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It has truly been a rough few days for the girl's of Midleton College who today suffered a second Cup Final defeat in the space of 3 days following a 5 - 3 defeat in Cahir Park this afternoon.
In this Munster Final the College started really well and dominated the opening exchanges. Barbara Garcia, our marvellous exchange student befittingly nicknamed "El Torro" , was causing havoc up top as she used her physicality to great effect to create several good openings for the College. Soon however, Askeaton grew into the game and had a flurry of great chances. Netminder Kerri Fitzgerald made a super stop from point blank range to keep the match scoreless on the 15 minute mark. Constant Askeaton pressure was being reflected back by the fearless Grace Nolan and Ally Stuart who bravely put their bodies on the line on countless occasions during the opening twenty minutes. Soon the College's defensive heroics paid dividends with the girls scoring from a corner up top to put the team into the lead, somewhat against the run of play. Midfield maestro Dani Stuart getting the final touch to put the college into the lead on the 30 minute mark to continue her incredible goalscoring run.
Midleton unfortunately could not hold on until half time as Askeaton's siege finally broke the College's lines. A lofted pass over the top of our back four sending the talented opposition number 9 through to dink a ball past Fitzgerald in goal to make the game 1 a piece at half time.
The second half started much the same as the first with Midleton dominating the opening exchanges. Dani Stuart made a flying break down the left hand side to put 'El Torro' through on goal before Barbara was cut down to win the college a deserved penalty. Senior captain Rachel O'Sullivan stepped forward to slot home in clinical fashion. Just reward for her tireless running all game.
Unfortunately, it was Midleton's second goal which seemed to spur Askeaton on. A barrage of long balls soon rained down on the Midleton defence. Captain Rachel Stuart was exemplary in her defensive work all game and along with the warrior like Isobel Barry in the middle of the park the girls were able to hold firm despite the constant onslaught. On the 55th minute however, Askeaton scored an equaliser, which was followed in quick succession by a third and fourth goal. It was clear that the 6 girls who played in Wednesday's all Ireland final were struggling physically with fatigue. The College sent on fresh legs in the form of Millie Bowles, Mary Donnelly and Trudi Kearney , all of whom acquitted themselves very well.
In the final 10 minutes Askeaton scored a fifth to put the game beyond doubt. Despite this, the girls refused to lie down and Rachel O'Sullivan soon defiantely scored Midleton's third to put a late gloss on the scoreline. Isabel Diaz entered the fray for the College towards the end of the game , replacing an excellent Naoise Hogan whose bravery was exemplified by the injury she sustained as she gallantly crashed into a tackle to rescue the Midleton defence once again.
With the vast majority of this squad eligible again for next years Cup , it is certainly clear that this will not be the last final that this group of players will be involved in. The girls can hold their heads up with pride after a great season. Their positivity, work ethic and camaraderie will undoubtedly be rewarded in the near future with silverware. Furthermore, with a fantastic group of first year students doing really well in their respective league, the future of Midleton College Soccer is certainly very bright.