Niamh McGrath was the deserved player of the match as Sarsfields won the AIB Camogie senior club title for the second time in nine months against a fantastic Loughgiel Shamrocks by 2-14 to 1-14 at Croke Park on Saturday, but the inspirational captain emphasised the collective contribution of the squad.
One of the skipper’s three sisters on the pitch Siobhán – Orlaith had to miss out due to a cruciate knee ligament injury – scored a goal after just 33 seconds to send the Galwegians on their way and she made a similar point.
The Shamrocks fought back from their slow start to actually lead by two, with Caitrin Dobbin goaling and Róisín McCormick unerring on the way to scoring nine points but despite losing their way a bit when Maria Cooney had to depart the fray injured before half-time, their class and experience told as they always had a response, managing to go in level at the interval, 1-6 apiece.
Rachel Murray’s second-half goal and points from the two McGrath siblings were crucial in the latter period.
“Absolutely delighted, so relieved,” was Niamh’s immediate reaction on leading Sarsfields to a third title. “I don’t know what I’m doing picking (the player of the match award) up, it was an unbelievable team performance.
“I’m so proud of everyone. We really dug it out. Loughgiel put it up to us, they’re a super team and they’ll be back no doubt, so we’re just absolutely relieved and delighted.
“We had a great start but we knew Loughgiel would throw everything they had at us. They’d have their purple patches and vice versa and my heart was in my mouth near the end. Thank God we got the pivotal scores when we did and got over the line.
“Nothing much was said at half-time. It was just not to panic and get over the mistakes. I know myself, I was the cause of the goal they got in the first half so it was just parking all that and driving on and showing what we had. I think in the third quarter and towards the end, we ground it out and showed our experience.
“Roll on the Christmas!”
“It’s the best one yet to be honest,” enthused Siobhán. “To do back-the-back in the same calendar year, it’s what dreams are made of. All the obstacles we had to come through, doing it without Orlaith, Maria having to come off after 20 minutes, Sarah Spellman, fair play to her (who came on for Cooney having suffered her own cruciate injury). She was unbelievable there, she played about 50 minutes and that just shows the heart and determination we have.
“I was lucky (with the goal), there was so much space and they got the ball straight into me. You’re in the full-forward line, that’s your job.
“Fair play to Loughgiel Shamrocks they just never, ever gave up. A few times we thought we were in the clear, we went five points up but they stayed battling to the last minute and no doubt they’ll be here again.”