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Report by Joan O’Flynn

Minor A Camogie Championship Final

Historic win for Crom Abu side

Maynooth 2-3 Celbridge 2-2

A late goal by Samantha Ward clinched Maynooth their first Minor A Camogie Championship county title in a tough but enthralling encounter at Eire Og GAA Grounds, Donore last Sunday 30th November 2008

In the first thirty minutes of this game, Celbridge were anchored in the Crom Abu territory. Clare O’Sullivan and Triona Byrne were lording it midfield and there was an excellent supply of ball into the forwards sextet. However,  Maynooth’s defence was stoic and limited space and time on the ball for the hardworking Celbridge forwards, in particular Nicole Wilson, Laurie McDermott and Sinead Halstead.

Aisling O’Halloran broke the stalemate after 18 minutes for Celbridge. Close to the end line and under pressure with her back to the goal, quick thinking, she half turned towards goal and hand passed a lovely ball over the bar. Maynooth’s reply followed shortly when county player Louise Walsh split the posts from 45 metres. 

The final score of this half fell to Sinead Halstead the Celbridge full forward. Having been unlucky with a number of earlier opportunities she was well rewarded when a 45 metre free dropped at the butt of the goalpost and over the line to push her side ahead for the second time.

The Maynooth net minder, Laura Corcoran, was outstanding in this period. She caught, batted out or cleared five excellent Celbridge opportunities and her eye for the ball ensured that, despite Celbridge’s dominance,  only a goal separated the sides at half time.

There was a similar pattern to the play on the re-start though Maynooth were conceding less possession to Celbridge from the throw in. However the Blues were the ones doing most of the attacking. Halstead posed the biggest scoring threat inside and she was well supported by the midfielders Byrne and O’Sullivan and Katie Devine, Therese Lynn and Fiona O’Sullivan in the half back line. Following good approach play by Nicole Wilson and Aisling O’Halloran, Halstead  slotted over a point in the 42nd minute. She followed this shortly after with an excellent goal. Picking up a ball from 25m out, she made some ground with a short solo and then drove an excellent ball past Corcoran. Celbridge were now ahead on 2-2 to Maynooth’s solitary point.

With Emer Connolly. Kate Montgomery and Louise Walsh coming more into the game for Crom Abu, the whole team raised their game for the final 18 minutes. Some excellent long striking from these started to create more Maynooth chances and put a tiring Celbridge side under pressure. Team captain Connolly led from the front and put Maynooth on the come back trail with a goal in the 50th minute. This uplifted the side and when she added a pointed free a little later the prospect of a close finish was starting to seem more likely.

Corcoran in the Maynooth net was again influential at this stage. Two more solid saves from her prevented Celbridge making any headway. Louise Walsh was now operating on the Maynooth 40m line and when she chalked up her second white flag with a lovely long range strike, just two points separated the sides and the clock was running down.

Samantha Ward, playing at corner forward for Crom Abu had the final say in this game. From another attack set up by midfield, she broke free from the attention of the Celbridge defence. From 25m out near the sideline she swept in a high dropping ball that fell behind the faultless Celbridge net minder, young debutant at this level, Sarah McNiff.

Maynooth’s timing was perfect and Ward’s goal resulted in a historic win for them at this level. Anytime a team achieves something for the first time is special and Maynooth’s joy was reward for the significant development at underage camogie over the years. Celbridge too focus on youth development and both sides provided a first class final full of skill, ability, competitiveness and excitement in cold conditions not the most favourable to the sport.

Outgoing Kildare Camogie Board Chairperson, Maynooth man Colm Hoban, happily presented Crom Abu team captain Emer Connolly with the County Championship cup.

Maynooth: Laura Corcoran, Laura Kenny, Laura Tierney, Elaine Kelly, Michelle Doran, Louise Walsh (0-2; 0-1 45m), Claire McNamara, Kate Montgomery, Emer Connolly (capt)(1-1), Roisin Hoban, Michelle O’Connor, Grainne Hoban, Samantha Ward (1-0), Louise Doran, Amy Morrissey. Sub used: Therese Doran for Roisin Hoban.

Celbridge: Sarah McNiff, Sinead McCabe, Sophie O’Donoghue, Catherine Pierce, Katie Devine, Therese Lynn (capt), Fiona O’Sullivan, Clare O’Sullivan, Triona Byrne, Alison McCarthy, Nicole Wilson, Laurie McDermott, Aisling O’Halloran (0-1), Sinead Halstead (2-1), Louise Mannion. Sub used: Dearbhaile McEvoy for Alison McCarthy.

Referee: Tom Gordon (Sallins)

Note: Kildare Camogie Board is reconvening its Annual Convention on Monday 15th December in Sarsfields GAA to elect a Chairperson, Secretary and PRO. All clubs need to consider nominating personnel for these positions. Club secretaries have now received nomination forms and these should be returned to the County Executive a.s.a.p. Each club is requested to send two delegates to the re-convened Convention.

Joan O’Flynn
Tel. 0879051514 (m) or 01 6273059

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