by Joan O’Flynn, Kildare County PRO
Meath 1-7 Kildare 0-8
A last minute goal from Meath midefielder Margaretta Stephens was enough to overcome Kildare in this third round of the Gala All Ireland Camogie Championship in Clane last Saturday night (26th July). This victory puts the Royals into the All Ireland semi final while the Lilywhites now face Roscommon in a play off for the second semi final spot.
This was the third time these sides have met this year and Meath, as League champions, were certain favourties to come out on top. However, the progress of this developing and improving Kildare side can be measured over the season by comparing the absolute troucing the Royals gave Kildare earlier in the year to the narrow margin of their victory on this occasion.
Throughout this championship Kildare have introduced several new players and once again this was the case last Saturday. The absence of a number of regulars meant that Johnstownbridge’s Roisin O’Connell got the chance to give a competent display in the Kildare goals while Leixlip’s Emer Fallon and Clane’s Melissa Lyons also got a run out. Meanwhile, Lorraine Bowes from St. Laurence’s played her first championship game of the season.
After the first thirty minues of action, Regina Gorman’s 26th minute point separated the sides. Kildare were ahead by the narrowest of margins on a score line of 0-4 to 0-3. The homeside were outplaying Meath for several spells but the Meath backline, led by team captain Aileen Donnelly, were always difficult to break down. On the scoring front, Meath’s Jane Dolan and Kildare’s Susie O’Carroll cancelled out each others efforts and both registered two points from play and a pointed free.
On the re-start Donnelly and O’Carroll exchanged pointed frees and then Meath dominanted for a period. Three unanswered points put them in the lead 0-7 to 0-5. Lizzie Lynch’s white flag on the 40th minute levelled the game. Royals full forward Jane Dolan, who performed strongly throughout, gave them the lead when, following a great solo run, she put the ball between the uprights. Aileen Donnelly pointed a free but she might also have had a goal previous to this when a very long range free hopped chest high in the square and bobbled out harmlessly wide.
Kildare were fighting a rearguard action for this period. The midfield duo of Siobhan Hurley and Orla Bambury and the entire half backline of Lorraine Bowes, Melanie Treacy and Hazel Mulligan were working tirelessly. Treacy, in particular, once again showed outstanding leadership in defence and her capacity to read the ball and the play meant she was often in the right place at the right time to put in a relieving clearance.
Eventaully, Kildare got their reward when the ever-present Hurley was well-rewarded with a point. Caroline Forde’s superb effort shortly effort brought Kildare back on level terms. The match tension was heightened now as both teams sought to push home. Jane Dolan was a constant threat for Meath on the Kildare goal and O’Carroll and Clodagh Farrell were combining well up front for the Lillies.
In the 57th minute Kildare won a 45m ball and O’Carroll calmly nosed Kildare into the lead with a wonderful point. At this stage, Kildare could not have been faulted for thinking they had done enough to secure their semi-final spot. However Meath always play to the final whistle and a low ball 20m from out found its way through a few Kildare defenders’ legs into the corner of the net, reversing the lead and ensuring Meath of their place.
Kildare now re-group for the play off. Based on the hard work, commitment, spirit and the ongoing development of this side they can face Roscommon with more than hope when they cross hurleys next weekend.
Kildare: Roisin O’Connell, Niamh Breen, Lizzie Finnegan, Aoife Trant, Lorraine Bowes, Melanie Treacy, Hazel Mullivan, Caroline Forde (0-1), Siobhan Hurley (0-1), Clodagh Farrell, Regina Gorman (0-1), Orla Bambury, Susan O’Carroll (0-5′ -1 45m; -2f), Clare Doran (Captain), Reiltin Treacy. Subs used: Emer Fallon for Reiltin Treacy. Melissa Lyons for Clare Doran.
Meath: Emily Manan, Emma McNally, Karen Ward, Holly Geraghty, Edel Guy, Aileeen Donnelly (0-2f) (captain), Louise Donahue, Margaretta Stephens (1-0), Laura Flynn, Frances Lynch, Elizabeth Oakes, Sinead Hackett, Elizabeth Lynch (0-1), Jane Dolan (0-4 -1f), Stephanie Horan. Subs used: Kristina Troy for Sinead Hackett. Aine Keogh for Elizabeth Lynch. Katie Ni Choileain for Elizabeth Oakes.
Referee: Morgan Conroy (Waterford)