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Wonderful achievement! Our girls 5 a side team finish Third in Leinster!

On the 15th May, our brilliant girls 5 a side team traveled to the MDL grounds in Navan to represent Dublin (as the Dublin champions) in the Leinster finals! As expected, the standard was really high and though our girls didn't manage to win the tournament, we are very proud of how they competed on the day. They played with great fighting spirit throughout and indeed finished the day on a high by winning the third place playoff. We also must acknowledge that the team that ultimately knocked them out went on to win the All Ireland final in the Aviva stadium so needless to say there is no shame in losing to the best in the country!

Our captain, Alyssa, encapsulated our fighting spirit on the day and never dropped her head once regardless of whether we were winning or losing. She just kept battling as she always does despite getting targeted by the opposing teams once they identified how dangerous a player she was. You can tell a lot about a player when the chips are down and that is exactly when Alyssa stood up and fought her hardest! This tournament was also a great opportunity for Alyssa to showcase her incredible talent for this sport and it's always a beautiful sight to see Alyssa weave her way past 2 or 3 players at a time with those magic feet of hers. Alyssa was easily one of the best players on show on the day

and as I have said before, she has all the attributes required to make it to the very top!

Our cup team captain and 5 a side vice captain, Emma has been simply magnificent all year for us! Emma is also blessed with tremendous skill and close control but she is as tough and aggressive a competitor as you will find and there is no way we could have achieved what we did this year without her. Unfortunately, Emma was sick on the day but she kept battling despite feeling so unwell and indeed scored what I think was the goal of the tournament... a sublime bit of skill to make space for herself before rifling the ball to the roof of the net from an acute angle! Emma is an absolute warrior and I can't overstate how highly I rate her. I'm certain that this won't be the last time we'll be hearing about her achievements on the football field as she loves this game so much and has the talent to take it as far as she wants it to!

Ciara, is ultimately a GAA lover and perhaps the most technically skillful GAA player in the school right now. However, she has been a stalwart at the back for us on this 5 a side team and has showed plenty of talent for soccer too. She is as sweet a ball striker as you're going to see and has scored some long range screamers in this campaign. She also has great intelligence and reads where the danger is so well but above all she will always stand up and be counted just like she did at the Dublin and Leinster finals this year. And I've also been very impressed by Ciara's ability to provide accurate passes to our attackers off both feet this year. Going forward, I'm sure Ciara will establish herself as a Castlemitchells' GAA legend but her crucial contributions for the Sruleen soccer teams the past few years will not be forgotten!

Adriana (who also won a silver medal at the Santry athletics this year) has come a long way in the past 18 months. She forced her way onto the starting 11 of the senior team last year and has went from strength to strength since then! Adriana is a workhorse and just competes so tirelessly out there. She has the perfect temperament for high intensity competition and her concentration levels never waver. However, what was most pleasing to see this year is that Adriana has also added some flair to her game and has produced some lovely moments of skill maneuvering her way out of tight spaces before picking out perfect eye of the needle passes for Emma or Alyssa. Hopefully, Adriana will be inspired by this experience to pursue playing football for a club as any team would be very lucky to have Adriana on their side in the heat of battle!

Rhia Conroy was another girl to force her way onto the starting 11 of the Senior team that reached the Senior Schools FAI final last year and boy did we need her energy on this 5 a side team. Rhia is the ultimate team player and I've never watched a match with Rhia involved where I came away thinking that Rhia didn't give it her all and that's such an important trait for a young sportswoman to have! Rhia is a tremendous player marker and loves nothing more than to disrupt the opposing teams attacks with her timely tackles. She is the fastest girl in the school too so she is even more effective in the 11 a side matches where she can put defenders under serious pressure as she chases down balls relentlessly. And as I have said before, she is brilliant at instilling confidence in our younger players. She has been a brilliant servant to Sruleen in all sports codes!

What Ria Gaynor did for this 5 a side team was beyond impressive! She was a late addition to the squad as we needed a new goalkeeper. This is not a position she was used to playing at all and it must have been daunting for such a young girl to take on such an important position with the stakes so high. But she showed up at the trial and impressed straight away and performed so well both in the Dublin finals and the Leinster finals. She was always so alert and quick off the mark to collect through balls at the edge of the box. She is also so quick to go to ground and above all was so brave! She produced some fantastic saves and should be really proud of her contribution to this team. It will probably be the last time we see her in goals as she will be badly needed as an outfield player going forward but we are very grateful to Ria for her committed displays between the posts on this campaign.

Finally, we turn to Shamrock Rovers star, Lucy. Lucy was another late addition to the squad for the Dublin finals as Emma was an injury doubt at the time but as the top scorer in our second 5 a side team in the regional championships, we felt that she was deserving of a spot. Lucy is born in 2015 so there's no doubt that she has to be the youngest player in the whole tournament but that's just a testament to her talent as despite being so young, she was more than able to mix it with the top Sixth Class girls of the province! She is very strong and brave for her age but it's her first touch, vision and technical skill that sets her apart and she showcased that plenty of times during this campaign. She is a very exciting prospect indeed and I believe that she will be central to our plans to try and win more silverware for the school in the coming years.

So once again, we have to salute the girls for an outstanding campaign: Regional champions, Dublin champions and Third in Leinster!! It cannot be overstated how difficult it is to get this far in this very competitive competition so it just goes to show exactly how talented and determined these girls are. And we are still in the running for the Clondalkin League title so there's no doubt that they will be as eager as ever to try and finish their school sporting life on a high!


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