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Super sub O’Sullivan strikes gold for Clan

Sun 17th Dec

Daragh Ó Conchúir


By Daragh Ó Conchúir, at Croke Park
Clanmaurice (Kerry) 1-7
Na Fianna (Meath) 0-7
A goal in the 41st minute by Amy O’Sullivan, within seconds of her introduction was the key score as Clanmaurice continued their remarkable story by winning the AIB All-Ireland intermediate club camogie title at Croke Park.

The only adult side in Kerry until last year, they were moved up to the second tier and only lost the All-Ireland semi-final after extra time to eventual champions Clonduff. And despite having just a panel of 17 to call on in the decider, they were able to finish the job with O’Sullivan making a massive contribution off the bench.

Patrice Diggin’s ongoing injury issues had her playing in at full-forward where she was tracked by Shauna Ennis, with at least one other defender slotting in alongside once Clanmaurice gained possession. That left the Munster champions with a plus one at the other end.

There were opportunities nonetheless in the expanses of Croke Park but the teams had five wides between them in the first nine minutes, indicating that there was much good play but the finishing touch was lacking.

The opener was an excellent score when it did come from Na Fianna’s Aoife Carey in the 11th minute, the midfielder splitting the posts from a free around 40m out and tight to the right sideline.

The Meath side had a gilt-edged goal chance soon after, following some slick inter-passing, but Emma Regan must not have seen Máire Kirby inside and overcarried.

Diggin equalised in the 14th minute, though it needed Hawk-Eye’s intervention to overrule the umpires after her shot from a 40m free was initially waved wide.

Na Fianna were more threatening though, with Kerrie Cole the conduit much of the time with her solo runs, but Niall Burke’s crew did not get the type of dividends they should have from those efforts.

In the 20th minute, Cole’s long ball evaded three players, including Clanmaurice goalie Aoife Fitgerald. It seemed certain that Kirby would finish from about three feet to an empty net but Rachel McCarthy got back to prevent her doing so, though the challenge from behind failed to make any connection with the sliotar and was certainly on the  borderline of legality.

Four minutes later, Cole did the spadework for Aedin Slattery to drive over the game’s first score from play. Niamh Leen was moved onto the diminutive speedster, who promptly rounded the Clan skipper but was then met with a late tackle that earned Sara Murphy a yellow card.

John Madden made one more switch in bringing Diggin out, with Jackie Horgan, another talismanic player that had struggled to get into the game, now in her regular full-forward slot.

Clan resumed in far livelier fashion and though Sophie Payne continued to have an impact for Na Fianna, Cole’s influence was nullified to a significant degree.

Diggin and Carey swapped points from frees but then came the Clanmaurice purple patch, kickstarted, after good work by Danielle O’Leary, by a Julianne O’Keeffe point in the 41st minute. It was O’Keeffe’s last act as she departed the fray along with Kate Lynch, replaced by Elaine Ryall and O’Sullivan.

Immediately, O’Sullivan had a goal, as Leen won the puckout and got the ball to Caoimhe Spillane, whose delivery looked sure to be gathered by Niamh Kirby. The alert O’Sullivan got a flick to dispossess the netminder in the midst of controlling the sliotar however and finished off the sod to the empty net.

In such a tight encounter, it seemed pivotal and with the wind in their sails, Horgan lofted a phenomenal point after a clever switch of the play by Diggin to put five between them.

Na Fianna drove forward however, helped by a retreating Clanmaurice. Aoife Fitzgerald made a smart save from Cole but the Royals chipped away at the deficit, with two pointed frees by Carey and a stupendous score from Payne.

It was O’Sullivan who had the last say however, with a brilliant point off her left and the final whistle sounded seconds later.

SCORERS FOR CLANMAURICE: P Diggin 0-4fs; A O’Sullivan 1-1; J Horgan, J O’Keeffe 0-1 each

SCORERS FOR NA FIANNA: A Carey 0-5fs; A Slattery, S Payne 0-1 each

CLANMAURICE: A Fitzgerald, M Costellow, S Murphy, R McCarthy, A Behan, N Leen, A O’Connor, D O’Leary, K Lynch, A M Leen, L Collins, C Spillane, J O’Keeffe, P Diggin, J Horgan. Subs: E Ryall for O’Keeffe (41), A O’Sullivan for Lynch (41)

NA FIANNA: N Kirby, C Coffey, S Ennis, G Grehan, S Payne, E Fagan, L Devine, A Slattery, A Carey, B Kelly, A Byrne, K Cole, M Kirby, E Regan, B Flynn. Subs: E Leddy for Flyn (42), L Dixon for Kelly (50)

REFEREE: Philip McDonald (Cavan)


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