BY NIALL SHERRY
McCormick & Kelly star in Croker victory
Our intermediate camogs season ending in disappointment following Sunday’s defeat to Antrim in Croke Park, on a score line of 2-21 to 2-13.
John Scott’s team headed to the Capital with victory in mind, but Antrim hadn’t read the Kilkenny script, and the northern ladies put on a wonderful display to run out deserved winners.
The Saffrons had stars all over the pitch, but the stand-out performers were the attacking terrors of Roisin McCormick and Maeve Kelly, who contributed 14-points of the winner’s total. On the evidence of this performance, Antrim will be a fantastic addition to the senior camogie roster.
The scoring got off to a fast start at headquarters with Maeve Kelly registering the first point in the opening minute. Thomastown attacker Sarah Walsh levelled matters soon after with a nice point. Not to be outdone by her clubmate, Eva Hynes then got the black and amber’s second point soon after, before Leann Fennelly’s nifty footwork found Walsh, who slotted over her second score to leave Kilkenny 0-3 0-1 ahead after just four minutes. Young Irelands Ciara O’Keefe, fresh from an eye-catching semi-final display against Meath, then pointed to give the cats a three-point lead in the fifth minute.
Everything was looking rosy for the Noresiders. Things could have gotten even better had Hannah Scott’s strike on goal been a couple of inches the other side of the post. This near miss appeared to prompt Antrim into action as they quickly found their scoring groove. Loughgiel Shamrocks Roisin McCormick hit a hat-trick of points, without reply, before Saffrons captain Lucia McNaughton and a second score from Maeve Kelly left Antrim one point to the good at the first water break, 0-6 to 0-5.
When play resumed, Sophie O’Dwyer hit her first score of the day from a free to draw the sides level. Dunloy midfielder Nicole O’Neill then scored, only for the reliable Eva Hynes to respond in kind, before Ballycastle’s Kelly surged through the Kilkenny defence before firing to the net, leaving Sinead Farrell no chance as Antrim took a three-point lead.
From the sideline, it appeared that Antrim were going to build further on their lead, but to their credit, Kilkenny’s forwards rallied to keep their side in touch, with points from James Stephens Sophie O’Dwyer and another from Eva Hynes leaving just the minimum between the sides. The game was flowing, however neither side appeared to be capable of assuming total control. Paul McKillen’s team then produced another scoring burst, a second point from Nicole O’Neill, two more from McCormick and a lovely one from Loughgiel’s Catrine Dobbin saw the yellow’s reach the interval with a 5-point lead, 1-11 to 0-9.
As the second period got under way, Maeve Kelly hit a lovely point to extend Antrim’s lead. Kilkenny appeared to becoming more reliant on the accuracy of placed balls from corner-forward O’Dwyer, who knocked over a couple more. In what was to prove the most crucial period of the game, the match exploded just ahead of the second water break.
Sophie O’Dwyer stunned the Antrim contingent with a wonder strike from a 20 metre free, raising a green flag to bring hope to the Kilkenny faithful. John Scott’s side now trailed by four. In what was to prove to be the sign of champions, the Ulster side responded with points from those twin terrors McCormick and Kelly along with their full-forward line partner Dobbin.
Any hope of Kilkenny comeback was well and truly crushed when a wonderful Antrim move resulted in McCormick finding her Loughgiel clubmate Dobbin, who rifled an unstoppable shot to the back of the net to raise her sides second green flag of the day. Try as they might, the stripey-women couldn’t claw back the deficit. Further scores from O’Dwyer, Therese Donnelly and a late consolation major from Mooncoin’s Sarah Crowley brought some respectability to the score line, but by this stage the result was beyond doubt. The final score of the game came from Nicole O’Neill, as she hit her third point of the day. Jack McGrath was going to the Glens. There was to be no silver lining for our camogs this time.
SCORERS FOR KILKENNY: S O’Dwyer 1-5(0-4fs); S Crowley 1-0; S Walsh, E Hynes 0-2 each; C Phelan, C O’Keeffe, D Quigley, T Donnelly 0-1 each
KILKENNY: S Farrell, N Leahy, R Phelan, C Murphy, S Crowley, L Fennelly, T Fitzgerald, L Hegarty, C Phelan, E Hynes, S Walsh, C O’Keeffe, S O’Dwyer, H Scott, D Quigley. Subs: J Leahy for Hegarty (36), T Donnelly for Quigley inj (43), S O’Keeffe for Fitzgerald (46), C Dowling for Scott (55), R O’Keeffe for C O’Keeffe (57)
SCORERS FOR ANTRIM: R McCormick 0-9(4fs); M Kelly 1-5; C Dobbin 1-2; N O’Neill 0-3; L McNaughton, A Magill 0-1 each
ANTRIM: C Graham, C Drain, N Donnelly, M Lynn, C Patterson, C Conlon, M Connolly, L McNaughton, N O’Neill, M Kelly, A Boyle, A Magill, R McCormick, C Laverty, C Dobbin. Subs: A Connolly for Laverty (38), K Carey McAleese for Magill (50), S Devlin for Patterson (60), L McKenna for Boyle (60+1), K McKillop for M Connolly (60+1)
REFEREE: Conor Quinlan (Galway)
>> SHERRY SAYS………..
As the curtain comes down on the inter-county camogie season, there was to be no Jack Mc Grath Cup residing in Kilkenny.
I think it’s fair to say, and John Scott has alluded to it since Sunday’s game, that our camogs, didn’t play to their potential in the final. It may be a case of if’s, but’s and maybes, but the bottom line is that the winners were thoroughly deserving of their victory.
Antrim will now take a seat at the top table of camogie, and if their final performance is anything to go by, they will be an excellent addition to the ‘elite’ section. Not many counties will relish travelling to Dunloy, or Loughgiel to tackle the Saffrons.
In Roisin McCormick and Maeve Kelly, they had two wonderful attacking performers. Kelly finished the day with a tally of 1-5 – all from play, her partner in crime, McCormick 0-9. Throw Catrine Dobbin’s 1-2 into the mix, along with midfielder Nicole O’Neill’s 0-3, and you begin to see the foundations for this victory.
Enough about Antrim. John Scott, while disappointed at his side’s performance, will take great heart from the developments his team has made this season. Sophie O’Dwyer, along with Danielle Quigley, Eva Hynes and Ciara O’Keefe have all shown up well. More is certainly expected next season.