THE Skibbereen and Districts Community U14 Ladies Football team recently captured the All-Ireland final at the annual Community Games which were held in UL.
The victorious team is comprised of players from Castlehaven, Ilen Rovers, O’Donovan Rossa, and Tadhg MacCarthaigh who combined their playing talent together and successfully took on the rest of the country.
The team was coached to All-Ireland glory by Ger Carey and Miriam Forbes.
The talented U14 footballers emerged victorious after they defeated Dublin in the All-Ireland final which enabled them to win the title in that grade for the first time in their history. Team coach Miriam Forbes was thrilled with their success.
“It was a fantastic achievement to win the All-Ireland U14 Community Games title. We have had previous All Ireland successes in the U12 grade in 2018 and 2019 but had never moved beyond the Munster final with the U14 age group. When the final whistle blew in the All-Ireland Final, it felt so surreal,” she said.
The Skibbereen and Districts Community U14 team defeated Cavan by one point in the All-Ireland semi-final which secured their passage into the All-Ireland final. They narrowly defeated the Ulster champions following a dramatic late point.
Their team coach knew Cavan would pose a serious test of their title credentials.
“Having previously met Cavan two years ago, we knew we were going to be in a serious battle. At half time we were up by five points and maintained that lead until the second water break.
"Cavan then got a goal and a point in quick succession which led to a very tense finale in which both teams traded scores. With two minutes remaining, both teams were level.
"Our character shone through however as we scored a point in the last minute to win by the narrowest of margins.”
The West Cork heroes saved their best performance for the All-Ireland final when they turned in a blistering display as they cruised to a victory over Dublin on a full-time scoreline of 6-13 to 3-4. Miriam was very pleased with the nature of their performance in the final.
“Our girls were convincing winners over Dublin. It was a great performance by all the players in the All-Ireland series. They left everything on the pitch that weekend. They displayed a super attitude. Their determination and belief to win are the reasons they are deserving All-Ireland champions.”
The jubilant players received a huge ovation upon their return back home to Skibbereen that evening with the All-Ireland trophy as they were acclaimed by proud family members, club colleagues, and friends. Miriam said the triumphant nature of their return home will ‘live with the girls’ for years to come.
“There were fantastic celebrations for the homecoming that evening in Skibbereen. There was a parade through the town followed by refreshments. All four clubs were represented by their loyal supporters who cheered on the girls around the town.
"There were great scenes of joy and memories that will remain with the girls for years to come.”
The modest coach highlighted the great coaching work that is going on within the four clubs Castlehaven, Ilen Rovers, O’Donovan Rossas, and Tadhg MacCarthaigh as a key ingredient in their success.
“Everyone played a big part in the All-Ireland win. They are a talented group of players. We are fortunate to have players from local clubs competing at a very high level.
"Many thanks have to be given to the coaches for the work they are putting into the development of all their players in their respective clubs. We are also very grateful to the four clubs for the release of these players to us for training and games and the use of their pitches.
"Even though the girls are from four different clubs, they became great friends and really bonded which was reflected on the pitch in all their performances,” she added.
Miriam loves coaching and helping players fulfill their potential. She invests huge time into coaching throughout Cork.
She was recently appointed as the assistant Female Liasion Officer with the Cork senior ladies footballers, while she also has various coaching roles with her club Dohenys.
She was delighted to help out both the U12 and U14 Skibbereen and Districts Community football teams this year.
“I was delighted to get involved. A special mention should be given to the U12 team who were unlucky not to progress past the Munster series this year. I have no doubt that these young girls will be victorious next year.
"It was great to team up with Ger. He is a very passionate coach with great knowledge of the game. He puts huge work into the organisation of this event each year.”
The coaching enthusiast is confident these players will return to their respective clubs as better players following their success in the Community Games.
“We are confident that these girls will return to their clubs better and more confident players. Many of the girls that were on the 2021 U14 and U16 inter-county panels from the West Cork division would have all been involved in the Skibbereen and District Community Games teams since 2018.
"We hope that this will continue for many years to come.”