U12 Boys Step Up To The Plate
The East Down U12 league is coming to a conclusion and Carryduff faced tough fixtures against teams crowned champions of their respective divisions. In the first division Carryduff hosted a Bredagh side that had won all of their games bar one draw, while in Division Two, a young Duff team travelled to face a Laoitrim side with a 100% win record through the season.
First up was Bredagh on Tuesday evening for what would turn out to be a compelling encounter. With a number of boys away on holiday, the game would be a good test of the depth of the Carryduff squad. Bredagh were in confident mood having received the league trophy on Sunday and mindful that when the sides last met, three goals in the first five minutes had settled the contest before it really began.
Carryduff were determined that there would be no repeat this time and they were on their game from the first whistle. Early points from Cian Duffy and Dara Cunningham set the tone and while the visitors responded with a point of their own, Carryduff weren’t long about finding the net. Duffy’s goal bound shot was probably going in anyway, but Eoin Blaney was taking no chances, fielding the ball before firing home. Bredagh responded with a goal of their own, but as the half drew to a close, Carryduff played some lovely football and the on fire Oran Donaldson fired over three sumptuous points to see the Duff lead at the break on a score line of 1-5 to 1-2.
Carryduff would have been expecting a response from the visitors but it was a while in coming. Not least because the Duff defence worked hard to close down the visiting forwards and forced them to shoot from difficult angles. Bredagh did manage three points during this period, with Oran McMeel replying for the hosts to leave it a one point game. Then came a lovely flowing move from the Duff, with Donaldson firing to the net to restore something of a cushion.
Bredagh were determined to maintain their proud unbeaten record and came roaring forward. The Duff were under pressure but defending manfully, their efforts epitomised by one fantastic block from David Morrissey. Bredagh tagged over some points from distance as they struggled to break through and when the final whistle blew Carryduff had held on for a one point victory on a score line of 2-6 to 1-8.
There was some confusion after the match with the referee appearing to indicate a draw, a surprise to both teams and presumably a clerical error on his behalf. However one wants to record it, this was a much improved display from the Duff against a very good side. It may be a cliché, but this was a genuine team effort with every one of the fourteen playing a part and showcasing the genuine depth of talent in the squad.
In goals, Cameron McClure was solid, sweeping well and alternating his kick outs to good effect. The full back line of Jacob Dixon and Joseph Doherty kept tight to their men at all times and had arguably their best games of the season. In front of them, David Morrissey had a superb game for such a young man, while Oisin McGurk was outstanding, forcing any number of turnovers and sweeping effectively in front of the full back line.
The midfield partnership of Declan McArdle and Lorcan O’Hagan ran themselves in to the ground. This is an area where the visitors have dominated in the past but the Duff partnership did great work to curtail their influence.
Of the half forwards, Dara Cunningham worked hard and often dropped in to support his midfield while Cian Duffy was in top form in the first half. He won his physical battle which allowed him to play his football. Full forwards, Eoin Blaney and Oran Donaldson caused plenty of problems for the Bredagh defence and contributed the bulk of the Duff scores. Duffy, Blaney and Donaldson all came off in the second half having emptied the tank. Their efforts were all the more meritorious as all three had lined out in the U14 Championship the previous evening.
And when the Duff needed fresh legs, who better than the likes of Liam Blaney, Oran McMeel and Matthew Loftus. Blaney was his usual industrious self, his clever runs from deep seeing him win plenty of ball. McMeel added good impetus to the attack and got his score while Loftus battled hard. He was somewhat starved of service in the latter stages, but played an important role in the crucial second goal.
The following evening, Carryduff travelled to Laoitrim for their final Division Two game of the season. This was a daunting assignment against a physically imposing side on a tight pitch. The Duff took a long time to get going, some of the boys who had played on Tuesday looking understandably leggy, while for the younger lads the power and physicality of their opponents was something of an eye opener.
Laoitrim built up a big first half lead but the Duff hadn’t helped themselves in various aspects of their game. Coaches Donnelly and McKernan let them know at half time and challenged them to ‘win’ the second half. To their credit the boys showed much more stomach for the fight, getting their tackles in and battling hard. Liam Blaney kicked some sweet points and two late goals ensured that the half time objective was met. The first came from Dara Cunningham, with a fine second rattled in by young Eoin McKernan. Final Score: Laoitrim 5-14 Carryduff 2-4.
Luke Morris played in goal in the first half, but really found his role in defence during the second period when he added much needed physicality to the Duff ranks. James O’Donnell battled hard at full back before moving in to goal where he was somewhat unfortunate not to keep a clean sheet. Finn Cunningham grew in to the game and won some good ball in the second period while David Morrissey never shirked a challenge and had another good game.
Sean McCrory did well under pressure in the first half, forcing a couple of notable turnovers while Cillian Teague also battled hard to stem the tide. Cameron McClure put in another strong showing, working hard to plug gaps in defensive areas and trying to drive his team forward. Rory Hughes was Mr Versatile, having periods in goal, defence and midfield and he also worked hard for his team.
Dara Cunningham tried his best and got stronger as the game went on, notching 1-1 in the second period while Liam Blaney was always an outlet and stroked over some beautiful points. Lorcan O’Hagan shipped a heavy challenge in the opening minutes and had to leave the pitch, but he returned for the second half and did well to shield his defence, winning some great ball and distributing a number of lovely passes in to the forward line.
Eoin Blaney won good ball inside and was also prepared to drop deep when his team were under pressure. He was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet. Similar comments apply to Niall O’Neill who was isolated at full forward and had to work back to help out his teammates. Max O’Rawe showed up well in the second half, winning some good ball and distributing well to the inside forwards. Ronan Donaldson and Eoin Vaugh were lively up front and tried to stretch the home defence while Eoin McKernan notched a deserved goal with a nice close range finish.
It’s been an eventful season for the boys, all of whom got good game time. Laoitrim were tough opponents, a side who could more than hold their own in the higher division, but it was a good test nonetheless. Any disappointment with the result was quickly forgotten as the majority of the squad decamped to Brennans for a soothing ice cream, the best cure for those nursing bumps and bruises!
Carryduff V Bredagh: Cameron McClure, Jacob Dixon, Joseph Doherty, David Morrissey, Oisin McGurk, Declan McArdle, Lorcan O’Hagan, Dara Cunningham, Cian Duffy, Oran Donaldson, Eoin Blaney, Liam Blaney, Oran McMeel, Matthew Loftus.
Carryduff v Laoitrim: Luke Morris, James O’Donnell, David Morrissey, Finn Cunningham, Sean McCrory, Rory Hughes, Cameron McClure, Dara Cunningham, Lorcan O’Hagan, Liam Blaney, Niall O’Neill, Cillian Teague, Eoin Blaney, Ronan Donaldson, Max O’Rawe, Eoin McKernan, Eoin Vaugh.