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2019: The Year In Review

By Camogie Press
Posted 2019-12-18 00:00:00
by Cian Nelson
2019 was another exciting and entertaining year for Camogie with great change both on and off the pitch as many new faces lifted the all-important pieces of silverware along the way.
January saw an early start to the intercounty season as the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie Leagues began with 10 counties getting Division 1 underway in mid-January.
January also saw the Semi-Finals of the AIB All-Ireland Senior and Intermediate Club Championships take place with crucial places in March's Finals at stake. In the end Derry's Slaughtneil and St. Martin's of Wexford reached the Senior Final with victories over Ardrahan of Galway and Inniscarra of Cork respectively. Down's Clonduff and Gailltír of Waterford made the Intermediate Final by defeating Craughwell of Galway and Offaly's St. Rynagh's respectively.
In February, the Third Level Ashbourne Finals took place with UL lifting the Ashbourne Cup for an incredible fourth year in-a-row after beating UCC in the Final! Maynooth University dethroned NUIG to win the Purcell Cup Final, Athlone IT beat Trinity College to claim the Fr. Meachair Cup and MIC Thurles won the Ó Maolagáin Cup with victory over Sligo IT.
The 2018 Camogie Association Volunteer & Media Awards also took place in February to honour the contibution of a wide range of volunteers and the media who contribute so greatly to the game and its promotion.  
In March, Slaughtneil claimed the AIB All-Ireland Senior Club Championship title to complete a staggering three-in-a-row with victory over St. Martin's in the Final in Croke Park. On the same day Clonduff won their very first All-Ireland Intermediate Club Championship title as they saw off Gailltír. 
March also saw the Semi-Finals in Division 1 of the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie Leagues take place as Galway and Kilkenny andvanced to the Final with wins over Limerick and Cork respectively. 
The Masita All-Ireland Post-Primary Schools Finals also took place as St. Angela's Ursuline of Waterford claimed the Senior A All-Ireland title.
On the last day of the month Croke Park was the setting for Galway and Kilkenny to do battle in the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie League Division 1 Final as part of a triple-header with the GAA on a momentous day in the home of Gaelic Games. It was the Tribeswomen who prevailed in a breakthrough result for them as they stopped the Cats from claiming four league titles on the bounce as they collected their first League title since 2015 with a two-point victory. It would prove to be the first of three epic tussles between the sides in 2019.
The Association's Annual Congress also took place in April in Ballinasloe, Co. Galway where many motions relating to the Association's official guide were considered. Most significantly a motion to allow Trial Playing Rules to be introduced in future was passed which paved the way for much progress in this area as the year went on.
The AIB Camogie Provincial Players of the Year Awards also took place in April with a team of 15 as well as four provincial award winners acknowledged for their outstanding performances in the 2018/19 season.
April saw Tipperary win Division 2 of the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie Leagues with victory over Kilkenny whilst Kildare beat Limerick to claim the Division 3 honours.
April also saw Cork claim back-to-back All-Ireland Minor A Championship titles with Laois collecting the Minor B title, Tyrone claiming the Minor C title and Down winning the Minor B Shield.
The annual Camán to Croker development event also took place in April as the hallowed turf of Croke Park played host to over 1,200 girls from all over Ireland for an unforgettable experience!
May began with the standout performers in the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie Leagues being honoured for their performances in 2019 at the Player of the League Awards. Galway's Aoife Donohue collected the Division 1 award, Niamh Treacy of Tipperary won the Division 2 award and Limerick's Rebecca Noonan claimed the Division 3 honours.
May also saw Ulster win their Junior Interprovincial title with a victory over Munster in the Final.
June saw the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Championships get underway to set the theme for another fantastic summer as Cork set out to defend their Senior crown with thoughts of a three-in-a-row.
The John West Féile na nGael also took place in June where Cork and Kerry played host to a wonderful weekend of Camogie action for thousands of children from throughout Ireland and abroad.
As the heat of July came around the All-Ireland Championships began to heat up too, and it was the familiar duo of Cork and Kilkenny who topped their respective groups in the Senior Championship to progress directly to the Semi-Finals. It was Galway, Tipperary, Waterford and for the very first time Limerick who qualified for the Quarter-Finals from pulsating groups.
Off the pitch the Association appointed its new Ard Stiúrthóir Sinéad McNulty who joined the Association from her role as Head of Sport with TU Dublin.
Sadly, July also saw the passing of iar-Uachtarán Brídín Uí Mhaloagáin who was synonymous with the game after a lifetime dedicated to its growth as well as many other passions.
The month closed with the Renault GAA World Games took place in Waterford as teams across all of the Gaelic Games codes flocked to Ireland to celebrate all that is wonderful about our games.
August got underway with a bang as the All-Ireland Senior Championship Quarter-Finals took place in Semple Stadium. Tipperary began the day with an impressive win over Limerick to reach back-to-back Semi-Finals, and Galway followed them with a hard-fought but ultimately impressive win over Waterford. Next in wait lay Cork and Kilkenny in the Semi-Finals in the Gaelic Grounds.
The Cats edged Tipperary in a tough encounter where a stunning display by Anne Dalton proved decisive in securing victory. In a heavyweight showdown Galway then put the cat amongst the pigeons as they dethroined reigning champions Cork with a highly impressive display that set the Championship alight. This meant that there would be a new name on the O'Duffy Cup for the first time in three years.
In the Intermediate Championship Semi-Finals Galway saw off Tipperary to join their Senior counterparts whilst Westmeath overcame Down to book their place in a first ever Intermediate Final.
The Premier Junior Semi-Finals completed September's Finals line-up as Kerry beat Clare to book a shot at avenging their 2018 Final defeat, and Limerick joined them with an impressive win over Roscommon.
There were still All-Ireland medals to be won in August as the All-Ireland Under 16 titles were decided. Cork claimed the Under 16A honours, Waterford the Under 16B crown and Roscommon the Under 16C title.
August also saw Galway's Caitríona Daly claim her first All-Ireland Poc Fada crown as she topped the field in the Annaverna Mountains. Galway also claimed the Under 16 title as Katie Gilchrist saw off her rivals to make it a great day for the Westerners.
September saw a thrilling Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Championship culminate with Galway putting in a thrilling Final display to claim the O’Duffy Cup for the third time in their history as they defeated Kilkenny who agonisingly lost a third Final in three years. Niamh Kilkenny put in a performance for the ages and this coupled with a brace of goals from Ailish O'Reilly led the charge for the Westerners who eventually prevailed with a six point margin.
Kerry got the day started with a bang by claiming their first ever Premier Junior title to avenge their Final defeat a year previously with an impressive win over Limerick on what was a great day’s action in front of a record crowd of over 24,730 in Croke Park.
Westmeath then produced a stunning second-half comeback against Galway in the Intermediate Final to claim their first ever Intermediate title and promotion to the Senior Championship in 2020.
October saw the Camogie All-Stars Awards sponsored by Liberty Insurance take place where Senior All-Ireland champions Galway lead the way with seven winners, followed by Kilkenny with four, Waterford with two and Cork and Limerick with one each. Galway's Niamh Kilkenny scooped the Senior Player's Player of the Year Award, with Pamela Greville of Westmeath and Kerry's Patrice Diggin collecting the Intermediate and Junior honours respectively. Galway's Cathal Murray rounded the night off for the All-Ireland champions as he collected his first Manager of the Year Award. 
In November the All-Stars winners of 2018 and 2019 travelled to New York for the Liberty Insurance Camogie All-Stars Tour where they played an exhibition match against each other in the legendary Gaelic Park in the Bronx. The 2019 side prevailed on the day which was the highlight of the tour which also included sightseeing trips to Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, a puck-around in Central Park and a trip to the Irish Consulate in Manhattan.
Kerry's Clanmaurice needed a replay as they claimed a historic first AIB All-Ireland Junior Club Championship title by defeating Raharney of Westmeath whilst it was another maiden title in Junior B Final as na Brídeoga of Mayo beat Denn of Cavan.
In December the year closed out with details announced of the Trial Playing Rules which will be implemented in the 2020 Littlewoods Ireland Camogie League. Several changes will be experimented as the Association looks to ensure that the sport continues to grow and reflect the current demands of the game.
Altogether it was another jam-packed year with much more trojan work being done at grassroots level throughout the country and abroad as well as various other conferences, development initiatives, coaching courses and referee courses to mention just a few areas of work taking place throughout the year!
Attention now turns to 2020 to see who will be writing their own piece of history. It all begins again in January as the AIB All-Ireland Senior and Intermediate Club Championships Semi-Finals get us back underway on Sunday January 26th!
We can't wait!