Bray L2XI 0 - 1 Kilkenny L1XI
Bray L2 faced top of the table Kilkenny in Loreto Bray this sunny Saturday afternoon. They knew coming into the game that it was going to be a tough, fast paced game and that their work rate would have to be high from the offset. Following their win against Wexford last weekend they had fire in their bellies and were determined to give it their all. Their fast-paced warm up set the tone for what was to be an excellent first half-performance.
Bray pushed high into the Kilkenny half from the first whistle and put a lot of pressure on Kilkenny’s defence. Bray’s forward line of Alison Dawson Whelan, Helen Kingston and Kathy O’Toole made great runs up the wings and throughout Kilkenny’s 25, but were unfortunate not to find the back of the net. Bray dominated the possession for the first 15 minutes with Juliette King-hall, Clare Holland and Niamh Baldwin linking up well in mid-field, creating some great passages of play and distributing the ball well up into Kilkenny’s 25 and into their D. Bray were pressing high and pushing for a goal when Kilkenny managed to turn the ball over and make a quick break. It was from this, their first real passage of play, that they managed to catch Bray on the back foot and score a goal, which was to be the only goal of the game.
Although Bray were frustrated that they had dominated the possession and had found themselves a goal down, team captain Clare Murray’s encouraging words from the backline spurred everyone on to keep pushing for the goal that they knew they deserved. The addition of fresh legs in the form of Samantha Speidel, Emily Wray and Ella Horgan gave Bray an extra boost as they continued to push up into Kilkenny’s half and create some more goal chances.
Kilkenny demonstrated some good attacking play during the end of the first half, but Bray’s defensive line of Sinéad O’Toole, Caoimhe Hardiman, Laura Stewart and Clare Murray put their bodies on the line and were determined to keep the score-line as it was going into the second half.
Following a very constructive half-time talk, Bray knew that they would have to work even harder in the second half if they were to come away with some points from this game. Kilkenny’s press was very high, meaning that there was a lot of space in behind their back line. Bray managed to break through this a few times and had some great runs of play within Kilkenny’s 25 and were unfortunate not to score from one of these. Kilkenny also created quite a number of goal chances from open play, with Bray’s goalie Emma Healy making some exceptional saves. Kilkenny were awarded a number of short corners and the training that has gone into Bray’s defensive corners over the last number of weeks was very evident – there was no way that ball was getting through them!
Bray struggled a bit towards the end of the second half and made some panicky decisions on the ball, putting themselves under quite a lot of pressure. In true Bray L2 fashion though, they found that extra gear in the last five minutes and created some very strong goal chances. However, Kilkenny’s defence were solid and determined not to leave without their 3 points. When the final whistle blew Bray were very disappointed, knowing that the game could have been completely different if they had been able to take their chances in the first half. However, the arrival of new team mascot ‘Frank the pug’ put a smile back on everyone’s faces and Bray left the pitch proud of their efforts, knowing that coach Doug Keeley had plenty for them to work on next week in training.
A big thank you to Niamh Fleming for umpiring the game!
Match report by Helen Kingston!