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Relegation a distant memory as Munna’s bounce back in style

Mon 18th Dec

Daragh Ó Conchúir


By Daragh Ó Conchúir
It was a redemptive year for St Munna’s, who having long been a standard bearer of Westmeath camogie, had fallen on hard times and dropped out of the elite echelons of the domestic game.

Now though, after finishing a campaign that had already yielded county and provincial titles with a gritty 2-7 to 1-5 triumph over Crossmaglen Rangers to secure the AIB All-Ireland Junior B Club Camogie Championship crown at NGDC Abbotstown on Saturday, they are buoyant once more.

Sandra McGrath provided 2-6 of the winning tally, the two goals coming in the first half either side of an Eva Cassidy major for Cross but the contribution of goalkeeper Bridget Leavy was just as crucial, as she made a couple of top-notch saves to deny the Armagh outfit.

Her first half stop from Lauren McConville in particular, at a time when the Saints were still feeling their way into the game, was a pivotal moment but McGrath’s second goal, arriving in injury time after taking a pass from sister Sheila, gave the victors a goal lead at the break, 2-3 to 1-3.

Cross did get to within two thanks to points from Faye Fitzpatrick and teenager Eva Cassidy but Sandra McGrath slotted three frees to calm the nerves.

“Crossmaglen were very good,” said a relieved winning manager, Paddy Maloney afterwards. “We knew coming in they were going to be very tough opponents. We were under fierce pressure the last 10 or 15 minutes, I thought maybe this might slip away from us but as they did all year with Munna’s, they kept fighting and fighting and fighting and they got across the line and fair play to them.

“I can’t wait to get them home to get the third cup back to the village. I’m delighted for the girls. From last February or March when we started, they’ve been an absolute dream to train and I couldn’t be more happy for them.

“It means a lot. All families: sisters, cousins, brothers, husbands and wives, the whole lot (are in this panel). It’s unbelievable to have such a close community. It’s mighty.”

Abbie Reihill might not have gotten on the scoresheet on this occasion, but her contribution had to be one of her best with some monstrous catches – three in around 90 seconds standing out – as well as graft and creativity to carve out opportunities for others, earned her player-of-the-match honours.

“It’s unreal,” said a delighted Reihill. “I think it hasn’t really fully sunk in. We knew it was gonna be a really tough one but we just can’t believe it. It’s unreal.

“We got relegated at the end of last year but we knew we’d come back fighting. We knew that we would show our strong selves this year. It’s great for the young girls, winning three finals this year, it just drives everyone on and brings everyone’s confidence back as well.

“I think the workrate shown was just outstanding. We left nothing on the pitch today. The subs that came on were unbelievable. I’m just so proud of everyone and we’ll enjoy the win now.”

And she was able to reveal that the secret to her phenomenal aerial prowess was around her wrist

“Dad told me to wear this tape to today the catch the sliotars and maybe it worked! I didn’t score anything but I suppose I set up a few scores. The likes of Sheila and Sandra put them over. They were unreal too.”


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