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‘Boro end Sarsfields reign and Noreside famine after cracker

Sun 17th Dec

Daragh Ó Conchúir


By Daragh Ó Conchúir, at Croke Park
Dicksboro (Kilkenny) 0-18
Sarsfields (Galway) 1-11
A master class of shooting by Aoife Prendergast and a brilliant all-round team display that included some monumental contributions by the likes of Jane Cass, Katie Byrne, Amy Clifford, Asha McHardy and Lucinda Gahan were just some of the reasons Dicksboro secured a first AIB All-Ireland senior club camogie title at Croke Park.

In the process, they ended Sarsfields three-in-a-row dream but there was no arguing with the result, as the champions struggled to cope with the ‘Boro’s energy and apart from the third quarter, were not able to impose themselves in the way they have been accustomed to through their all-conquering reign.

The unavailability of inspirational skipper and midfielder, Niamh McGrath was certainly a factor and it was interesting that Sarsfields introduced their only sub, Cora Kenny, in the 59th minute, whereas the ‘Boro got a significant impact from their bench, especially in the case of former Kilkenny All-Ireland-winning captain Gahan, who was returning to the fray seven months after giving birth and having broken her hand in the meantime and made some huge plays.

Prendergast is the Cats’ most recent successful skipper, having lifted the O’Duffy Cup last year, and her accuracy was pivotal, a tally of nine points built from all manners of distances and angles, the majority from frees but plenty of those testing, with two excellent scores also from play.

In total however, Donal Carroll’s team had eight individual scorers and they were worthy victors at the end of a pulsating game that was of a quality fitting for the prize on offer, played in excellent conditions and refereed superbly by Ray Kelly.

Dicksboro settled very well, despite this being their first appearance at this level. Indeed, quite remarkably, it was a first time since St Lachtain’s completed the three-in-a-row in 2006 that a Kilkenny side had qualified for the decider.

A one point advantage was probably a little scant for how they played in the first half, though they did actually fall behind to a 25th minute goal from Siobhán McGrath – who invariably rattles the net in All-Ireland finals for club and county. They responded well with points from McHardy and Orla Hanrick to go in at the break, 0-10 to 1-6 in front.

Prendergast, captain Jenny Clifford, Aobha O’Gorman and Rachel Dowling had all pointed as they established a 0-8 to 0-5 lead 20 minutes in, with Sarsfields reliant on frees from Caoimhe Kelly and McGrath. McGrath punished a foul on herself to make it a two-point game before sister Orlaith got free for one of the few times in the game, careered through the middle in trademark fashion to set up the goal chance, the finish a classy one delivered with the calmness of someone mucking around on the playground.

One imagines the McGraths’ father, Sarsfields manager Michael McGrath launched a few rockets at the interval and the girls in green certainly meant business after the restart.

Siobhan followed a delightful jink with a neat finish for a point and though Prendergast replied, after a wonderful display of power and pace from McHardy drew the defensive cover, the Galwegians struck the next three scores, Siobhan McGrath with a fantastic point followed by two more excellent efforts by Shannon Corcoran and Sarah Spellman.

The latter point arrived in the 43rd minute and it would be Sarsfields’ last score until Klara Donohue drove over in the fourth minute of injury time.

The key for Dicksboro was that they hung in through the whirlwind that threated to overcome them and then, gradually, clawed their way to parity before re-asserting their dominance.

Prendergast stopped the rot from a free in the 48th minute. That was the start of a run of seven straight points that ultimately secured the Bill and Agnes O’Carroll Cup.

Ciara O’Shea hit the leveller and then it was Prendergast and Amy Clifford doing the damage, as Dicksboro began to come out of more rucks in possession, pin Sarsfields back and create more situations that ended with players in space. They would have been even further ahead had they not dropped three balls into Sars ‘keeper Laura Glynn’s hands from distance, when there was a lot of turf as well as supporting runners available.

Such was their control that it wasn’t to matter in the end, though the titleholders went out on their shields, and Kirsty Maher had to dive full length to deny Maria Cooney a goal from a 20m free after Donohue’s point. That was the game’s last act though, and for Dicksboro, the celebrations could begin.

SCORERS FOR DICKSBORO: A Prendergast 0-9(7fs); J Clifford, A Clifford 0-2 each; A O’Gorman, A McHardy, R Dowling, O Hanrick, C O’Shea 0-1 each

SCORERS FOR SARSFIELDS: S McGrath 1-4(0-2fs); C Kelly 0-2fs; O McGrath, R Murray, S Spellman, S Corcoran, K Donohue 0-1 each

DICKSBORO: K Maher, T Clifford, J Cass, K Byrne, N Phelan, C Dowling, C Phelan, C O’Shea, A O’Gorman, A McHardy, A Clifford, R Dowling, A Prendergast, O Hanrick, J Clifford. Sub: L Gahan for R Dowling (45), R Kelly for Hanrick (55), N O’Donoghue for O’Shea (60+4), T McGrath for A Clifford (60+4)

SARSFIELDS: L Glynn, R Kelly, L Ward, K Gallagher, T Kenny, M Cooney, J Daly, C McGrath, S Spellman, K Donohue, O McGrath, R Murray, S Corcoran, S McGrath, C Kelly. Sub: C Kenny for C Kelly (59)

REFEREE: Ray Kelly (Kildare)


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