Trim ladies strike gold with a Royal performance

Trim Celtic ladies soccer club have always been regular participants in the Meath Community Games finals.

On rare occasions they advanced to the provincial weekend, but no further. Mosney, or Athlone, as is now the case, was never reached.

Not that it was the source of any great concern; the local league and cup competitions had always taken precedence. Community Games was a mere afterthought.

Earlier this year, however, joint-managers Declan Rispin and Mark Leavy decided this season would be different. The Community Games would be moved to the top of the agenda, rather than just an end of season sideshow. All challengers within the county were successfully dismantled before U15 provincial gold was struck.

Expectations ahead of the journey to Athlone were relatively low-key, players and management alike unsure of what to expect. This was, after all, unchartered territory.

Saturday’s semi-final against Fanad of Donegal was taken at a canter. 7-0 Trim. The realisation dawned that this particular group were more than a match for what other provinces had to offer.

The decider, however, was a much tighter affair and, though the Royals grabbed an early goal, it was backs to the wall stuff thereafter, as Kilmallock swept forward at every turn.

The Meath girls defended their advantage tenaciously, an insatiable drive to maintain a clean sheet proving crucial. In the end, they held on, if only just.

“They won the cup and the league back home, but they wanted to do something that had never been achieved before,” admitted Mark Leavy. “It has been a long road and the fact that it was such a tight final, that is why there was such emotion at the end.”

“When we got to Athlone we adopted the mentality ‘we’re here now and we’re not going home without the cup’,” added Declan Rispin.

“We won Meath, but never managed to get past Leinster. That is why this win is extra special, to go the whole way on our first year at the national finals.”

Indeed, the victory was a real family effort with Declan’s two daughters Kathy and Lauren lining out, with wife Lisa serving on the backroom team, while Mark’s daughter Karley captained the side.

“To get to the nationals and to win is something so, so special,” beamed Karley.

“It was brilliant for us. We were a bit nervous going out, but we buried in the goal as early as we could and we stuck to it to the end. We were really strong in defence. Last year we were very disappointed to get to the Leinster finals in Carlow but not to progress to the nationals.”

And having Dad on the line? “It is a little bit tougher because you get blamed for everything! It pushes you harder though, it makes you want to try harder because you are bringing your family into this.”

Kathy Rispin is hoping the gold medal win will soften the usual criticism served up by the other dad on the line: “He’s always being strict and as Karley said we always get the blame. It is always me. I hope now he won’t be giving out seeing as we have the gold.”

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