Michael Maguire for Reuters/AP
With a strong breeze at our backs, our valiant team braces themselves for what truly became an epic battle of skill and courage.
The ref set out the engagement from the get-go, “there will be one winning team walking away today”. An obvious statement? Yes, initially. The whistle blew and the ball sailed across the Porterstown pitch as if it had wings of its own after a mighty start to the match, our team quickly took stock of the opposition and realised that power and accurate passing would be key to great play while maintaining possession and moving steadily towards their target. However, a strong defence despite many chances held off any movement on the scoreboard.
22 minutes of play brought a penalty as Hugo Maguire was brought down in their box.
As the ball struck the net, team Park Celtic were already quietly resetting their positions. 6 minutes later after a super pass from Charlie O’Gorman allowing Hugo to direct it accurately past a stunned goalkeeper. 2-0.
Half time whistle blows up, a regroup and team talk, our little warriors knew in their hearts what was required.
This time the wind was not in our favour. Despite incessant and resolute defending from Sean McKenna, Dan Fitzgerald, Oisín Murphy, Jake Horca Stone and James Murray, we watched as a speculative shot from the middle of the pitch glided the ball over the top of goalkeeper Sean McKiernan and into our net. Then at the midpoint of the half, an opposition corner kick also left the boot of the taker and without touching another soul on the pitch and was cruelly whipped by a gust into the back of our net. Ryan, Max and Jake along with our new recruit Con played well in the middle throughout, and with some desperate defending we held out against the onslaught assisted by the elements. The full-time score 2-2.
We must play for 10 more mins a side in deteriorating conditions, which provided some chances for both sides but the energy was spent and moral was waining. The score stays the same.
The whistle is blown as the referee announces the penalty shootout.
We made our selection and each player took to the penalty spot with a serious task to do and a result in mind, as the rest of the team watched from the halfway circle.
On their last attempt, our goalie Sean McKiernan focused in on the angle of the taker with eagle-eyed accuracy and saves the ball from making a mark on the mesh behind. 3-3 on penos! A heroic save given the gusts now coming down the pitch like a wind tunnel. Now it’s Ryan Leeson’s turn as he settles the ball on the spot for the final spot-kick, five paces back, a pause then with a calm serene nature, he sends the keeper in the wrong direction. We explode down the pitch to celebrate a game in which we lived every second to know now that we were to be the winning team walking away today. 🏆💪🏼⚽