Three Kilkenny schools battle for All-Ireland honours in Royal County
By Michael O’Leary Kilkenny Camogie PRO
Next Saturday is a huge day for Colleges Camogie in Trim Co. Meath.
The All-Ireland Colleges roinn A, B and C finals take place in the Royal county, and in all three finals, Kilkenny schools are represented against Ulster opposition.
The day’s activities begin at 12.30pm when Grennan College(Thomastown) go in search of All-Ireland honours against St. Louis (Ballymena).
At 2pm, Loreto Kilkenny will defend their All-Ireland title against St. Patricks Maghera in a repeat of last years All-Ireland semi-final clash.
The Loreto girls scraped through by a solitary point and another tough battle is expected this time around, and the “”C”” final due to commence will round off the days activitites.
Castlecomer Community School will go for glory against St. Pius Magherafelt.
The Derry town will be attempting an All-Ireland double on the day with St. Pats involved in the A decider.
It should be a fantastic afternoon’s Camogie.
Grennan College will be attempting to land All-Ireland honours for the very first time having contested the Junior and Senior finals over the last two years.
In 2009, they agonisingly lost the All-Ireland “”C”” colleges decider by a single point to St. Colms Draperstown in Rathoath. 1-9 to 0-11.
Last year, they contested the All-Ireland Colleges Junior “”C”” decider against a very skilful Presentation Thurles outfit.
Grennan produced a wonderful comeback in the drawn encounter.
They overturned a 10-point deficit, and inspired almost single-handedly by Inter-County Senior panellist Kelly Hamilton, they managed to snatch a draw despite trailing by points with three minutes remaining.
However, the replay was a different kettle of fish, as the Thurles school ran out comprehensive 23 point winners.
A number of the girls will have had the experience of playing in these finals over the last two years, and that will stand to them ahead of Saturday’s final.
A lot of Grennan hopes will rely on Hamilton who is a supremely skilful talented player, while Megan Farrell, and the Donnelly sisters Niamh and Eimear are other important players for the Grennan school.
Incidentally, Farrell is a survivor from Grennan’s All-Ireland final defeat two years ago, as at the same time, her sisters Shelley and Anna were winning All-Irelands for St. Brigids Callan as they retained their All-Ireland crown.
Grennan played Presentation Kilkenny in the Leinster decider on Saturday 5th February in conditions more suitable to Water Polo on a horrible wet day.
Grennan drew their All-Ireland semi-final clash with Hazelwood College, Drumcollogher 1-4 to 0-7 in as low scoring encounter, before they turned the tables in emphatic style winning the replay 2-11 to 1-4.
On this evidence, they’ll take the world of stopping in the All-Ireland decider.
The Ballymena School recorded a hard earned 1-9 to 1-8 victory over St. Marys Mallow in their semi-final, and they must be respected.
They were very impressive in the Ulster final scoring 6-9.
Anna Kelly scored 3-1, while Kiara Duffin accounted for 2-2.
Centre-forward and team captain Aimee McAtamney, and Chloe Bartley also made a major impression.
Loreto will attempt to defend their All-Ireland title against St. Pats Maghera in a repeat of last years All-Ireland semi-final clash.
The City school only scraped through by a solitary point in Northern Ireland last year and they can expect a stiff challenge provided to them once again.
Loreto have enjoyed unprecedented success over the last 4 years since winning their first All-Ireland college’s junior title in the Ragg in 2007.
They added further junior All-Ireland titles in 2009 and 2010, and in the 2009 decider, they defeated the Maghera school 2-6 to 0-9 captained by Grace Walsh.
This Loreto team knows how to win having achieved All-Ireland Junior colleges success plus 7-a-side All-Irelands.
Six of the likely starting this Saturday started last years All-Ireland final victory, so they have the experience of been involved.
They have cruised through into the decider, inspired by the immaculate Grace Walsh at centre-back.
They easily defeated St. Brigids Callan 1-16 to 0-6 in the Leinster final, before coming through safely against St. Brigids Loughrea in the All-Ireland semi-final where goals from frees by Claire Phelan and Niamh Byrne laid the foundations for victory.
A late goal from the Loughrea only served to put a better reflection on the scoreboard.
This Loreto team is equally as strong if not stronger than last year.
Their defensive unit has been very solid in their two games to date.
The midfield pairing of team captain Niamh Byrne and her clubmate Aisling Curtis provides plenty of graft, while the attacking division poses at potent threat despite not having all clicked together so far.
Claire Phelan at centre-forward is a very talented player who recently made her inter-county senior debut, while Sarah-Anne Quinlan, Emma Comerford, Lydia Fitzpatrick, Orla Hanrick at the opportunism of Aoife Murphy have the potential to be matchwinners.
However, the player that epitomises the spirit of Loreto is Aoife Nolan.
Not the most naturally gifted of players, Nolan is a workaholic who will rove all over the field. She was goalscorer in last years final.
St. Pats overcame Presentation Thurles in their semi-final. 1-11 to 3-4.
They have had tough encounters with Loreto over the last two years at Junior and Senior level.
Most of the players will be familiar with one another. This contest promises to go right down to the wire.
The “”C”” final rounds off the afternoon as Castlecomer Community School go in search of their very first All-Ireland.
The Comer school came through their semi-final with slender 1-4 to 0-6 victory over St. Dominics Cabra of Dublin and they can expect another tough challenge in the final.
St. Pius defeated Laurel Hill (Limerick) in their semi-final clash, 2-9 to 2-6, so they’ll provide stern opposition.
It should be a fascinating afternoon’s action of camogie.
It’s only €5 for adults to attend three All-Ireland finals. That is fantastic value in this current climate, and just €2 for students/oaps.
There is plenty of car parking spaces available in Trim.
The possibility of a Kilkenny All-Ireland hat-trick waits.