All-Ireland B U-14 FC Final: Roscommon v Tipperary (on Saturday in Banagher at 3.45 pm)
Roscommon’s U-14 ladies football team face Tipperary in an eagerly-awaited All-Ireland B final in Banagher, County Offaly on Saturday next. It has been a topsy-turvy campaign for the Pat Leonard-managed side who recovered brilliantly from a heavy defeat by Mayo to beat them by three points in the Connacht final before going on to beat Meath in the All-Ireland semi-final.
Roscommon began their campaign with a narrow defeat to Leitrim and a big win against Sligo. However Roscommon were defeated by Mayo and Galway and thus qualified for the Connacht B Final. In that game they faced Mayo –who had beaten them by 19 points earlier in the championship. In that B final they turned the tables on Mayo, winning by 2-7 to 2-4. In the subsequent All-Ireland semi-final Roscommon defeated Meath by 2-6 to 0-9.
The team are managed by Pat Leonard, assisted by selectors Ray Shanagher and Gerry Lennon. I spoke to Pat Leonard on Wednesday and he was looking forward to Saturday’s game with great confidence.
“It’s not every day that you get into an All-Ireland final and we are looking forward to it immensely. We are improving in every game and hopefully that will continue this Saturday.
“We shipped a bit of criticism earlier in the year because we don’t play too many challenge games and I am a big believer in not doing too much physical work with players at this age. We made some mistakes early in the year but as we got to know the girls on the panel and how they reacted to different situations, the team became much stronger as the year went on.
“After we were well beaten by Mayo we re-grouped and trained hard. We made a few changes to the team and they worked out well. There is great character in these girls. They have a great never-say-die attitude and they work so hard for eachother on the field of play.
“We were down in several games in the championship this year – but we didn’t panic at any stage – which is a good sign. Tipperary are a very good side. Cork are by far the best side in Munster, followed by Kerry, but Tipperary would be up there with Kerry and they are a fast and very skillful team. We will have to play at the top of our game to beat them on Saturday but I feel that we can do that and bring the cup home. The girls certainly deserve it and it would be a great day for them if we could win. I am confident that we will too” he concluded.
With players from 15 clubs represented on the team, there is a great spread of girls from all over the county involved, so the hope will be that there will be good support for the team on Saturday – and hopefully they will be present to cheer Roscommon on to a memorable win.