Thursday 20th August saw the boys u16 footballers travel out to Whitehall Colmcilles for their second group game in the Dublin ‘B’ Championship. A win vs St. Oliver Plunketts in their previous group game had put the lads in a strong position heading into the match vs Whitehall who were also victors over Raheny last time out.
In wet and windy conditions, Harps got off to a strong start- an attack from centre forward Eoghan O’Connor Flanagan set up a goal converted by Myles Healy. O’Connor Flanagan who was on free-taking duty scored two points from placed balls in quick succession and after just five minutes Skerries found themselves leading 1-2 to no score. Whitehall posed a strong attacking threat but some fantastic displays of defending kept Whitehall’s chances to a minimum. Both teams traded scores in the run up to the water break but another two points from Eoghan O’Connor Flanagan maintained an advantage of six points.
Despite heavy periods of rainfall, Skerries pushed on with Ronan Geoghegan scoring a point from midfield. Coming towards the end of the first half, Whitehall rattled off three points in a row however their attempts to find a crucial goal were shut down by the superb Harps defensive line with Greg McEneaney displaying a masterclass in man-marking to limit Whitehall’s main threat. Eoghan O’Connor Flanagan extended his personal tally to six with two further points to ensure the Harps went into half-time leading 1-7 to 0-4.
Whitehall converted from a free early in the second half and two more points followed to leave just three points between the teams. Skerries responded with a phase of strong attacking play. The pace of wing-forward James Grimes posed problems for the Whitehall defence and the Harps nearly scored their second goal of the game however Ronan Winters was denied by a goal line clearance by the Whitehall corner-back.
Harps continued to hold onto their lead, but an important moment came on 43 minutes as goalkeeper James Courell produced a crucial save to deny Whitehall. The three-point advantage held by Skerries was soon extended to five with two more points from free taker Eoghan O’Connor Flanagan. The lads kept pushing to extend their lead with both Robert McCullagh and Darragh Ferguson working well in the full-forward line. Robert and James Grimes came close to adding to the Harps’ tally of 1-9 before Ronan Geoghegan scored his second point of the game and Eoghan O’Connor Flanagan scoring his ninth.
Whitehall kept knocking at the door of the Skerries defence and on 53 minutes they won a penalty. An important chance for them was missed as the penalty taker put too much power into the kick and split the posts for a point. Substitute Cormac Fanning converted a well-taken point as the clock ticked down and Eoghan O’Connor Flanagan converted another free to end on an excellent personal tally of ten points. There was time for Whitehall to finish with one final consolation point, but it was Skerries who finished victorious on the referee’s final whistle.
A fantastic team performance with some exceptional defensive performances in particular, securing a second group win for the u16s. Each player made important contributions to ensure the Harps took a big step towards progressing to a championship quarter final. The lads will face Raheny in their final group game in St. Anne’s Park on the 29th of August.
Skerries Harps u16s: James Courell, Ben Hogan, Joe Rogers, James Heaney, Fionnan O’Connor, Greg McEneaney, Conor Moore, Ronan Geoghegan (0-2), Ronan Winters, James Grimes, Eoghan O’Connor Flanagan (0-10) (0-9f), Rory Boylan, Myles Healy (1-0), Robert McCullagh, Darragh Ferguson, Cormac Fanning (0-1), Conor Barrett, Stephen Dowling, Isaac Grimes