By Liam Mackey

As the school year draws to a close, it’s only fitting to acknowledge the tremendous season enjoyed by the DSP girls’ football team who, in only their second year of participation, achieved the notable distinction of finishing runners-up in their league.

Drawn from 4th, 5th and 6th classes, and coached by Mr Mannion, the team entered two challenging competitions – the FAI Dublin Schools Division 2 League and the FAI Dublin Schools Cup.

A stand-out result from their cup run was a 3-2 comeback win in extra time over a Division 1 team, St Francis Xavier NS, while it took another Division 1 side – the eventual champions St Attracta’s – to bring DSP’s interest in that competition to an end in the 3rd Round.

But it was in the league, always regarded as the definitive test of a team’s ability, that DSP truly excelled. Having kicked off their season back in March with a 1-1 draw away to St Killian’s in Clonskeagh, the girls went from strength to strength, beating Our Lady of the Wayside NS and, in a South County Dublin ‘Classico’, getting the better of Glenegeary Killiney NS, to qualify from the group stage for the knock-out rounds.

In 2017, the girls had exited the competition at the quarter-finals but, this time, a convincing win over Glasnevin Educate Together at Kilbogget Park saw them safely through to the semis.

On paper the draw was unkind, pitting them away from home against a strong St Damien’s NS team but in what Mr Mannion believes was the side’s “most complete performance of the season”, the girls rose magnificently to the challenge in Perrystown, emerging victorious with a 3-0 win in a game which was a lot tougher than that scoreline might suggest.

And so to Monday June 11 and all the excitement of the final, as the destiny of the 2018 FAI Dublin Schools Division 2 league came down to a head to head between DSP and St Bernadettes of Quarryvale.

Roared on by a great turn-out of pupils at Irishtown Stadium in Ringsend, DSP got off to a bright start before falling behind to a St Bernadette’s goal. That breakthrough gave their opponents the confidence to apply sustained pressure but a resolute defensive performance kept DSP in the game right to the end.

And, in a match which was played at a relentless pace on a full-size pitch, the girls somehow found the reserves of energy to mount a couple of threatening attacks on the St Bernadette’s goal in the dying moments which, with a little luck, might have seen them send the final into extra-time.

But it was not to be on this occasion. For St Bernadette’s, their 1-0 win was one to cherish since they had lost the previous two finals. For DSP, who were admirably gracious in defeat, there was the consolation of runners-up medals but, more importantly, the satisfaction of knowing that, not only had they given their all on the day but, by achieving so much over the course of the whole season, have ensured that the school’s name is now firmly on the football map in Dublin.

Congratulations to everyone involved – and here’s to next season.