1: Eimear Kelly – County goalie Kelly will be the first to admit that by her high standards she didn’t have the best of days between the sticks but realistically there wasn’t much she could have done about two of the goals and had it not of been for her many point-blank saves and ability to pluck a high ball out of the sky, Kilcock would not have been within a sniff of this final. In Ladies football a solid goalie is key and Kilcock can be thankful that Kelly made the short trip over the Meath/Kildare border a few years back, from Blackhall Gaels. A fine forward in the past before switching to the number one spot in 2006, Kelly showed glimpses of her versatility by coming on full-forward against Celbridge earlier on in the season and scoring four second half points off left and right foot. A great year both personally and collectively for her as she made her Kildare Senior debut v Dublin in the championship and won her first champioship with Kilcock on saturday night. Eimear may be a quiet girl off the field but if her defence are not pulling their weight on it, she will be the first to let them know…and her transfer to goals five years ago is one of the main reasons Kilcock Ladies are where they are today.
2: Fiona Campion – Corner back Fiona Campion has been Ms.Versatility over the past few years, playing many positions ranging from corner back to corner forward but this year new manager Shane Stone has seemed to have found Campion’s best and most affective place on the field, still it took a few challenge and league games to find this and when Stone did make the change, Campion made the position her own, been at her best dispossessing corner forwards, bursting out with the ball and linking up with the half back line and midfield. She had a ding-dong battle with her opponent in the final and was at times up against it but in all she can be happy with her performance, knowing she left nothing behind her on the pitch as she emptied the tank and made way for Therese Macken with fifteen minutes to go. A well deserved first championship medal for Campion after many years of hard work and dedication. And lets hope she can add a Junior A medal over the next year or two as for Kilcock to continue to progress as a team they need experience like that of Fiona’s.
3: Linda Byrne: – Another player who had to adapt to a new position this year was Linda Byrne, and though at times she may have preferred to be on the half-back line as of years gone by, she really grew into the role at full-back and as each game went on she went from strength to strength and frustrated many a dangerous number fourteen along the way. At times it wasn’t easy and she picked up numerous hefty knocks from full-forwards trying to force their way to goal (most notably against Athgarvan in the semi-final and Kilcullen in the final) but each time she popped straight back up and resumed her mission to protect her goalie Eimear Kelly. In the final Byrne had her hands full throughout with Jayne Peacock, a full-forward anyone at this level would love to have in their ranks, and though the scoresheet will show Peacock bagged a hat-trick, this was a bruising battle that Byrne won on more than her fair share of times, throwing a hand in where some people woudln’t put a boot in. Her distribution was top notch all the way through and to get to her feet after a heavy tackle early on was testiment to her character and determination, something that she showed not only on saturday but all year. Linda is a girl that never misses training and is a perfect role model for any young, budding footballer.
4: Mary Tighe – Mary Tighe completed the line-up for the full back line on saturday and she, like the two ladies beside her, had the difficult task of keeping the Kilcullen full forward lines scores to a minimum. Unlike Byrne’s opponent beside here, Tighe’s posed a different threat. She had speed to burn and ran at Kilcock at any given chance but luckily for Kilcock Mary Tighe was in no mood to give away any easy chances on the night, showing utter determination all through the game. At times she may have been guilty for giving her player too much space but Tighe is cute, she would let her opponent receive the ball and then pounce, forcing Kilcullen’s number 13 to lose possession, be blocked down or to kick a wide. When on the ball, Tighe used it well and fed her wing backs and mid-field. She may have been caught out a little for the last goal but it doesn’t take away from an all round solid display from the Laragh Girl. It was a great end to the season for her, a season that didn’t always look like she would gain the no.4 jersey for a county final as she struggled to break into the team early on due to college comittments and a summer working abroad but when available to committ towards the end, she gave 100% and nobody could begrudge her the starting spot over the last few games. Mary is a player much liked by her peers on the pitch and off and always lights up a training session with her chatty, mild-mannered character.
Champ Final Rating: 7
Overall Season Rating: 6.5
5: Orla Cagney – Orla Cagney, like Tighe before her, had an up and down season but also like Tighe there were a lot more ups than downs and Orla’s story on her good finish to the season is all the more remarkable having suffered a bad shoulder injury early on in the championship, forcing her to miss some games and also suffering a bad knee injury in the league, forcing her to miss the league run-in and the final loss to Ballykelly. But Cagney came right at the crucial time of the year and it was fitting to see her don the number 5 jersey on saturday night but not only don it but do it proud and put in sixty minutes of hard work and endeavour. Earlier on in the year when she had been fit to play, she like so many others of similar versatility were tried in numerous positions and though she did well at half forward and full forward, you could see her notable comfort at right-half-back, where she not only defended well but attacked at any given opportunity, adding pressure to Kilcullen’s defence. Orla never lacks effort and she got her just reward with a championship medal at the end of a difficult year. Kilcock will hope that she can stay clear of injuries that have haunted her past cos if she does it will be a major boost in their future quest for a Junior A Championship.
Champ Final Rating: 7.5
Overall Season Rating: 7
6: Aishling O’Connor – Centre Back.We all like to make brash predictions when we’re talking footy with our mates. And more often than not we’re wrong, which leads to a ribbing and possibly the loss of fiver. But none of us here have ever had these predictions broadcast to millions of football viewers – that would be awfully embarrassing if you got it wrong, wouldn’t it? One man who knows how this feels is Alan Hansen,who in 1995 announced on Match of the Day that “You’ll never win anything with kids” after a young Manchester United side lost the season opener to Aston Villa 3-1. That same side went onto win the league and cup that season.. Some people probably thought the same of The Kilcock Ladies at times through this year, with a large chunk of the panel u-16 and a few of them u-14. And no disrespect to any of the other girls in that bracket but thirteen year old Aishling O’Connor was on saturday night, and all year, a star. She showed a skill and a determination beyond her years. On that Man United team were names such as Scholes, Neville, Butt and a certain Mr.Beckham and if Aishling continues to play like she has done up to now for the rest of her career, her name will be a household one in GAA circles just like the aforementioned men were in the world of soccer. Aishling has been one of the first names on manager Shane Stone’s teamsheet all year, despite her age and to hand such a main role as centre back to a girl so young shows how much believe he has in her. On saturday night she controlled her defence, kept her players’ interest in the game to the minimum and attacked with purpose at every available opportunity. She didnt just solo needlessly forward though, she always found her target in the forward line either with a hand pass or a perfectly executed foot pass. Personally I would see her future as maybe a centre forward because in her i can see her footballing brain and in that position she could control games for years to come. In her brief cameo appearance at centre forward this year, the semi final v Athgarvan, she immediately got possession and cleverly found the unmarked Sheena Byrne in a better position, who banged the ball home for a goal. Her vision and coolness at such a tender age is what makes her the player she is. If I was to make comparisons in the GAA world, she reminds me of the great Trevor Giles that played for Meath in the late 90’s and early 00’s. One hopes football and life is kind to this rare talent as they don’t come along very often. One bit of advice I would have for Aishling is to enjoy your championship win and though I hope you have many more, they are not easily won….You have to continue to work hard…..
Champ Final Rating: 8.5
Overall Season Rating: 8.5