BY NIALL SHERRY
Sarah Barcoe stars in six-point win over rebels
Kilkenny claimed the Tesco All-Ireland Minor title with a tremendous 6-point victory over holders’ Cork at LIT Gaelic Grounds last Sunday.
As well as being crowned champions, the young cats also prevented the Leesiders from claiming three consecutive minor titles.
From start to finish, Mike Wall’s young camog’s displayed great skill and all-round good hurling to dethrone Cork. Their speed of thought, movement and team play was too much for the holders to contend with over the course of the game.
Cork to their credit started brightly with points from wing-forwards Orlaith Mullins and Aimee Morgan. Thomastown’s Sarah Barcoe then got her first score of the game, before Cork Midfielder and St Finbarrs clubwoman, Ciara Golden restored the rebel’s two-point lead. This appeared to spur Kilkenny on, and they soon found their groove with a fine point from Clara’s Emma Shortall. Soon after, some slack Cork defending saw the ball finds its way to Barcoe, who dispatched it beautifully to the net, to raise the first green flag of the day.
From the next phase of play, Cork won a free which was duly converted by Aimee Morgan. Going into the first water-break, Kilkenny held the slightest of advantages, leading 1-2 to 0-4.
When play resumed, the stripey-women assumed total control, and managed to keep the opposition scoreless until the short whistle as the defence, led superbly by joint-captain Niamh Phelan ensured no further flags were raised. At the other end, Kilkenny’s pace and forward play was causing lots of problems for the Cork rearguard. A lovely brace of points from Dicksboro’s Amy Clifford and another from Sarah Barcoe saw the black and amber reach half-time with a four-point lead, on a score line of 1-5 to 0-4.
The second-half commenced, and the first score would come from James Stephen’s Emma Manogue, pushing the cats lead to five. However, Jerry Wallace’s half-time team-talk must have instilled some much-needed belief in the rebels, as they went on to enjoy their most fruitful period of the game.
Kilkenny’s defence were now under sustained pressure, and Cork managed to translate this on the scoreboard, with points from Rose Murphy and substitute Eimear O’Brien. These scores were built on with further flags raised by Kate Redmond and Orlaith Cahalane. Kilkenny’s lead was now only the minimum, Cork’s four unanswered points had caused doubt to creep into the young cat’s game.
Kilkenny substitute Clare Doheny scored a nice point with her first action of the game to settle the nerves, but again Cork replied win kind with a point from Sarsfields Orlaith Mullins.
As referee Ray Kelly blew for the second water-break, you could get a sense of relief from the Kilkenny faithful, while Cork was the opposite. They believed they had Mike Wall’s team on the back-foot and certainly didn’t welcome the short interval.
The beauty of the water-breaks is that a manager can restore calm, and get his point across in a controlled manner. Mike Wall certainly did that. His charged resumed battle on the front-foot.
Great passages of play saw points registered from as Asha McHardy, Amy Clifford, Sarah Barcoe and Emma Shortall – Kilkenny had rebuilt their lead, and they were not going to let it slip this time. Then in the 52nd minute, player of the match Sarah Barcoe found Emma Shorthall with a lovely pass, and the wing-forward provided the finish that the move deserved. Eight up, the girls knew they just had to manage the closing minutes to take the crown.
Like their senior counter-parts, Cork never gives up. They did reduce the gasp to five, but fittingly, the brightest of black and amber stars, Sarah Barcoe notched her fourth point to see her team home with a 6-point winning margin, 2-12 to 0-12. Kilkenny, Minor champions for the first time since 2015.
Scorers for Kilkenny: S Barco 1-4, E Shorthall 1-2, A Clifford 0-3 (0-2 f), E Manogue, C Doheny, A Mc Hardy 0-1 each.
Cork: E O’Brien 0-3 (0-2 f) O Mullins, O Cahalane 0-2 each, A Morgan 0-2 (0-1 f), R Murphy, C Golden 0-1 each.
KILKENNY: E O’Neill; L Nolan, N Phelan, R Whelan; A Kirwan, M Corcoran, S Jackson; E Manogue, A Doheny; G Glynn, A McHardy, E Shorthall; S Barcoe, S O’Donnell, A Clifford.
Subs: C Doheny for A Dohney (40), R Brennan for S Jackson (inj 55).
CORK: C Hurley; A Cashman, M Healy, C Lynch, E O’Driscoll, A Healy, O McAllen (c); M Murphy, C Golden; A Morgan, R Murphy, O Mullins L Hallihane, M Ring, O Cahalane.
Subs: E O’Brien for L Hallihane (h-t), K Redmond for C Golden (h-t), L McNulty for C Lynch (57), G Ryan for A Cashman (57), J Doyle for C Lynch (57).
Referee: Ray Kelly (Kildare).
>> SHERRY SAYS………..
Fair play to this panel of players…..they believed in Mike Wall’s plan and it worked.
Building a lead, seeing it all but wiped out, then having the composure to do it all again and hold firm – that is the sign of champions, and that’s what our minor camog’s are – All-Ireland Minor Champions.
Cork caused our young cat’s problems, especially just after half-time. The manager said afterwards that the second water-break didn’t contain any huge speech – just the need to remain composed and let their hurling do the talking.
In Sarah Barcoe Kilkenny have a real gem. Her tally of 1-4 doesn’t alone do her performance credit, her speed, movement and pure skill was an absolute joy to behold. The Thomastown shooter has a big, big future ahead of her.
These camogs have helped ease the pain of our senior’s semi-final defeat to Cork. Now let’s hope our Intermediate ladies can be the next team to lift silverware.