Last Saturday the Samphires U17 team played the Park in Tralee. Earlier in the season we lost 5 3 in the reverse fixture and we were up against a team which has a current Irish international and almost all their players have represented Kerry at various levels underage. The pattern of the game was established early with Park having more of the ball and us playing on the break. Our initial formation of 4 4 2 wasn’t working very well as the Park played through us a little too easily with their 2 wingers especially causing us difficulties and from one of these attacks we conceded when a delightful throughball resulted in a footrace between their forward and Eoghan O’Brien which was just about won by their lad who nicked the ball past Eoghan to score. Eoghan could have taken him down but he let his head rule which as it turned out was a pivotal decision in deciding the final outcome. We changed our formation at this stage, played with an extra midfielder and fought our way back into it after this setback with Sean Higgins and David Murphy in attack recycling the ball we now had some possession. From a through ball this time from David Egan in the 20th minute Sean beat the defender and smashed the ball off the underside of the crossbar for a thunderous equaliser. The game ebbed and flowed for the next 10 minutes with a high standard on view and both teams could claim a number of half chances. In the 30th minute, Jamie Hogan at left back moved the ball on to Bobby O’Regan on the left who played it 1 touch into Gary Nolan in midfield. He skipped past a tackle and threaded another ball to Sean again who finished past the advancing keeper to make it 2 1 at the half. In the second half we were on the defensive throughout. We introduced Louis Ryle to give us some much needed energy in midfield and he was strong for us. We lost Sean and David up front and Antoin Stanton came on on the right and like Louis on the right he helped shore up the defence. Luke Dalton now on up front, ploughed a lone furrow but never gave up and kept the Park defence honest. The pressure on us increased and increased as time wore on but Gary, David and Thomas in midfield clocked up miles and made many tackles for the cause. At the back Jamie on the left Padraig O’Connor on the right were tigerish, never letting a Park player get any ball without pressure. In the centre Paul Nolan and Frosty Ronan were 2 pillars for us, repulsing all that was thrown at them and Eoghan behind them dominated the box not to mention 1 or 2 saves he pulled off especially near the end. Overall a real gutsy performance but we’ll have to work harder on keeping possession as you can’t give your opponent as much possession as we did today. But a great result for us after the toughest of matches. Thanks too to the Park club who went to the trouble of organising another pitch because their own was not available on the day because of an underage blitz and for their magnanimity to us after the game.