Thurles Sarsfields Ladies Football U14 panel has just added to the already amazing roll of honour in the club.
This coming weekend they will become the first team from the club to represent the club and county Tipperary at Feile.
This great Journey began back in April with the Thurles girls first took on Aherlow in Bansha. After an explosive start by Sarfields the West Tipperary side started to take a foothold in the game. With possession of the ball very important, Sarsfields better use of the short pass game meant that they made Aherlow work very hard just to get near the football. This eventually broke their fight back and a second Eimear McGrath goal put the game out of reach as Sarsfields went on to win by 9 points. There were strong performances from Marie Creedon, Jade Byrne, Ciara Maher, Kayleen Kane Harris Caroline Tobin, Aoife Keogh and Roisin Ryan.
Sarsfields next match and Semi Final was against another team from the West Tipperary area. Lattin Cullen carried an obvious Physical advantage into this game and had a number of strong ball carriers in midfield and in their half forward line. The Sarsfields management team had to make changes to the way their team played and this plan was put in place to great effect by the team. Choking the centre of the pitch by bringing in all wide players meant that Lattin failed to get their ball carriers breaking into scoring positions in the Sarsfields half of the pitch. Once the Sarsfield team turned over possession they spread the ball wide and worked deep into the Lattin half, drawing out the backs and making space for players like Grace Cummins, and Jenny Irwin to score. But these scores would not have being possible without the great defensive display from Katelyn Ruddy, Eva Noonan, Sadhbh Leahy, Sophie Rafter, Lauren Murphy Emma Jordan and Ciara Cosgrave.
In the Final the mighty Moyle Rovers awaited. For the first time in this competition Sarsfields fell behind and were probably lucky not to be further behind come half time. Goal keeper Michelle Stapleton pulled off two brilliant saves to keep Thurles in the game at half time. But the wind had a greater impact than most people realised and Sarsfields drove forward and used this wind to help pull back the Moyle Rovers lead. Lauren McCormack was beginning to pull the strings in the forward line Sars chipped away until five minutes from the end when they eventually went into the lead. Panic started to show in the Moyle team and they gave up easy possession on a few attacks which gave Sarsfields the opportunity to get the scores that won them the Tipperary Feile title.
This was the first time Sarsfields have entered a team in Feile so to win the county phase on their first effort was quiet an achievement. The tournament proper will take place across Connacht on the weekend of the 27th/28th/29th of June. The competition is arranged in groups of four which all play each other once on Friday and Saturday. ¼ finals will take place on Saturday evening, semi finals on Sunday Morning with the Final on Sunday afternoon. In Sarsfields group are Clann Na Gael from Athlone, Old Mills from Limerick and Padraig Pearces from Roscommon. Clann Na Gael is the Host club for Sarsfields. The opening matches will take place in Ballyleague on Friday and Sars will play there hosts on Saturday morning in Johnstown.
It is a great honour and opportunity for this group of girls. But the ambition that they showed in winning the Tipperary competition is no surprise. Since the present management team started working with the u14 and u16 panels in early 2013 a fantastic style of football has evolved and many across the county and clubs that have played challenges have complemented the high standard of football that Sarsfields play. Three of the panel were on the 2014 Tipperary u14 squad and another three made the Tipperary primary schools squad.