn. She is another one of our Towers stars and absolutely loves her Gaelic Football. Kaitlyn has been such a consistent player for our team from the very first match. Her focus is second to none, she is an excellent reader of the game and has managed to make numerous crucial interceptions for the team this year. And there's no better woman to drive out of the defence with the ball determined to make a clearance up the field than Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn has an excellent attitude and you'll never see her shy away from a tackle! Kaitlyn was so upset after our heart-breaking semi-final loss but I've no doubt that she will be as determined as ever when the GAA season comes around next year!

And what can we say about our tenacious full back, Adriana?! Last year, Adriana was still quite inexperienced and was very much a fringe player on the Senior Team. This year, she has been an absolute revelation! We have some Sixth Class girls on this team who are some of the best players we have ever had in the school but this year Adriana was right up there beside these girls regarding her level of performance and her ultimate importance to the team! This year Adriana put on a clinic on how to tackle...she might need to start charging for defensive coaching lessons! Adriana has exceptional balance and is very, very difficult to shake off - once you think you've got past her, that's when she's got you! She has also become very skillful and has been more than capable of soloing out of a tight spot in defence when it's been necessary to do so. All the younger girls should take note of what Adriana has been able to achieve this year because if they do, it should fill them with great confidence that with hard work and dedication, they can also become an outstanding player just like Adriana!

Molly was the second youngest girl on the starting team (still under 9!!) but she certainly wasn't overawed by playing with the older girls. Molly lives and breathes the GAA and is so dedicated to this sport! She is always looking for ways to improve her skills and reminds me of our captain, Ciara, in that regard. She is also fearless! On countless occasions, when high balls have been launched in on top of our full back line, Molly has been the one to make the all important catch - they don't call her 'Velcro Hands' for nothing. But Molly is a very classy footballer too...very comfortable on the solo run and is right up there as one of the most accurate kick-passers on the team. We may be losing some amazing players from Sixth this year but Molly is a natural successor to some of these great players and will no doubt be determined to ensure that Sruleen school will be competing for Cumann na mBunscol titles in the future!

Is there a more committed and enthusiastic player than Shona? I don't think so! Shona is just one of those players who will always push herself to the limit in order to help the team whatever way she can. She is brave, tackles tenaciously and you just feel so secure when the ball is in Shona's hands because we just know she is always going to make the right decision with it. Shona also saved her best performance of the year for that tense semi-final. There was one block she made in the second half that was particularly inspirational! Shona is also really encouraging to her teammates which is great to see and we will certainly need her leadership next year! I'm sure she is already looking forward to it. In the meantime, start getting the old hurl out Shona because the camóige team will definitely be needing you in a few months time!

There are some players you will just never forget! Emma is one of those players! She was one of the original members of the 'Fantastic Four' from Fourth Class (Emma, Alyssa, Ciara and Ava!) who were all on the starting team that reached the Semi-final two years ago. When Emma first started playing in that first year, she used to take about 10 steps every time she got the ball! Fast forward to now, and there is not a doubt in my mind that she is one of the best Gaelic Footballers of her age in Dublin! She has produced some of the most outstanding performances I've ever seen in a Sruleen jersey (including her inspirational 'Player of the match' performance in the semi-final) and I've never seen any player get the better of her. She is peerless in the air (her high fielding has been truly magnificent) and she could and probably would shoulder a grizzly bear to the ground! Emma is also an exceptional soccer player and I know that will be her priority going forward, but as far as we are concerned, she will always be a Sruleen GAA legend!

And what can we say about Maisey? What a brilliant campaign she has had! This time last year Maisey didn't even try out for the Senior team and now she just seems to love it which has been so heartwarming to see! Maisey is a proper defender and no player takes her player-marking duties as seriously as Maisey! But Maisey can really play, her high catching is of a very high standard and she is very clever in possession. Part of the reason she was in the half back line was because she was so good at finding our key midfield players with a pass even when she was surrounded by tacklers! Maisey is also really strong and could well be a candidate for the all important full back role next year. She's playing with Towers too and if she progresses over the next year at the same rate of these last few months, well, that will be very good news for Sruleen indeed!

Oh Rhia, Rhia, Rhia! This would NOT have been the same team without her. And what amazing progress she has made since this time last year. I can't overstate how important Rhia has been for this team - she has been one of our best players, for sure. It doesn't surprise me though because Rhia was brilliant for our soccer team a few months ago and by all accounts has been producing some superb performances for the Towers A team too. Rhia is a battler! She fights for every single ball but she also produced plenty of moments of quality in front of goal this year. When Rhia finds that explosive burst of acceleration, she is just so hard to stop! Above all though, Rhia was so encouraging to the younger girls...absolutely brilliant at building their confidence and I could see it meant a lot to them! She can talk for Ireland though and could well have a career in motivational speaking ahead of her but hopefully she will also be competing hard for Towers for many years to come too!

And now to the ultimate warrior at midfield, Alyssa! All I can say is that it has been an absolute privilege to witness her brilliance on the GAA field over the past three years! Every single time she graces the field, she gives everything to the cause. She covers every blade of grass, never shirks responsibility and never, ever gives up! She is a superb problem-solver. If the match isn't going her way, she finds a way to turn it around. Alyssa may well be the greatest all round young sportswoman we have ever had in the school! She has been an outstanding performer in gaelic football, soccer and camóige. Of course, Alyssa has immense natural talent (pace, balance, vision, intelligence, skill....the lot) but it's her work ethic that sets her apart which is why I consider her to be such a brilliant role model for these younger girls and boys in this school. In my opinion, Alyssa is destined to play sport at the highest level but for now, there's no doubt that she is already counting the days before soccer and camoige season starts!

If we were giving out an award for the 'most improved player', I think that one would surely have to go to Emi! Her first touch has been so sharp this year and she has become so comfortable soloing the ball. She deserves massive credit for this because it is so clear how hard she has worked on her skills and all that hard work is surely paying off now! Emi may be small but she will get out there and compete for any high ball that comes her way in the forward line. She always puts herself out in front of her marker and has won some very important primary possession for us to keep attacks going. Her close control is also so good now that she is just so hard to dispossess! Emi seems to be loving her GAA and it's been really great to see Emi's progress this year - I have no doubt she has no intention of stopping here and she will be determined to come back even stronger next year!

And now to our Captain fantastic, Ciara! What a natural born leader! She relished the responsibility of leading these (mostly very young) girls this year and instilled in the girls so much belief with her inspirational speeches! But she walked the walk too as all great captains do! Ciara is so skillful and dedicated to her craft. She was already an outstanding footballer this time last year but that wasn't enough for her! She kept working on her game and developed her left foot to the point where her shooting and soloing off that side is truly top class now. Ciara is such a beautiful ball striker (she has struck over some of the most breathtaking points that you will see on any pitch in the country in this year's campaign) and her control under pressure on the solo run is elite stuff! Needless to say, Ciara fought her heart out in the semi-final again this year and was devastated by the loss but Ciara is so resilient and I'm positive better days are to come for her in this sport that she loves so much (as a player and also as a manager!) and she will be remembered here in Sruleen as one of our greatest ever!

Lacey is yet another one of our Fourth Class girls that earned a place on the starting team this year! Lacey is the type of player that fans of the sport love to watch. Lacey has a real spark about her and when she gets the ball she is always looking to make something happen! She loves taking on her player and going on a solo run but Lacey is eager to learn as well and she has become much better at finding the right pass at the right moment. Lacey can play in defence or attack and scored one of the goals of the year in the quarter final vs Rathcoole. Lacey is so enthusiastic and always comes to training with a big smile on her face and I feel like this experience of playing so well with the school Senior team has given her a lot of confidence! Keep practicing those GAA skills, Lacey!

And what can we say about little Ciara!? We had more Fourth Class girls on the team this year than we have ever had before but any time you make an exception for a Third Class girl, you know you're dealing with a special talent! Ciara could run for Ireland (most of the teachers couldn't even keep up with her in the 5k run in aid of the Ciaran Carr foundation a few weeks ago). On the football field, however, she was the talk of Sruleen. Maybe the best word to describe Ciara is 'flighty'! She buzzes around the pitch making tackles, going on solo runs and catching balls out ahead of girls twice her size! If she can perform like this in Third Class, it's scary to think of what she will be capable of by the time she reaches Sixth! Put simply, she is a star in the making and how lucky are we that we will get to see Ciara perform for Sruleen for not one, not two but three more years?!

Heidi is another one of our Fourth Class stars who forced her way onto the starting team off the back of some really impressive performances in our matches and in training. Heidi is a very strong girl for her age and when she powers up the field, there really is no stopping her - It's like the ball is welded to her! Heidi ended up playing the important sweeper role this year for us and was responsible for numerous last ditch clearances! She is a relentless tackler but she has also really improved her skill level, particularly her catching, blocking and soloing. And Heidi is a very committed Towers player (plays both camóige and football) so she definitely won't be resting on her laurels and will no doubt be looking to keep improving. I ultimately foresee Heidi dominating the all important centre-back role by the time she reaches Sixth - we don't call her 'The Enforcer' for nothing! Heidi joined Towers just over a year ago and it's just been so great to see how much joy she is getting from playing GAA and I hope that's how it stays!

Ella Fleur was very, very close to making the Senior team last year but this year her performances have been on another level! We knew she was going to be important to us but we weren't sure which position to play her in for a while. In the end, she made the full forward position her own! She played the best match I have ever seen her play against Holy Famil, Rathcoole and proved herself to be an excellent target woman. She always played out in front and made herself available for passes and took some lovely scores this year off both feet! Ella Fleur is a natural athlete - she's got great strength, speed and endurance and we really hope that she will be trying out for the Athletics team later in the school year! She is an accurate shooter herself but if she feels that somebody is in a better position to score than her, she will give the pass off. We're very lucky that Ella Fleur is still only in Fifth Class because she is going to be absolutely integral to our team's chances next year!

I don't think it's any secret how highly I rate Keeva but she is also very highly rated by our older girls. I believe Keeva is a special talent! She has all the attributes to go far in this game. She has superb close control and balance on the solo run and can jink in and out of a defence effortlessly. She is still only Under 9 so she really is one of our most exciting prospects! She also has a tremendous first touch and is more than capable of jumping up and catching a high ball whether it be over her head or on the bounce! Keeva just has that extra bit of class that sets her apart but she is also very brave and just loves to get out there and compete! She's down in Towers now too and seems to be loving it and I'm very excited to see more of Keeva's talent in a Sruleen jersey for the next two years!

And now we turn to yet another Fourth Class star! I can't overstate how impressive Sadie's skill level is for someone so young who doesn't play for a GAA club. She can unleash a monster of a shot, has good handling and her solo technique is perfect. She can solo at speed as well as any of our Sixth Class girls. But Sadie is very competitive and it's very clear that she has put a lot of time and effort into practicing her skills by herself outside of training. Sadie has also been scoring loads of goals and points for fun in the Go Games team! She is still very young and didn't get as much game time with the Senior team as she would have liked but if she keeps up the practice, I am fully confident that she will explode onto the scene at Senior Level next year!

Ella is a real livewire of a player. She just loves to be in the thick of the action! Ella is another one of our Booth Road Celtic stars (along with Ria, Lacey, Ruby and Sadie) but she has really taken to Gaelic football this year. She is as brave and as feisty a competitor as they come and every time she comes on the pitch, she is eager to make her mark! She has had such a good attitude in training and every time I see her play, I feel like she is getting better and better. She is unselfish in possession, has superb anticipation and has a great knack for getting her shot off in a tight situation. I hope that Ella will be as eager as ever to go again next year and when Rhia from Sixth Class sadly leaves us, we will need a new Sixth Class girl to be the deliverer of rousing motivational speeches. I know just the girl for the job!

Imagine a player with the perfect combination of pace and power! That's Ria Gaynor! Ria is blessed with athletic talent but she has worked really hard on trying to master her GAA skills this year and it has certainly shown in the last few weeks. Against Holy Family, she was casually making big clearances with her left foot and she was absolutely brilliant when she came on in the semi-final too last week. Considering Ria's pace and power, once she masters the solo run (and she will!), I think she is going to be unstoppable! Above all, Ria is a joy to coach. She never complains, is always open to instruction and will always do her best for the team. Needless to say, I'm really excited to see how she progresses in the next two years because she is going to be a big, big player for Sruleen!

Hannah is without doubt one of our most versatile players! She has spent some time in goals this year and she has made some really brave saves in that position! But it is in defence where she has really shone! Hannah never waits for the ball to come to her....she charges towards it and it doesn't matter who is in her way - she is determined to get it! The lesson is :'don't wait for the ball to come to you if Hannah is behind you because there will only be one winner there!'. She reminds me of our former captain Debbie in that regard and anyone who remembers Debbie would understand exactly how high praise that is! Her brother Lee was one of our best players the last time the boys won in Croke Park and it's great to see Hannah follow in his footsteps. We will definitely need Hannah's 'go-getting' mindset on the Senior Team next year!

Another girl who most certainly has caught the GAA bug is Kylie! Kylie had barely played any GAA up until this time last year but she joined Towers and you can tell that she has gained great confidence from playing with the club because she has made so much progress. Kylie may be small but she has no fear! She is as determined as they come and she had no hesitation about getting stuck in against the older girls this year. She strikes the ball really well off her left foot and she seems to have endless reserves of energy when she is out there competing! She also has a great ability to knock the ball out of an opponent's hands at the right moment! Her overall attitude is just exceptional! Kylie is still only in Fourth Class and I know she is going to keep working hard at her skills to be ready for this time next year!

Ayda is perfectly suited to playing at corner forward! She just has great natural instincts for this position. She always finds a way to place herself in the right place at the right time and the end result is often a well taken score! If a ball ever hits off the post or a keeper palms it away, you can be sure that Ayda will be the first girl to react and pounce on the rebound! But Ayda is not just a scorer! She hounds and pressurizes defenders relentlessly - there is no easy route out of defence when Ayda is around! Ayda is another one of our club players and though she is in Fifth Class, she is still very young (she's even younger than some of the Fourths). But she has no fear of playing against the older girls. If anything, she relishes the challenge! She always gives her best effort in both training and in matches and we are very lucky to have a player like Ayda still with us next year! I'm sure she will be looking to add to her impressive tally of scores!

Even though she wasn't involved with the team during our Corn Neasáin campaign, I also have to give Aoife a shout out! Aoife was really unlucky this year. She was eager to play gaelic football in her final year at Sruleen but unfortunately she broke her fingers before the competition started so she didn't get a chance to play. It is a big pity because Aoife would have definitely added that extra bit of speed and strength to the team. Aoife has got the best attitude and is always willing to try her hand at any sport at school. Indeed, she had a fine campaign for the girls camoige team last year that made it all the way to Croker. There will be plenty more sporting opportunities for Aoife this year but I am sure she is particularly looking forward to playing camoige again and also trying out for the athletics team!

This is the first year ever that there has been a Girls Go Games competition and it couldn't have come at a better time for our girls in Sruleen! We have never before had this many young girls interested in playing GAA and the Go Games competition has given these younger girls a chance to showcase their talents that they would not otherwise have had in years gone past. And what exciting prospects these young girls are! They have won all their matches so far this year and play their last one versus Lucan Educate Together this Wednesday. They have been training with the Senior girls and have been more than capable of holding their own! Most of these girls are very young so they will not be receiving as comprehensive a write-up because there will be plenty to say about these great talents in the coming years but they still deserve a mention for their valuable contributions.

Kyra-Jane is definitely the joker of the pack but she has been improving at a really fast pace on the football field. She is tall, strong, brave and has a really powerful kick. She brings so much positivity to the team and I am also delighted to hear that she has recently joined Towers so I fully expect her to be challenging for the Senior Team next year.

Ellie Grainger

is also a real dark horse for next year. She has bags of natural talent and her catching is particularly sharp! She also has a brilliant attitude and is as determined a competitor as they come! She seems to have really enjoyed playing GAA so hopefully she will keep it going and consider joining Round Towers!

There is no greater exponent of the overhead catch than Leah! She has tremendous hands and is a very skillful player in her own right..., she has a powerful left foot and her soloing is top class! Leah absolutely loves her GAA and though she will still only be in Fourth Class, I fully expect her to be challenging at Senior level next year!

Carly is one 'tough cookie'! There is no better woman to catch a ball on the hop while running at full speed. She's also really brave, has a powerful kick and though she is still young, she has outstanding talent and there is no doubt she is going to be one of Sruleen's stars of the future!

Lucy Wisely is all skill! She is as sweet a striker of the ball as you are going to find! Lucy doesn't play GAA for a club (she bangs in hat-tricks for Shamrock Rovers every weekend instead) but she has all the attributes to be great at GAA! She will be a future goal machine for the girls' GAA team for sure!

Geraldine is probably the strongest girl on the whole Go Games team. She is very versatile and can play well in both defence and attack and she has even played in goals at times. Her hand-passing is also very accurate. Above all, you're not going to find a girl with a better attitude than Geraldine!

Ava is another one of our Towers stars and she seems to have loved being involved with the team this year. If I could pick out one aspect of Ava's game that has improved the most it would be her catching. More than anything though, she is just such a positive personality to have around the team!

Sadie Ryan is yet another left-footed Towers star who has really impressed for the Go Games team. Sadie's best attribute is most definitely her athleticism. She is strong and fast but she also has the skill to complement the athleticism. I'm really looking forward to seeing exactly how far she can progress in future years!

Mia is the youngest girl (Under 8!!) on the whole team but quite possibly the fiercest! She is the ultimate battler. I have no idea where she gets her energy from but she can seemingly run all day and has no fear of mixing it with the older girls! Technically, her catching is already excellent and there's no doubt she will be a key player for us in future years!

Ruby is in Fourth Class and played at the start of the year. She is a natural born defender! She is an excellent catcher and is capable of making big clearances! She's also a great girl to get a block in! Ruby really has so much potential and I hope she will get to enjoy playing even more GAA for the school in future years!

I don't know what she is like at home but there is no one more obsessed with playing GAA at school than Alisha! She loves it! And she has the potential to become a great player. She charges towards the ball and has a powerful shot! She has recently joined Towers and I hear they are already very impressed with her down there!

Isabella is a fiery player who is not afraid of breaking a tackle! She is very good at trapping the ball in her hands when it comes her way and she doesn't get knocked off the ball easily. I was really happy to hear that she joined Towers and she also plays camóige which is great news for our future camóige teams!

Sophie's talent is very natural and she is already very accomplished at catching high balls on her chest! She also has plenty of pace and tells me that she practices often which is exactly what you want to hear! In the meantime, I am looking forward to hearing more about her progress down in Towers!

Cara only came rocking up to training the other day and she was already effortlessly soloing off both her right and left foot! If that's not natural talent, I don't know what is! Cara is a Peamount United star but she has massive potential in GAA and I expect her to be a lethal forward for us in future years!

Zofia is also a Peamount United star but she has been really flourishing at GAA in school. She is blessed with lightning speed and once she perfects the solo run, no player will be able to catch her! It has been great to see the interest Zofia has shown in GAA this year and I'm excited to see her progress in the next few years!

Kick-boxing champion, Georgia, is a future enforcer for sure! She is really tough and brave and brings more than a whole lot of aggression to the table! At school, Georgia is so, so keen to play GAA and she has all the attributes to become a great player with a bit more experience : strength, speed and great catching!

Ellie Kennedy is our other Under 8s Towers star on the team and she really impressed us in her first ever match for Sruleen. She has clearly been working a lot on her skills because she was out in front for every ball and her first touch was excellent. She can only go from strength to strength from here on in!

Last but most certainly not least, Lucy Woods is as fearless a young player as you will see! She would run through a brick wall to get her hands on a football and loves getting stuck in to the action! She has been working hard on her skills and I will certainly be keeping an eye out on her progress with Towers!

We will be saying goodbye to some of our best ever players in June and we thank them for their commitment and wish them luck in their future playing endeavours. Maybe we might even have a future Dublin or Kildare star on our hands! Of course, for now, there will still be plenty more sport here in the school for the girls to take part in and I am sure they will all be eager to compete again soon.

Ms. Durkin was a massive help this year as she was very committed to all the training sessions after school and I know the girls really appreciated her input. And of course, Ms. O' Donovan loves being involved with these girls and tried to make it to whatever matches she could. Mr. Marrinan has been in charge of the Girls Go Games team and he has blown away by the talent he has seen! Mr. Kelly is also a big driving force behind the sport at our school and he couldn't have been any more impressed by and proud of the girls this year!

I also just want to take this opportunity to encourage the girls to keep practicing their skills. Like I said, we have never had this many young girls interested in playing GAA and as you can see so many of them already play for a club! However, I know some of the girls already play a different sport but we encourage the girls to play as many sports as possible (if possible) and Towers are always very welcoming to new players if they are eager to play more GAA! We are losing great players next year for sure but there were only 5 of them so there will still be intense competition for places on the Senior team again, especially with a few of the Fourth Class girls coming through likely to challenge but I've no doubt that the girls will be eager to come back stronger! Regarding the Go Games team, the Go Games team is supposed to be predominantly made up of Fourth and Fifth class girls. Given the sheer amount of players that we have in Third and Fourth now, it is much more likely that the Go Games team will mostly be made up of Fourth and Fifth class players in future years but there might still be space for a few of next year's Thirds. We may be able to organize a match or two for the Seconds and Thirds in the final term.

We also want to thank the parents and grandparents who have been so supportive of the girls all throughout the campaign. We know that not everyone lives close to the school and have had to wait back after school for training sessions and we always had more than enough volunteers to provide lifts to the away matches. We want to assure you that these sacrifices do not go unnoticed. It has been great to see so many people come out and watch the girls this year and long may it continue!

Finally, we want to wish Scoil Neasáin the very best of luck in the final in Croke Park this Monday. They are a superb young team who were very gracious winners and we will be keeping an eye out on how they do hoping that the cup goes back to Artane!


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