THE Mayo Under 13s wrapped up their 2019 Gaynor Cup at University of Limerick today when facing Limerick Desmond in the Plate final.
A recurring theme over the past three days has been how much bigger and physically stronger their opponents have been girl for girl compared to Mayo. It was even more pronounced today with the added factor of tiredness catching up in the green and red girls.
Limerick Desmond flew out of the traps and were two up in a matter of minutes and led 3-0 at the interval.
Things didn't improve from a Mayo point of view in the second half with the Treaty City side adding two further goals and the young Mayo side being unable to get on the scoresheet.
Full time and a 5-0 defeat which was really tough on a bunch of girls who had given their absolute all over the five matches they played. Tournament football can quite often throw up games like this, as all who have been involved with Gaynor Cup sides over the years can attest to.
Runners-up in the Plate final with an overall finish of 10th (out of 20 teams) in the competition in this first year of this age format is most certainly in the 'glass half full' category. They may not believe it today but in facing bigger, stronger more physical opposition so frequently, the Mayo girls are having to hone their technical skill-set. This will really stand to them when they close the gap physically with the other teams.
Speaking afterwards, Mayo Girls Emerging Talent Head Coach John Flanagan was fulsome in his praise for the girls first and foremost and how they conducted themselves on and off the pitch and a pleasure to be around. John also lauded the girls' management team led by Brendan McHugh, everyone else who had helped, including the house mothers, kit girl, PRO and the Mayo Schoolboys/Girls League.
Mayo will have both Under 12 and Under 15 girls teams participating in the second part of the Gaynor Cup during the last weekend in June when the Mayo girls will once again take their places among the country's top female footballers. We have absolutely no doubt that they will hold their own.
Sligo Leitrim won the Gaynor Cup, beating MGL North 3-0 in the final. Galway finished sixth overall.