Kildare 3-4 Carlow 1-2
Kildare won its first minor title in any competition when the Lilywhites took the honours in the inaugural All Ireland Minor Camogie Blitz played in Aughrim, last Saturday 5th July.
The victory was inspired by a great scoring performance from 15 year old Cliodhna Mc Sweeney, inspirational leadership by team captain Clodagh Farrell and the determination and skill of the twenty four players in the squad who participated in the various rounds of the Blitz, all played on the same day.
To reach the final, Kildare overcame Carlow in the first round, played mid-morning. While Kildare finished comfortably on a scoreline of 2-6 to 0-5 this was a tough game. The tenacity of Sophie O’ Donoghue, Louise Walsh and Fiona Trant and goals by Melissa Lyons and Samantha Ward were crucial in gaining the result.
With a short break, home side Wicklow were next on the horizon for Kildare. The Garden County girls are trained by St. Laurence’s stalwart and Wicklow native, Liz O’Donoghue. This was a very competitive and exciting game in which Kildare had to dig deep for a result. Net minder Tanya Johnson and defenders including Miriam Murphy, Fiona O’Sullivan, Niamh Boland and Therese Lynn had plenty to do in the backline to keep Wicklow at bay, particularly in the second half when they pressed strongest. Clodagh Farrell, Laurie McDermott and Noeleen Fleming all raised green flags during this game but points win games. One white flag separated the sides at the end. Kildare escaped on a scoreline of 3-5 to 3-4 and this was enough to put them in the final.
The final was a replay of Kildare’s opening round of the Blitz as near neighbours Carlow had come through. Since that game, the playing conditions had seriously deteriorated and by the time the final came round, players had to cope with both tired limbs and wintry conditions.
On the throw in, heavy rain and a ferocious wind
Carlow, with the wind behind them, opened strongest with an early goal from midfielder Margret Murphy. A Carlow point followed shortly after when Ciara Quirke won a Kildare puck out. She waltzed through the Kildare defence and made no mistake in driving it between the uprights.
Kildare were struggling to win and hold possession until Cliodhna McSweeney, playing at half forward, slotted over the Lilywhite’s opening score. Clodagh Farrell was now making a strong impression at midfield, ably supported by Derbhaile Kelly from centre forward. Farrell, ball on hurley, went on a characteristic solo run, found McSweeney inside who drove the ball to the back of the net. Kildare were back on level terms. Tanya Johnson put up a sterling performance in goal and with all six defenders working hard, Carlow were restricted to a pointed free from Theresa Ralph to leave them a nose ahead at half time on a scoreline of 1-2 to 1-1.
With the wind now behind them, Kildare attacked Carlow on the re-start and McSweeney evened the scores with a pointed free. She followed this with a long range speculative shot that found its way over the goal line. This gave the Lilywhites the lead for the first time in the game and they held this to the final whistle. Kildare extended their lead when McSweeney’s Naas clubmate, Noeleen Fleming, got her name on the scoresheet with a lovely point from the wing.
But Kildare and McSweeney weren’t finished yet. With Kildare dominating the central positions from full back to full forward a more plentiful supply of ball was finding its way close to the Carlow goal. Louise Walsh, team captain Farrell and Clare O’Sullivan were prominent at this stage for the Lillies while Michelle Kelly, Marie Kehoe, Margaret Murphy and Niamh Quirke caught the eye for Carlow. However, with McSweeney’s skilful freetaking style and her kamikaze eye for goal a further 1-1 ensured that Kildare’s name is first on the shiny new All Ireland Minor Blitz Cup.
Clodagh Farrell accepted the cup from Uachtaran Cumann Camogaiochta na nGael, Liz Howard. Kildare’s day was complete when McSweeney was awarded the Player of the Final trophy also presented by Liz Howard.
The Kildare squad featured players from nine clubs. All contributed to the victory by participation in the qualifying rounds and in the final. The team was managed by Niamh Concannon (Celbridge) and Nora Fleming (Naas).
The victorious Lilywhites squad was:
Tanya Johnson, Fiona O’Sullivan, Miriam Murphy, Sophie O’Donoghue, Niamh Boland, Louise Walsh, Therese Lynn, Clare O’Sullivan, Fiona Trant, Melissa Lyons, Clodagh Farrell, Noeleen Fleming, Cliodhna McSweeney, Emer Connolly, Emma Farrell, Samantha Ward Sinead Halstead, Laurie McDermott, Laura Sheehan, Roisin Mellet, Alison Hyland, Aoife Mangan, Laura Tierney, Derbhaile Kelly, Grainne Gaffney.
** Kildare’s camogie players are on inter-county duty again next Saturday 12th July when they face Roscommon in the second round of the Gala All Ireland Junior Championship (Nancy Murray Cup). Check clubs for venue details**
-Joan O’Flynn, Kildare PRO