Athy had a physically strong set of players running their midfield. Our midfield trio of Sam, Maz and Swift were ready for the challenge and used their pass and move play to their advantage. Athy’s Number 9 was causing us trouble up front with warning signs coming early in the game with some attacking play coming on the wing. Jack Taaffe started in goal due to our goalkeepers being away and he manned the back of the defence looking to play out from the back and offered great aerial advantage with catches in the air.
It took 4 minutes to get onto the scoresheet. Alex Donnelly Swift worked hard to take a ball down from a clearance from a corner in the middle of the park. He slotted a perfect weighted pass into the path of Ben McDonald who kept the ball at his feet as he passed out his defender playing him onside. With a one on one against the keeper, Ben made sure to take advantage and kept it low and hard and passed it into the back of the net. It took Athy 3 minutes to react as we conceded a goal with an individual effort from Athy’s left hand side.
Daire Kellegan and Adam Bolster were working hard alongside each other against their pacey forwards with Pat Bagnall and Sean Joyce adding to the attack as fullbacks. It took 21 minutes for us to get back on the scoresheet , with Maz picking up the ball in midfield and playing the ball out to Oisin Smith who took his goal with a great solo run and hit the ball low and hard into the side netting.
Sam Flynn was running the midfield as he worked hard to retrieve each ball that was lost and moved the ball effectively in the forward attack. We went 3-1 up on the 25th minute with some fantastic interplay between Oisin, Sam and Sean adding to the attack. This was passed into the path of Maz who played the ball out to the right flank where Conor Egan made sure of his shot into the back of the net. We conceded a penalty just before half time with Athy applying the pressure on our back line and he was brought down in the box. Taaffe picked the right side to save the penalty with his feet but we conceded our second goal when we didn’t react to the rebound.
After our half time talk, our boys were encouraged to push ahead in the second half and to try and keep the ball. It was 13 minutes into the second half where a clearance from Adam led to the ball being collected by Conor who put it into the path of Swift who was finding pockets in all areas of the midfield. The ball was slotted into the path of Oisin who took a touch past the first defender then the second and was slotted into the back of the net. 4-2! Kevin Reilly and Sean were working hard in their full back roles and adding effective well placed passes towards the attacking line. A crucial goal going forward in the game. This gave us the momentum in the game with Swift winning a free kick outside the box after being brought down by Athy’s physical no 6 who was trying to boss the midfield. Sam stood over the ball and put the ball into the box with a shot on target. The keeper spilled the ball with Ben putting the pressure on the keeper where the ball fell into the path of Oisin who completed his Hat-trick with his desire to slide the ball into the goal. Jack came out of goals to add pressure to Athy’s back line. He held up the ball well and added to the physical side of the line of attack. Maz, Sam and Swift were getting a lot of the ball as Athy tired. Sam got onto the ball towards the last 5 minutes and drove the ball forward with some attacking intent. He crossed the ball from the right hand side into the box, where Taaffe added his name to the scoresheet with his first goal for NCC with a header into the back of the net.
The final score ended as 6-2 but the score didn’t reflect our difficult opposition who made us work for our result and showed periods of physical dominance. Very proud of this group and look forward to seeing how these boys can improve in the next game! Special mention to Alex Donnelly Swift for a fantastic performance in midfield for his MOTM performance. Mention to go to Sam Flynn also who got referee’s MOTM for his relentless performance in midfield and the amount of ground that he covered.