All Ireland Minor A Camogie final
By Owen Ryan
Clare 0-11 Galway 1-8
While a lot of the play at Nenagh on Saturday was scrappy, the last few minutes were gripping viewing as both sides struggled to find a winner as time ran out.
It was Chloe Morey’s third All Ireland minor final and it would have been cruel if she lost out again, as the Sixmilebridge girl delivered an outstanding, tenacious display.
The game ebbed and flowed throughout the second half with both sides having periods of dominance, but neither made a burst that was sufficient to open a winning gap.
With seven minutes to go a Galway goal left the Connacht side two points ahead, but Clare hauled them in and then overtook them, Morey pointing a free that looked like being decisive as the game spilled into injury time. But Rebecca Hennelly coolly pointed a free moments later, and while there was a dogged struggle in the closing seconds, there would be no more scores.
Clare were first on the board, with livewire Naomi Carroll pointing after five minutes. Carroll looked very threatening throughout, but at times Clare didn’t get the best out of her, as she didn’t receive the supply of ball required to really punish Galway.
While the Banner girls held the initiative for the first seven minutes, they didn’t get any more scores, and two points from placed balls by Tracey Murray put Galway into the lead after 11 minutes.
A few goal chances went a-begging on both sides in the opening period, with Galway keeper Olivia Lane making an outstanding save in the 14th minute.
Sinead Tuohy managed to pierce the rearguard and while she mightn’t have got the power that she would have liked on her strike, it took a fine stop from Lane to prevent the green flag being raised.
Points from Morey and Niamh Corry put Clare back into the lead after 20 minutes, but a point from Maria Breheny and an excellent score from the crafty Aoife Donohue had Galway back in front at half time on a scoreline of 0-4 to 0-3.
At the break it was clear that the game was likely to be in the balance until the end.
While Galway were ahead, their mentors must have been concerned at the frequency with which their forwards were spurning chances, as they had hit seven wides to Clare’s three.
On the resumption Morey was on target again, but Galway then took over for a spell. Clodagh McGrath was on target, while Rebecca Hennelly got another two points, one of them an absolutely excellent score from the sideline.
The momentum was behind Galway, but Clare reacted by making two substitutions and the ship steadied again.
Morey was becoming the game’s dominant figure, and three points from frees had the Banner level again going into the last quarter.
Carroll went on a great solo run through the defence in the 46th minute and drove the ball over the bar without needing to take the ball in hand before striking.
The picture had changed from the opening minutes of the half, and Clare looked set to drive on and take the title, but that wasn’t to be.
A lay off from Shauna Healy found Hennelly in space in the 53rd minute and from distance she drove the ball to Suzie O’Shea’s net. While there was some venom behind the delivery the Clare keeper would have been disappointed to be beaten from the range she was.
It was a big blow to the Banner, but they showed character and responded perfectly, Katie Cahill and Regina O’Brien both pointing in the next three minutes to restore parity.
The title was there to be won and in the 59th minute it looked like Clare had secured it. Maire McGrath made some great dispossessions and clearances in the last few minutes and after she drove the ball up the field it was won by Cahill, who was fouled. Morey stepped up and pointed, and it seemed it would be Clare’s day after all.
But there was another twist. As time ran out, a free was conceded in the Clare full back line, and Rebecca Hennelly tapped it over for a draw.
On the day it was the fairest result, and neither side will feel short-changed this week as they prepare for another crack.
On the day Clare were well served by Maire McGrath towards the end, Chloe Morey, Niamh Corry and Niamh O’Dea.
Galway had good performances from Laura Donnellan, Rebecca Hennelly and Aoife Donohue.