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Kildare Camogie League Finals

In 2008, the Kildare Camogie Board introduced a Shield Final to all leagues. This initiative culminated in a ægame-fest’ in Naas last Saturday 19th July, where Shield titles at Junior, Intermediate and Senior levels were decided. The day’s showpiece though was the Senior League Cup Final when Celbridge successfully the title they won last year for the first time.

Senior League Cup:

Celbridge 3-9 St. Laurence’s 3-4

When camogie history in Kildare is spoken of in the future, the first decade of the 21st century will be notable for the rich rivalry between two clubs north and south of the county. One club is predominantly rurally based, the other suburban-based; one club has an enviable record of senior success, the other continues to be the main challenger to this long-held dominance in Kildare camogie.
These characteristics distinguish, for sure, the two clubs St. Laurence’s and Celbridge.  However, once the sliothar is thrown in and players are shoulder to shoulder on the pitch, they share in common a fantastic capacity to produce an exciting and competitive brand of camogie that entertains and compels anyone fortunate enough to be a spectator.
Last week’s Senior League Final was another instalment in the saga that continues to unfold between these two sides. Midway through the second half, Celbridge were coasting with a ten point lead. Characteristically, St. Laurence’s never-say-die attitude drove them to the final whistle, at which stage they had reduced the deficit to five points. This left Celbridge, somewhat relieved, but with a comfortable enough margin to retain their title as county league champions.
Even though St. Laurence’s were without first team regulars such as Paula and Louise Keatley, Ruth Treacy and Carol Nolan, the experience of the three Treacys in defence, Roxanne, Reiltin and Melanie, combined with midfielder Ciara Tallon and Lorraine Bowes and Laura Dunne played strongly from the outset. Within five minutes, Dunne had got the opening score of the game when she goaled a long range free from Melanie Treacy. The Larries forced Celbridge to wait ten minutes for their first score. Centre forward Angela Lyons gratefully returned a short puckout from the Laurence’s goalkeeper Liz O’Donoghue-Byrne with a 40m ball between the uprights. 
For much of the remainder of the first half, there was little between the sides. Defences were on top; the ball rarely breached the 40m line in both camps and scores were scarce. By the 22nd minute both sides had pointed a free each and St. Laurence’s held their lead on a scoreline of 1-1 to 0-2. 
In the last period of the half, Celbridge started to find some rhythm and put together good passing movements with Deirdre Corcoran, Triona Byrne and Aisling Maher often finding a player in a good forward position.  A Corcoran ball to Susie O’Carroll in the 24th minute reduced Celbridge’s deficit to a point. Shortly after, another ball from the Celbridge half back line fell nicely to the oncoming corner forward in blue, Sinead Halstead. Her high dropping ball, from 25m out, found its way to the back of the net giving Celbridge the lead for the first time. A pointed 45 from O’Carroll put the northern Kildare side further ahead on the stroke of half time.
Celbridge started the second half with a blistering fifteen minutes. They raced ahead to a ten point lead and added 2-4 to their first half score of 1-4. Within seconds of the re-start a super cross-field ball from Ashling Maher found Susie O’Carroll. Her shot on goal was blocked and Maher’s younger sister, Orla, was in the right position to connect with the rebound and send it to the back of the net. O’Carroll wasted no time in adding a point when she picked up another short puckout.
Lorraine Bowes and O’Carroll exchanged pointed frees and Ciara Tallon added a further point for Laurence’s but Celbridge were dominating at this stage. Deirdre Corcoran and Angela Lyons were influential in this phase of play.  The latter had settled into the game much more – roving between centre field and centre forward. Celbridge were now stronger in the tackle and combining well to ensure a supply of ball to the forwards. This pressure on the Laurence’s backs paid off when a ball broke on the edge of the square to O’Carroll. Off her left and from the narrowest of angles she drove a low ball into the corner of the net for Celbridge’s third goal. A further point meant Celbridge were now ten points up and it was hard to see a way back for for St. Laurence’s.
However, in the next twelve to fifteen minutes, both sides added new depths to their game. Laurence’s were not about the leave a county title behind them without a fight and Celbridge were not easily conceding a deserved lead at this stage of the game. A deflected goal gave the Larries a bit of breathing space but a 13m point free again from O’Carroll protected Celbridge’s advantage.  Niamh Breen, midfielders Talllon and Cliodhna Kelly, sub Pamela Donovan and Lorraine Bowes were all driving Laurence’s on but their efforts were not making any difference to the scoreboard. Direct clearances from the Celbridge backs, particularly Corcoran, and good work by Lorraine McIntyre, Therese Lynn, Niamh Concannon and Aoife Murtagh were effective  in protecting the Celbridge goal and both sides were confined to an exchange of points from Bowes and O’Carroll.
The final drama of the game came in the last few minutes. A long range Melanie Treacy free was fumbled in the Celbridge goal and the ball dribbled over the line to reduce the deficit to five points. This goal was then shortly followed by a close in free following a Celbridge foul on Lorraine Bowes. St. Laurence’s had to go for the goal but the Celbridge keeper, Fiona Lanigan, made enough contact and the ball fell to Deirdre Corcoran, who drove it to safety 40m down the field. Seconds after, referee Alan Lagrue, brought the contest to a close and Celbridge captain, Susie O’Carroll, happily received the League Cup.

Celbridge: Fiona Lanigan, Lorraine McIntyre, Niamh Concannon, Aoife Murtagh, Therese Lynn, Deirdre Corcoran, Triona Byrne, Ashling Maher, Clare O’Sullivan, Hannah McDonnell, Angela Lyons (0-1), Orlaith Maher (1-0), Sinead Halstead (1-0), Susie O’Carroll (capt)(1-8; 0-1 45m; 0-3f), Aoife Magee. Subs used: Kate Murtagh for Clare O’Sullivan, Fiona O’Sullivan for Hannah McDonnell, Martina O’Toole for Aoife Murtagh, Laurie McDermott for Sinead Halstead.

St. Laurence’s: Liz O’Donoghue-Byrne, Annie Kearney, Roxanne Treacy, Maria McCabe, Reiltin Treacy, Melanie Treacy (1-0), Niamh Breen, Ciara Tallon (0-1), Cliodhna Kelly, Lorraine Bowes (0-3; 0-2f), Lydia Byrne, Amanda Fulham, Edel Kearney, Laura Dunne (1-0), Maria McNaughton. Subs used: Emma Dunne for Edel Kearney, Pamela Donovan for Maria McNaughton.
Referee: Alan Lagrue (Naas)

Senior Shield:

Johnstownbridge 1-12 Cappagh 2-5

Johnstownbridge collected their first ever senior title when they came out the right side of a lively contest with north Kildare neighbours Cappagh in the Senior Shield.
The first half for was tit-for-tat with neither side able to dominate, either in play or on the scoreboard. County stars Caroline Forde, Regina Gorman and Clare Doran were prominent for Cappagh and at half time, the teams were level on a scoreline of 1-3 to Cappagh and 0-6 for Johnstownbridge. Forde got her side’s goal in the first 30 minutes and all Cappagh’s points came from Regina Gorman’s hurley – two from 45s and one pointed free. Johnstownbridge’s scoring was more evenly distributed with four forwards registering white flags in the first half. Ciara Mooney got her sides opening two scores. County half forward Siobhan Hurley added two pointed frees while Roisin O’Connell got Johnstownbridge’s fifth.  Clodagh Flanagan, just returned to camogie action after a year-long break demonstrated that she had not lost her scoring touch with the final point for the æBridge in the first half.
On the re-start Johnstownbridge’s forwards and in particular, Ciara Mooney were much more prolific. Mooney’s increased her tally by 1-3 while O’Connell add two further white flags and Hurley a pointed free. Cappagh’s forwards were restricted to a single goal from play by Kathleen Daly. Their remaining scores from were pointed frees from county team captain Clare Doran and from Regina Gorman.

Both teams can be satisfied with the league runs and can look forward to the senior championship due to commence in August. For Johnstownbridge, the Shield Title is a measure of their progression in this grade, having stepped up from Intermediate two years ago. Ciara Mooney’s red hot scoring form and Clodagh Flanagan’s return will strengthen their championship ambitions while Shona Farrell and Sarah Gormley on her senior goalkeeping debut also impressed.
Cappagh are putting in a serious effort at re-building this year. With the excellent form of Caroline Forde for club and county, the ability of dual star Hazel Mulligan, the leadership of Clare Doran and Regina Gorman’s experience they will give any senior team a contest over the next couple of months.
Johnstownbridge scorers: Ciara Mooney (1-5) Roisin O’Connell (0-3), Siobhan Hurley (0-3), Clodagh Flanagan (0-1)
Cappagh scorers: Regina Gorman (0-4), Clare Doran (0-1), Caroline Forde (1-0), Kathleen Daly (1-0)
Referee: Seamie Doyel (Castledermot)

Intermediate Shield:

Leixlip 2-9 Rathcoffey 1-2

In the Intermediate contest, two young sides from Leixlip and Rathcoffey produced a very competitive first 30 mins with Leixlip just having the better of exchanges at half time on a scoreline of 0-4 to 1-0. However the ball skills of Sinead McHugh, Emer Fallon, Rachel Divilly and Clodagh Farrell dominated the second half.  Their movement and firepower was too much for a tenacious Rathcoffey fifteen. Tanya Johnson, Jean Healy, Leanne Reilly, Sarah McCabe and Gillian Johnson were tireless in their efforts to keep the town side at bay. However, goals from Clodagh Farrell and Niamh Leahy put Leixlip in the comfort zone and they ran out winners 2-9 to 1-2 to collect their first title at Intermediate level.
Leixlip scorers: Sinead McHugh (0-1) Rachel Divilly (0-1) Maria Divilly (0-1) Meadhb Leahy (0-1) Niamh Leahy (1-0) Clodagh Farrell (1-5)
Rathcoffey scorers: Nicola Egan (1-0) Tanya Johnson (0-2)
Referee: Timmy O’Sullivan (Celbridge)

Junior Shield:

Clane 2-5 Broadford 0-4

Clane, fielding their second team, picked up the Junior Shield title when scores from Melissa Lyons (1-2), Dee Grace (1-0), Danielle Redmond (0-1) and Shone Nolan (0-2) got the better of a Broadford side for whom ex-county star Bernie Kennedy  (0-4) was the main scorer.

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