Twenty one scores, including eight goals, on a day when sleet, wind and temperatures of 4 degrees in Johnstownbridge contrived against sport was a great return for the endeavour and honesty of Kildare and Roscommon in this third round National Camogie League game. Both teams provided an entertaining contest in which the lead changed hands several points.
After a dismal result against Meath the previous week, Kildare were looking for an improved performance that better reflected their ability and talent. This was evident in the first fourteen minutes of the game when they dominated Roscommon, held them scoreless and also nosed 1-3 ahead. Susie O’Carroll, lining out at full forward, opened the scoring with a pointed free in the third minute. Shortly after, Roscommon conceded another free when Reiltin Treacy was fouled. O’Carroll stepped up again and this time audaciously drove the ball to the back of the net. Excellent play from the Kildare half forward line of Clodagh Farrell, Orla Bambury and Clare Doran kept the Roscommon backs under pressure. This generated another pointed free from O’Carroll and another white flag by her from play.
By this stage, Kildare were faultless but the flight of a long high ball outfield seemed to deceive the Kildare goalie Lizzie Finnegan and it drifted in overhead for Roscommon’s opening score. They quickly added a second goal when Rachel Fallon cleanly caught an overhead ball from Annette McGeeney, easily turned the Kildare back and gave Finnegan no chance. Two strikes, two goals and Roscommon had equalised by the 20th minute.
The next ten minutes was fast and furious with seven scores between the two teams. O’Carroll pointed a 45m in the 21st minute and Caroline Forde added another point giving the lead back to Kildare. Roscommon then added 2-2 while O’Carroll tagged on another pointed free in the last minute of the half. The first of these goals came from extended pressure by Roscommon. The ball came in from the half forward line, hit the upright, then rebounded off a Roscommon player and was saved by Finnegan. After a goalmouth tussle it eventually broke to the edge of the square where Donna Kelly made no mistake on the third time of asking. This and a McGeeney goal, following a well placed pass from Rachel Fallon, gave Roscommon a five point lead at half time on a score of Kildare 1-6 Roscommon 4-2.
On the restart, Siobhan Hurley reduced the Kildare deficit to four points with an inspirational long range point from mid-field . Kildare upped the pace and the Cappagh trio of Clare Doran, Caroline Forde and Orla Bambury were tenacious in attack. They were rewarded with a goal in the 36th minute when Bambury found Doran whose effort rebounded off the Roscommon goalie NIamh Connolly for an own goal.
Kildare were now a point behind but Roscommon were not rolling over. The next ten minutes or so of the game were scoreless. This was a reflection of both sides strongly contesting the ball but neither coming out on top. Kildare had the majority possession but the Roscommon defence’s blocking and close marking was an effective tactic that reduced the space available to the Kildare forwards and the running game that is their characteristic. The stalemate was eventually broken when Catherine Keegan extended the Roscommon lead with a pointed free.
Stoic performances by Bambury, Forde and Doran, ably supported by Clodagh Farrell and Susie O’Carroll, meant that Kildare were still in the hunt. Kildare’s best move of the match involved a tireless Farrell winning a ball on the left wing which she crossed across the square. Jackie O’Rourke, making her Kildare debut, and who had shortly before come on for the injured Siobhan Hurley, was in the right place at the right time for the Lilywhites. Ball and hurley made clean contact and O’Rourke had put Kildare ahead by a point after the ball headed straight to the back of the net.
The Lilywhites didn’t get long to enjoy the lead as Roscommon’s Catherine Keegan levelled the game in the 21st minute with a point. In the final phase, the game’s rhythm swung more in Roscommon’s favour. Camped in the Kildare backline, they forced errors from a tired Lilywhite backline who conceded two frees. From these, in the last four minutes, Roscommon scored 1-1 and along with an earlier point they ran out winners by five points.
Kildare: Lizzie Finnegan (St. Laurences), Emer Hurley (Johnstownbridge), Paula Keatley (St. Laurences), Ciara Tallon (St. Laurences), Aoife Trant (Johnstownbridge), Carol Nolan (St. Laurences), Louise Walsh (Maynooth), Siobhan Hurley (0-1, Johnstownbridge and captain), Caroline Forde (0-1 Cappagh), Clodagh Farrell (Leixlip), Orla Bambury (Paulstown, Kilkenny), Clare Doran (Cappagh), Reiltin Treacy (St. Laurences), Susie O’Carroll (1-5 (1-4f 0-1 45m), Ann Dempsey (Johnstownbridge). Subs. Jackie O’Rourke (1-0 Cappagh) for Siobhan Hurley (injured). Christine Higginbotham (Nurney) for Ann Dempsey.
Kildare Team Mascot: Laura Newman (Johnstownbridge)
Roscommon: Niamh Connolly (o.g.), Emer Farrell, Niamh Connolly, Catherine Morris, Carmel Killeen, Siobha Coyle, Ciara Moran, Donna Kelly (1-0), Patricia Lennon, Claire Curley, Catriona Regan, Kelly Hopkins, Fiona Connell, Annette McGeeney (2-1), Rachel Fallon (2-0). Sub. Catherine Keegan (0-3) Clodagh Rogers (0-1) Elaine Daly (0-1)
Referee: Rita McGrath, Westmeath