Juniors Are All Ireland Champions 2017
Pre Match
Morning broke on the 2nd December on All Ireland Final Day when we made the journey to Crettyard in Co. Laois to take on Corduff of Monaghan in the All Ireland Junior Club Final. The players gathered at nine in Rostellan and boarded the bus in a relaxed frame of mind. As the bus pulled off the supporters were starting to gather for their bus and the atmosphere was electric. The team bus stopped off in Cashel on the way and arrived in Crettyard at one, for a two o clock throw in. Unfortunately the weather didn’t help as there was a continuous mist for almost the whole game which made conditions very greasy for both sets of players. From the relaxed frame of mind leaving Rostellan the nerves were now starting to show as we approached throw in time but before all that both sets of teams were introduced to the President of the Ladies Football Association and then the pre match parade led out by the Artane Band. The atmosphere was now starting to crank up and we were ready for the off…
The Game
The first half of this game had a strange feel about it. There was a lot of tension on both sides as they took along time to settle into the game. Corduff settled faster and had a lot of possession but couldn’t convert it into scores, this was down to the fact that they were up against a brick wall of Aghada backs who were outstanding over the course of the game. Hannah Looney opened the scoring with a well taken point after ten minutes. A minute later Lauren Mc Allister put a good ball through to Aileen McGrath but with the conditions so greasy the ball just ran away from her and was cleared by the Corduff defence. Corduff opened their account after twenty two minutes a good score from the boot of Laura Mc Enaney. Although scores were scarce during the half, this game was turning into a tough battle with each team going at it. Just before the break Katie O’Farrell was blown for charging with the ball and Eva Woods tap over the resultant free to leave the half time score Aghada 0-1 Corduff 0-2.
The second half was just as tight and as tense as the first with scores still hard to come by. Roisin Phelan make a timely interception when Corduff were attacking and on the turn over Farmer levelled the match up. Aine Mc Grath was introduced for Amanda Bennett at this stage before Famer kicked another free but this was quickly cancelled out by Corduff when they levelled up matters once more, this one from the boot of Elena Mc Enaney with fourteen minutes to play. Farmer was to pop over another free and then the turning point in the match came when Corduff were reduced to fourteen players, after Cogan was sin binned. From here to the end it was all Aghada as the flood gates opened up. Farmer kicked the next two points and all of a sudden there was daylight between the teams when we pushed three clear. Karen O’Connell was then introduced for Aileen Mc Grath with nine minutes to play. A sweeping move at this stage put Christine Moran through for a major and the scent of victory was within touching distance. Laura Burchill was introduced for Lauren Mc Allister before we were reduced to fourteen, when Karen O’Connell was sin binned just after coming on three minutes earlier. With the clock running down we hit our second major, this one from the boot of Clare Walsh after been put through, by a beautiful pass from Aine Mc Grath. From the resultant kick out the referee blew his final whistle and we were ALL IRELAND JUNIOR CLUB CHAMPIONS.
Although the first half was short on scores we really opened up in the second half as we settled more into the game. Sarah Walsh did nothing wrong between the post, Bridget Wall, Sorcha Phelan and Cassie Tynan were colossus in the full back line, Katie O’Farrell, Roisn Phelan and Clare Walsh attacked at every opportunity from the half back line, Sarah Leahy and Sinead O’Driscoll put in a huge hour at midfield, Lauren Mc Allister, Emma Famer and Hannah Looneys work rate in the half forward line was outstanding, Christine Moran, Aileen Mc Grath and Amanda Bennett working just as hard in the full forward line, Aine Mc Grath, Karen O’Connell and Laura Burchill doing their bit when introduced but this is not about players that played or players that came on this is about a panel of players that if needed will put their shoulder to the wheel for Aghada Ladies so to Maeve Rutledge, Sophie Long, Lauren Linehan, Megan Sweeney, Kate Wall, Ciara Mc Grath, Siobhan Mc Carthy, Ciara Counihan, Aryn Quinn, Sinead Mc Carthy, Zoe Cashman and Michelle Stafford we say well done also.
60 Second Match Report
Corduff getting a player sin binned, it opened up more for Aghada and we pushed on from there, hitting 2-2 in that period.
Did That Just Happen
Karen O’Connell comes on for Aghada, is on the field three minutes and gets sin binned.
Best On Show
We have to go for the player of the match Roisin Phelan who put in a massive shift at centre back and got a crucial intervention on a Corduff pass when they were breaking down on goal.
Haven’t Seen That Before
Only three scores in the first half in a tense and tight opening.
Where Next?
Intermediate football for these girls next year and I have no doubt they will be able to hold their own up there.
Post Match
The scenes witnessed at the end of this game will live long in the memory, girls that grew up with each other hugging each other with delight, grown men crying, supporters jumping for joy, the dream had come through we had made history by capturing the All Ireland Junior Club Title. Emma Farmer was called to the podium for the presentation of the cup, by the president of the Ladies Association but before the presentation took place the player of the match had to be announced and this accolade went to Roisin Phelan after her tremendous performance at centre back.
It was now on to the main event and after a few words from the President all that was left to do was to present the cup to the victorious captain Emma Farmer. She thanked everyone that made this day possible, her team mates who were like a family to her as opposed to anything else, the management for all the work done in preparing the team, the supporters for travelling in such big numbers all year to support and last but not least to Corduff who made us work so hard for the victory and with that there was three cheers for Corduff. Hannah Looney then took to the mic for the singing of  Aghada’s National Anthem “Caledonia”.
After the presentations had ended it was interviews and photos of this historic occasion.
The After Party
As we departed Crettyard it was onto Abbeyleix for the first stop where the team had their post match meal. It was great to see the team been clapped into the room by the many supporters that had landed there earlier. After they were fed and watered it was back on the bus and the journey home began with the All Ireland Cup on board as the extra passenger. The bus arrived into Whitegate where the bonfires were burning and the fireworks going off, which was only fitting of the occasion. It was onto The Schooner from here and the rest is history… #AthFhadaAbu
The Victory Parade
The victory parade kicked off on Sunday at three o clock from Rostellan. The route took the team up hillside to upper Aghada, down into Whitegate and back the main road to Rostellan where a crowd has gathered to meet the victorious team. The team were introduced to the spectators to tremendous applause.
Aine Cronin Chairperson spoke on behalf of the club, on how proud she felt and was full of  praise for the team,  the management, fellow committee members, sponsors, supporters and everyone else that made this historic day possible.
Ian Rose spoke on behalf of the management and thanked all the girls for the commitment shown all year. He also thanked the committee for all the work they done behind the scenes to get them to this day.
Finally Emma Farmer spoke on behalf of the players. She said the team were a family and they had a fierce bond and that it was very special. She thanked each and everyone of them for the way they trained and worked so hard all year to make this day possible. She thanked the management for their work in the preparation of the team and last but not least she thanked the supporters for following the team all year through thick and thin.
After the speeches were complete, it was back into the club house for tea, sandwiches, cakes, biscuits and the after match discussion.
A final word of thanks to the players, who without you, this day would not be possible, the management who coached the girls to reach their potential, the committee who organised the logistical side of  things, the sponsors who rowed in behind the club, Kevin Day for his tractor and trailer, DJ Shane for providing the music at the victory parade and last but not least the sixteenth team member at every match the supporters we say a big thank you.
The year isn’t over yet as the Minors have a County Final replay to come. It is against Glanmire and is fixed for Cloughduv on Wednesday Sixth at 8pm. We would appeal to as many people as possible to come out and support these girls in their quest for County Honours. It would be a fantastic way to finish off the year. We would like to wish the players and management the very best of luck on Wednesday night.