By Kieran Murphy at Protection & Prosperity Louth GAA Training Centre
Carlow are the Very League Camogie Division 3A champions as they just got over the line at Darver on Saturday against Armagh.
Hero of the hour was Eve Sinnott when she took a pass from Eleanor Tracey and found the posts from distance for the winning score. It was a point to grace any occasion and after leading by three going into the final quarter, Carlow breathed a massive sigh of relief.
While the flags blew strongly across the pitch, the conditions still favoured the team playing towards the dressing room end of the ground. Armagh probably didn’t make the most of the wind when they had it in the first half.
In a feisty opening the two goalkeepers, Catherine Kavanagh for Carlow and Armagh’s Ciarrai Devlin were tested but they showed superb composure when dealing with dropping balls while they both had to deal with loose ball in the small square.
Points from Leanne Donnelly and Eimear Smyth nudged Armagh clear. Carlow almost found the net but Rebecca Kelly’s first time pull went just wide of the left-hand upright. Those kind of chances were few and far between with defences very much on top. It was no surprise at the end of the game that it was a defender who took the Player of the Match award and while Carlow’s Rachel Breen got the nod, there were a number of players who had to be considered too.
Eimear Byrne opened the Carlow account when she collected a short free from Anna Breen and rifled the ball over the bar. Ciara Quirke used all her experience when crafting the equalising point and the eventual winners went in front when Eleanor Treacy converted a 45. The half-forward enjoyed a purple patch when she added two more points from play with Jennifer Curry replying for Armagh when she raised a white flag.
The scoreboard had Carlow in front by three points at the break but referee, Paul O’Neill from Antrim, confirmed that it was actually 0-5 to 0-3.
Carlow started the second half really well threatening to sweep their rivals off their feet. They were winning the frees but the wind made it difficult and they shot a number of wides. Devlin saved well from Tracey and Carlow were unlucky when Caoimhe Jordan took possession in a scoring possession but play was stopped for an injury to an Armagh player.
Sinnott’s first point put her side three clear and it looked as if it was Carlow’s to lose. For Armagh, Corinna Doyle scored a point within seconds of being introduced into the game. The fourth official then signalled that Armagh wanted to take off Rachel Merry. Before leaving she opted to take a free which she converted. While Armagh mentors discussed matters, the substitution was further delayed and Merry made their minds up when flashing over two points in quick succession. One of those was the lead pint.
Carlow dug deep and forced an Armagh defender to concede a 45. From the resultant placed. ball, Tracey made no mistake to level the game with two minutes of normal time left. The silverware could have gone either way. Then up stepped Sinnott and the cup was heading south.
There was heartbreak for Armagh with Doyle pulling her shot just wide of the left-hand post. They still had chances but found Carlow in no mood to concede a second time. While Tracey pushed another shot right and wide of the posts, the full-time whistle came on the puck-out. It was a game of inches and the former All-Ireland junior champions prevailed.
SCORERS FOR CARLOW: E Tracey 0-4(2 45s); E Sinnott 0-2; E Byrne, C Quirke 0-1 each
SCORERS FOR ARMAGH: R Merry 0-3(1f); L Donnelly, J Curry, E Smyth, C Doyle 0-1 each
CARLOW: C Kavanagh, R Breen, M Nolan, G Doyle, A Breen, K Nolan, K Garry Murphy, C Coady, T Wilson, R Kelly, E Byrne, E Tracey, B Nolan, C Quirke, E Cody. Subs: E Sinnott (for Cody (12), C Jordan for Byrne (ht), C Kavanagh for Kelly (55)
ARMAGH: C Devlin, S Woods, T Maguire, N Woods, A Crilly, A Harvey, C Crilly, K Comiskey, L Donnelly, J Curry, M McGuigan, E McKee, R Merry, E Smyth, E Lennon. Subs: C Doyle for Burke (42), G McCann for Woods (45), S Quinn for McKee (52)
REFEREE Paul O’Neill (Antrim)