From their very first kick-about 18 months ago, to almost 40 people every week for training and playing in the big leagues, Belfast Ravens have achieved a lot in a really short space of time!
I’ve only been involved as sponsor since the start of the year, but I was absolutely thrilled, and so so proud to be alongside them for their first ever competitive fixture, against Banbridge Rangers, in the NIWFA Division 4
The dedication, determination and sheer guts they show week in, week out is awesome and always super inspiring - and they did themselves proud with a nail-bitingly narrow 1-0 defeat - delighted for them!
I’ll leave you with the full match write up from manager David O’Reilly (known to most as Rigsy) - go RAVENS!
Banbridge Rangers 1-0 Belfast Ravens
A heartbreaking result but an absolutely incredible performance from every player, who more than stepped up for our first ever competitive game.
Banbridge Rangers are a great side - very young and very fast - but we were organised, tough and confidant from the start - more than matching them across the pitch. The first half was hugely entertaining and end to end - with Caiti McCloskey very unlucky not to put away a couple of chances and Danielle Williamson lobbing the keeper from distance only to see the ball somehow bounce over the bar.
Second half we lost key players to injury, but maintained our focus - only for a very rare lapse in concentration at the back allowing the home side to take the lead.
Last fifteen was all Ravens - with huge amounts of pressure and a number of outstanding tackles keeping us from getting the equaliser, though McCloskey again - and then Emer Maguire - came very close. And then - high drama in the closing moments, with the Ravens pressure resulting in a penalty, which proved to be the last kick of the game. Unfortunately the keeper saved - it just wasn't meant to be.
WOTM voted for by the players was Fran Payne, once again a rock at the back, though Hannah Anderson and Corrina Fleming were also both superb. Emer Maguire also did a great job covering in midfield when we lost Laura Adams to injury.
If we bottle the grit and courage from tonight - we will surprise a lot of people this season.
Starting XI -
Kulisz, Alverez Alonso (sub Lakes), Payne, Diamond-Joss, Parker (sub McCullough), Williamson, Flemming, Adams (sub Vardy), Anderson, Maguire, McCloskey.