Scoil Chriost Ri Portlaoise contested not one but two Leinster Schools Soccer finals last week, with the school scooping the U-19 Leinster crown but falling just short in the U-15 decider two days later.
U-19 Leinster Final
Scoil Chriost Ri 2
Athlone CC 1
The first of the two saw the U-19 side travel to Leixlip to take on Athlone Community College on Wednesday afternoon.
Buoyed on by a huge travelling support, the Portlaoise girls hit the front early on when young forward Coleen Rickard let fly with a stinging shot from 20 yards that flew past the Athlone keeper into the roof of the net. Rickard should have had a second on the stroke of half time only for the referee to harshly chalk out her effort for offside.
The Westmeath side came out at the second half looking to restore parity and only a couple of last ditch tackles from the rock solid Scoil Chriost Ri defence kept Athlone at bay. The Portlaoise girls looked to catch their opponents on the break and they doubled their advantage on 50 minutes when Coleen Rickard’s marauding run split the defence and Grainne Moran was on hand to tap home to leave the Portlaoise girls in a super position.
They sat back a little to protect their lead but an Athlone strike with 15 minutes remaining ensured a nervy finale. Portlaoise keep Natalia Cierpisz bravely snuffed out a late Athlone attack and no matter how hard the Westmeath ladies pressed, they simply couldn’t find an equaliser. Scoil Chriost Ri’s influential captain Averil Westman stepped up to collect the school’s first soccer title in what is only their third year involved.
Scoil Chriost Ri Team: Natalia Cierpisz, Aoife Conroy, Rachel Cross, Claire Dollard, Averil Westman (c), Niamh Dunne, Orla Carroll, Laura Corcoran, Coleen Rickard, Aine Fitzpatrick, Grainne Moran. Subs: Lisha Weldon for G. Moran, Kellie Preston for R. Cross, Leanne Molloy for L. Corcoran.
U-15 Leinster Final
Scoil Chriost Ri 1
Loretto College 2
The roles were reversed two days later however as the Scoil Chriost Ri U-15’s took on the much fancied Loretto Kilkenny girls in Johnstown. With four of the U-19 starting eleven on this side, the Portlaoise girls were quietly confident but they shipped two early goals to leave them facing a mammoth task to add to their soccer trophy cabinet.
A deflected shot cruelly looped over Natalia Cierpisz’s head after just five minutes, and ten minutes later a harsh penalty decision against the Scoil Chriost Ri keeper resulted in Loretto’s star player fire an unstoppable spot kick into the roof of the net.
Playing against both the breeze and the hill of the Kilkenny pitch, Scoil Chriost Ri battled well to keep the score at 2-0 at half time, and they utilised those advantages to their favour as the second half commenced.
The Laois girls poured forward and their superb defence ensured that Loretto were restricted to their own half for much of the half. Jennifer O’Neill’s strong running down the left flank caused the Kilkenny side all sorts of problems and when she earned her side a corner, Grainne Moran swung one on and Coleen Rickard, fresh from her exploits in the U-19 Leinster final, fired her second goal of the week with a neat finish.
Chriost Ri threw the proverbial kitchen sink at the Loretto defence for the remaining twenty minutes. Coleen Rickard saw two super efforts flash just wide of the post and it took a last ditch goal-line clearance to deny a certain equaliser. That was as close as they came unfortunately, and the double dreams were denied despite a stirring display from
Team: Natalia Cierpisz, Aine O’Neill, Jennifer O’Neill, Alannah O’Toole, Maeve Phelan, Orla Carroll (c), Courtney Aldrich, Caoimhe Lalor, Coleen Rickard, Rebecca Keane, Grainne Moran.