Gaynor Cup glory for Cork... U15s hold their nerve in penalty shootout

Gaynor Cup glory for Cork... U15s hold their nerve in penalty shootout
Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

CORK landed the Gaynor Cup U15 after a superb tournament last weekend.

Peter Rowe’s side were crowned champions in the University of Limerick on Sunday after a dramatic penalty shoot-out against South Tipperary in the final.

After the first game in the competition against Donegal side Inishowen, Cork were the tournament’s favourites with a 5-1 win such was their excellent overall superb team performance. Laura Shine, Heidi O’Sullivan scored two a piece while Eva Mangan also chipped in with a great strike. Mangan Shine and Alix Mendez were superb in this game and they certainly set the tone for the remainder of the tournament.

Next up in the afternoon was their game against Carlow. It was a tough game which saw the manager make a few chances and although Shine took the lead with an early goal having got on the end of a perfect pass from Caoimhe Golden, Carlow came out fighting.

In the second half, Carlow were the better side in this period scoring twice with Cork losing 2-1.

Cork’s third game against North East County League was a must win game. The opposition had beaten Carlow the previous day so Cork knew they had to give it their all and they certainly did this.

They were absolutely superb with Shine on fire scoring four while O’Sullivan, Mia O’Connell, Avy Lotty and Mendez chipped in with a goal each. Sadbh McGolderick, Mendez, Shine and O’Connell all had great performances in this game which led to Cork securing a semi-final spot.

Mia O'Connell of Cork in action against Emma O'Sullivan of Tipp. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Mia O'Connell of Cork in action against Emma O'Sullivan of Tipp. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

The semi-final was against Galway. A tough outfit which were also one of the favourites in the competition. Cork needed to get off to a good start against this physical side and they did just that.

Cork were awarded a penalty early in the game and O’Sullivan coolly slotted to put Cork in front. Cork dominated most of this game with great performances all round with the defensive unit of Mendez, Abi Hurley, McGolderick and Orlaigh Deasy solid while Shine up front was in super form once again finishing the game with a hat trick.

She hit a total of 10 goals all tournament which would definitely have given her Player of the Tournament if one was awarded. Cork were absolutely thrilled to have booked a place in the cup final, in which they thoroughly deserved.

The final was set for Sunday at 2pm and in front of a massive crowd, the Cork girls once again started well. However with all their dominance, they failed to score.

Chances fell to Sine, O’Connell, O’Sullivan, Deasy and a great opportunity for Mendez in the dying moments but credit to the South Tipp keeper, who kept her side in the game, and it then went to penalties.

It was a nerve-wracking time for everyone, but Cork once again showed real composure in winning the shoot-out 4-3 much to the delight of the management, players and supporters. A fabulous day for Cork football. Well done to all involved.

Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Manager Peter Rowe was thrilled with the win and praised all involved.

“A fantastic achievement for a great bunch of girls,” said Rowe. “It was a fantastic experience for me to be back this year as a manager for the third time.

“I have to thank my coaching staff of Ryan O’Neill, Kelly Buckley, Aine O’Donovan, Aoife Russell and Peter Murphy for all their help and hard work over the last six months.

“The players were superb all throughout the tournament and deserved to win it outright. Huge credit to everyone involved. The girls were a huge credit to their families. I am absolutely delighted for them all.”

There were eight different clubs from Cork involved with Wilton having the largest contingent of nine. Each girl did their clubs proud and winning was a credit to their club coaches.

“Every girl from one to 20 were a credit to themselves, their families, their clubs and the Cork League.

“They should be immensely proud of themselves.

“I am sure some of them will progress on to the ETP and Centres of Excellence Programs as they have unbelievable potential. Each and every girl left her heart on the pitch over the weekend and there couldn’t have been anymore asked of them.

“I wish them the very best for their future footballing career.”

SQUAD: Ailbhe Moloney, Alix Mendez, Grace O’Driscoll, Ellie O’Brien, Mia O’Connell, Caoimhe Golden, Laura Shine, Robyn O’Connor, Abi Hurley (Wilton United), Caoimhe Russell, Maeve O’Leary (Douglas Hall), Ava Lotty (Leeside), Rosie Speakman (Springfield), Sadbh McGolderick, Hannah Corcoran, Heidi O’Sullivan (Lakewood), Eva Mangan (Carrigaline), Lucy Greene (Riverstown), Orlaith Deasy, Holly Warren (Bandon), Muireann Deasy (Passage).

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