By Tom Clancy
Derry are Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Intermediate camogie champions for the second time. They saw off Meath with richly deserved eight-point victory.
This replayed clash, played at St Tiernach’s Park, Clones was a ferociously physical contest played in blustery conditions.
The Jack McGrath Cup will head to Foyleside, after a more accurate display, while they ignored the Meath fightback to find another gear in the final ten minutes.
The Ulster side last won this competition, also after a replay, in 2012, when defeating Galway’s second outfit. Joint captains Aine McAllister and Aoife Ní Chaiside add a second All Ireland having been involved all those years ago.
Aoibhin Lally replaced Grace Coleman in midfield for Meath in the only change for either side from the drawn game last weekend.
After Aoife Minogue landed a routine free to open the scoring Mairead McNicholl replied with a fine effort from 40 meters. There was a fine tempo to this game early on, with both sides eager to lay an early marker after the stalemate. Derry were sharpest last week but Meath showed a bit more from the off this time around.
Derry, backed by a vocal support opened a 0-3 to 0-1 advantage with scores Aoife Shaw, a free and a ‘45’. But Brendan Skehan’s side landed four in as many minutes to lead. Aoife Gaffney for the pick of those while Emma O’Connell was also accurate.
This was a game that ebbed a flowed, with clearcut goal chances hard to find, particularly with a couple of fine hooks at either end.
Then came a run of four for Derry. Shaw sent over a disputed free which saw Derry 0-6 to 0-5 ahead. Liz Dempsey consulted with both umpires before awarding the point. This came just moments after Aine McAllister nearly scored a fortuitous goal. Her long-range shot dropped short and goalkeeper Tara Murphy fumbled if off the post and away. It was one of five shots left short by the Oak Leafers in the opening half.
Shaw quickly landed her first from play but the other Aoife, Minogue, followed suit with a neat first from play. Late points from Mary Hegarty and Shaw meant that four of the last five scores went to those in red and white. Like last week, Derry held the half-time lead, this time by just three 0-9 to 0-6.
Eimear McGuigan landed her second to make it a two-score game early in the second half.
Youngster Leah Lennon typified the Derry effort, eagerly winning Meath deliveries and carrying the possession to launch more attacks.
Abbye Donnelly was upended for an 49th minute penalty, which Minogue buried it before an immediate point from sub Sonia Leonard made it a one point game. It did feel as if Meath had the momentum but they couldn’t sustain this in order to get level, or indeed ahead.
Derry dug deep again, two sublime efforts, one from Mary Hegarty and the other from Shaw turned the tide. Then the goal that clinched the result.
Sub Shannon O’Connor netted from an acute angle to put Derry six clear for the first time with just six minutes remaining. They would pull clear with O’Connor and Aine McAllister both on target.
Ultimately Derry got closer to a sixty-minute performance out of his side, where they had far greater threats in their forward line than Meath, who will perhaps rue missed opportunities in Croke Park last weekend.
Laura McKenna was awarded Player of the Match prior to the Jack McGrath Cup returning to Derry hands once again.
SCORERS FOR DERRY: A Shaw 0-7(3fs, 2 45s); S O’Connor 1-0; A McAllister 0-3(1f); E McGuigan, M McNicholl, M Hegarty, 0-2 each, D O’Kane 0-1
SCORERS FOR MEATH: A Minogue 1-6 (1-0 pen, 0-5fs); E O’Connell, A Gaffney, S Leonard 0-1 each
DERRY: N Gribbin, N Quinn, L Lennon, S McGill, R Downey, A Ní Chaiside, L McKenna, D O’Kane, A McGill, M McNicholl, A McAllister, E McGuigan, A Shaw, R McAllister, M Hegarty. Subs: S O’Connor for McGill (27), O Hill for Hegarty (60), E McCloskey for McKenna (60), B McCullagh for Shaw (60)
MEATH: T Murphy, R O’Neill, C Coffey, S Payne, T King, M Clinch, L Devine, A Lally, A Minogue, A Gaffney, A Donnelly, O O’Halloran, C Foley, E O’Connell, E Burke. Subs: S Leonard for Lally (ht), G Connolly for O’Halloran (43), G Coleman for Donnelly (58), E O’Brien for Gaffney (60)
REFEREE: Liz Dempsey (Kilkenny)