Armagh Senior Camogie Team played neighbours Tyrone in the All Ireland semi final of the Nancy Murray Cup in Casement on Saturday evening. On the previous meeting earlier in the season the Red Hand camogs came out on top by a goal. Benny Brunton Tyrone’s manager was in a difficult situation with divided loyalties as wife to be Laura Gribben was playing centre half back for Armagh.
Paula Mallon’s point cushioned Armagh‘s anxieties in the opening minutes. The Orchard calini were aware from their own experiences this season of playing for only one half and loosing games that should have been won that they must perform for the full sixty minutes to ensure victory. Shauna Jordaon converted a free for Tyrone quickly followed by a classic point from a sole performance by Emma McAlister.
It was a close encounter with both teams rallying the sliothar from end to end. Tyrone held tight reins on Cullyhanna’s Bernie Murray and double marked Colette McSorley. Laura Gribben was outstanding at centre back and up front Ulster College‘s Camogie All Star Ciara Donnelly and club mate Grainne Kelly constantly pressurised the Tyrone defence. Grainne Kelly broke free and collected a high pass form Colette McSorley to equalise for Armagh. Then the inevitable to the disbelief of Tyrone a sliothar well cleared by the goalkeeper was capitalised on by sharp shooter McSorley and hammered to the back of the net.
Tyrone quickly regrouped and applied severe pressure on the Orchard defence. Emma McAlister wearing Number 13 was superb and notched up two long range points to narrow the margin to a point. Armagh were up for a challenge and no player was giving anything away easily. Ciara Donnelly sent over a well worked point for Armagh. He Red Hands made no mistake from the puck out and Meave McGurk scored another point to leave a Tyrone in arrears of a point on the half time whistle. Half time scores Armagh 1 – 3 Tyrone 0 – 5.
Young Ciara Donnelly’s confidence was excelling and a heroic performance resulted in a long range point the score of the game. Camogie in the Orchard was ripening again. A fabulous high sideline cut on the forty five by Niamh McGeown was taken out of the sky by Colette McSorley on the edge of the square. The strong, resilient, skilful McSorley turned and sent the sliothar low and hard to the right hand corner of the net.
The clash of the ash rang in the surrounding hills hanging over Casement. The commitment, dedication, skill and passion for camogie were evident on the displays of individual and teamwork from both counties on the pitch. Points from frees were exchanged by Shauna Jordon Tyrone and Colette McSorley Armagh. The sliothar intertwined between the players the length and width of Casement Park. Mid way through the second half the small handfuls of supporters were on the edges of their seats as the gallant camogs from Armagh and Tyrone served up entertaining camogie.
Goals were exchanged by Colette McSorley for Armagh and Emma McAlister Tyrone. Maria Jordon added another point on the board for Tyrone. Critical times for Armagh as their neighbours were fiercely pressurising. Memories of the previous encounter painfully evident were Tyrone’s dominated the final ten minutes and won that encounter. Colleen Comiskey was outstanding in nets well supported by the defence in particular Laura Gribben and Emma Farrell. Bernie Murray and Niamh McGeown were winning the battle at midfield. Andrea McAlinden, Ciara Donnelly and Cathy Smith provided supply sliothar to the full forward line. Colette McSorley and Shauna Jordon converted frees. Julie Lagan Captain of the Tyrone team led by example with a point rendering the deficit to a goal and uncomfortable for Armagh. Both teams persisted and pressurised in the final minutes. A point from Granemore’s Cathy Smith eased the tensions for Armagh. Final score Armagh 3 – 8 Tyrone 1 – 10.
A relieved Armagh now look forward to meeting Roscommon on Saturday 22nd August in the All Ireland Nancy Murray Cup Final. Disappointment for a gallant Tyrone and manager Benny Brunton. There was no love lost in Casement but Benny’s interests now will lie with Armagh supporting fiancÚ Laura Gribben.
Armagh Team Colleen Comiskey Keady, Caiomhe McKenna Derrynoose, Ann McGuigan Middletown, Patrice Murphy Keady, Emma Farrell Derrynoose, Laura Gribben Ballymacnab, Michaela King Ballymacnab, Bernie Murray Cullyhanna, Niamh McGeown Derrymacash, Ciara Donnelly Granemore (0-2), Grainne Kelly Granemore (0-1), Joanne Mallon Captain Middletown, Paula Mallon Middletown (0-1), Colette McSorley Tullysarron (3-3), Andrea McAlinden Derrymacash, Cathy Smith Granemore (0-1), Bronagh Keenan Granemore, Colleen O’Hare Granemore, Carla Mullen St. Brigid’s, Grace Donaghy St. Brigid’s, Aoibheann Donaldson Crossmaglen, Nicola McGeown Ballymacnab, Geraldine Curry Tullysarron.