Trip to The Aviva Stadium

On Wednesday 31st May, an army of supporters from Scoil an Athar Tadhg advanced on the Aviva Stadium in anticipation of what was to be a very memorable occasion. Their only mission - to shout, chant and sing in support of their school soccer team, who had gifted them a magnificent day out in the majestic Aviva Stadium. The Munster Champions faced a date with destiny against schools from the other three provinces in what was sure to be an unforgettable experience.           It was a spine tingling moment when the boys of Scoil an Athar Tadhg emerged from the tunnel to the sound of the Champions League anthem, a fitting tune that acknowledged the significance of the occasion and the achievement of all the participants. It was to be the last of the ceremonial displays before the real business of soccer matches began.           Up first, the Ulster champions from Co. Donegal, who certainly looked to be a physically imposing team. Unfazed, the boys of Scoil an Athar Tadhg enjoyed the better of the early exchanges.  SAT’s forward, John O’ Sullivan, was in dazzling form in front of goal and was ably assisted by our midfield man Ryan Bradburn. Cian Crowley worked very hard when called upon from the bench and was very unlucky not to score. Despite going ahead on a couple of occasions, the Donegal team showed why they were Ulster champions and kept themselves in the game with a couple of goals. With the game evenly poised and headed for a draw, the Ulster boys produced a decisive moment to seal a win in the first game. A bitter pill for our boys to swallow but they had shown more than enough to be optimistic heading into the next game.         Next up, Scoil an Athar Tadhg would face the Connaught Champions from Sligo who were buoyed after victory in their opening game over the Leinster Champions. The hunger and determination was very evident from the get go as Carraig na bhFear completely dominated the early exchanges. Our backs, Kevin Fitzpatrick and Zach Lynch, looked very comfortable in defence and made bombarding runs forward that left the opposition bewildered and stretched. This domination was reflected on the scoreboard as Carraig looked as if they were heading into half time 2-0 up but, on the stroke of halftime, the Connaught champions pulled one back to come within a goal of Carraig. Unfortunately, this was to set the precedent for things to come in the second half. Despite an impressive display in both attack and defence from substitute Aaron Ryan, Carraig struggled to regain the fluency they possessed in buckets during the first half and eventually the Connaught boys netted a deserved equaliser. The Carraig defence found themselves under increased pressure with our unwavering goalkeeper Martin Murphy producing some outstanding saves to keep his side in the game. In the dying moments, the Connaught champion’s pressure payed off as an unstoppable shot into the top corner sealed Carraig’s fate. The quintessential game of two halves had unfolded in front of our eyes resulting in a narrow 3-2 defeat for Carraig na bhFear.         At this stage the team and supporters knew that the dream of All Ireland Champions was beyond them, however, they still had one more game to play to determine the 3rd place position. After an exhausting first two games, coaches Mr White, Miss Keane and Mr. O’ Driscoll felt fresh legs were needed in the final game. Starts were handed out to Lewis McGrath, Aaron Ryan and Cian Crowley who certainly didn’t disappoint. The Carraig boys looked comfortable in the opening exchanges and skilfully outplayed their counterparts. Midway through the first half, the on-looking spectators witnessed a moment of magic from Lewis McGrath, who arguably scored Carraig’s best goal of the day. Under pressure from the defender, Lewis hit a pearl of a left foot shot from distance across the goalkeeper into the bottom corner. Carraig had taken a well-deserved lead. However, the Leinster Champions from County Louth didn’t give up as they enjoyed a purple patch either side of halftime. Before long, Carraig na bhFear found themselves a goal behind. The boys of Scoil an Athar Tadhg were in all too familiar territory after surrendering another lead. Not to be disheartened, the lads dug deep and some neat interplay between the skillful Ryan Bradburn and the prolific John O’ Sullivan resulted in a second half hat-trick for John, who showed nerves of steel in front of goal. Scoil an Athar Tadhg walked off the pitch victorious to a sea of red and green supporters, who deserve huge credit for their relentless encouragement throughout.         The tournament was eventually won by the Connaught Champions from Sligo, but the boys from Scoil an Athar Tadhg graciously accepted their medals and departed the tournament knowing they were a resolute match for any team in the country.  
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