In a deliberate effort to increase competitive games at adult level, the Kildare Camogie Board re-structured the county leagues this year. Separate gradings were introduced for championship and league competitions. This resulted in several teams who will compete at Intermediate level in the championship taking on the big guns in the Senior League. Similar, junior championship teams have had the opportunity to test themselves against Intermediate teams in the league competition.
Margaret Sexton, the Nurney club woman and County Board Vice-Chair overseeing the fixtures administration is delighted with the impact of the new league formats. She said, æthis year so far we have played forty league games at Senior and Intermediate level. This is at least a five-fold increase on previous years. The clubs stepping up a standard have responded really well and are enjoying the experience. The new format has meant that there has been an increase in opportunities to play regular competitive camogie and this is really important for promoting the sport’.
All leagues have a number of rounds to play before the finals scheduled for mid July. At this stage, St. Laurence’s lead the Senior League with Johnstownbridge and Celbridge in the chasing pack. Newcomers Maynooth and Cappagh follow on with Clane having some ground to make up. South County women are also heading up the Intermediate League table. Newcomers, Athy, in their first year at this level, top the table after five rounds. Sarsfields follow closely behind and Leixlip, Moorefield and Naas are all tied on the same points mid-table.
Five clubs are contesting the Junior League with Maynooth and Clane fielding their second teams in this competition. Kill lead this group and the chasing pack of Maynooth, Clane and Broadford are all in with a shout for the final on 21st June.
At underage levels, the honours in the under 16 league championship and the under 14 Feile have already been decided. Naas and Kill took the laurels in Division 1 and 2 at under 16 level while Celbridge represent Kildare in the Division 3 All Ireland Feile competition in Laois/Offaly at the end of June.
On the inter county front, the Lilywhite colours will adorn the London GAA grounds at Ruislip on June 28th in the opening round of the Division 4 All Ireland championship series. Leinster had a real grip on this competition last year with Laois getting the better of Meath in the final. Laois got promoted on the back of this win and Meath progressed to claim the Division 4 National League title a couple of weeks ago. Most days, little separates Meath and Kildare on the camogie field. Over the past two years, the pendulum has swung the favour of the Meath women. New manager John Davis has introduced a different camogie style that is about direct play combined with early release of the ball. This has made Meath a stronger outfit but if Kildare realise their playing potential they could go some way in this competition.
The Lilywhites’ talent includes Susie O’Carroll, who has already collected an All-Ireland Third Level Colleges’ medal this year when she captained UCD to the Ashbourne Cup. Cappagh’s Caroline Forde is enjoying a great season and lined out with Leinster last week in the Gael Linn Inter-Provincials. Her club mate Clare Doran has also been a good addition to the Kildare panel this year. Lizzie Finnegan, Clodagh Farrell, Emer and Siobhan Hurley and Louise Walsh will all have benefited from their National League experiences. Players more seasoned at inter county level such as Carol Nolan, Paula Keatley, Mel and Reiltin Treacy, Orla Bambury, Niamh Concannon, Regina Gorman, Hazel Mulligan, the anticipated return of Clodagh Flanagan and others combine with the younger talent to give team trainer Karen Kelly and team manager Colm Hoban plenty to work with. The first hurdle is the exiles on 28th June followed by Roscommon on the 12th July and the Royals on the 26th July.
Kildare Camogie PRO