All Ireland Senior Club final preview;
Cashel v Athenry Sunday November 29
By Kieran Slattery, County Camogie P.R.O.
The ultimate prize of being crowned the best club in the Country is up for decision next Sunday when these two great teams battle it out in what promises to be a thrilling final. At the time of writing, the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick is the venue, but full confirmation of venue & time will appear on the Camogie & GAA websites during the week.
Athenry have yet to claim the Bill Carroll cup, but have been finalists in `07, `85, `82, `79, `76 &`75,. As a club their involvement in Galway Camogie has been well documented, & they bring with them to this game a hunger & drive to win which will be a huge advantage to them. Among their ranks are names like Therese Maher, Brenda Kerins and Regina Glynn, players well used to the big stage. One of their more influential players, Jessica Gill has been sidelined with a knee injury, & is reported as been unavailable for selection. In any Galway Camogie team, you will find a large representation of Athenry players. This year, Galway won the U16 All Ireland Championship, their Senior team reached the All Ireland Final in `08, & probably were unlucky to loose to Kilkenny in this year’s Semi Final. Their Intermediate team also won the All Ireland Championship beating Cork in a replay during the year. Evidence surely of the strength of Camogie in the West. Athenry would probably have wished for a tougher semi final challenge from Lougheil, but the young team from Antrim was no match for the Galway girls, & Athenry cruised to their deserved victory.
This is Cashel`s 3rd all Ireland final appearance, loosing to Pearses of Galway in 2001. Cashel again made the final when they beat Athenry in 2007 to claim their first & only title. This has also been the only title won by any Tipperary club. Their path to the final has seen them play out a thriller in the County Final against Burgess/Duharra. Their Munster campaign was somewhat less challenging with wins over Kileedy (Limerick) & St. Catherines (Cork). However, a much needed challenge was provided by Oulart the Ballagh (Wexford) in the Semi final, when despite having the best of exchanges in the first half, Cashel were down 2 points at half time. However, the manner which they turned this deficit around to win by 4points will place Cashel as favourites for Sunday’s game.
Speaking during the week, Cashel Manager John Grogan has said that “”the title of favourite does not or will not affect their preparation””. In relation to their displays up to this, John has been impressed on how his team “”dug out victories from games they some times looked to be loosing. The character & sheer grit that the whole panel puts into every performance has been commendable, & they will need to call on all of their depth of experience & self belief if they are to overcome the challenge of Athenry””.
One downside to their semi final win was the hand injury picked up by influential player Mairead Morrissey. Despite battling through the pain of a broken finger for most of the game Mairead still managed to register 1.03 for Cashel. It looks as if she will not be able to feature in Sunday’s game as a result of this injury.
Apart from meeting each other in the `07 final, these two sides met earlier in the year in the AlI Ireland sevens in Kilmacud. In what was a thrilling final, Cashel had a 1 point win over Athenry, helped by a display from Claire Grogan which earned her the award of player of the tournament. However, John Grogan isn’t placing too much attention on this result, & though it was great to win, it will have no bearing on how Sunday’s game will pan out. In that tournament, Cashel`s Sinead Millea sustained an ankle injury which has kept her out of action. She now has returned to do some light training, but whether Sunday’s final has come too soon for her remains to be seen.
As already mentioned, Cashel will be making their 3rd appearance in the final. Other Tipperary clubs have also reached the finals. Drom & Inch were finalists in 2008 when they found the challenge from O Donovan Rossa (Antrim) too much. Toomevara were runners up in 1995 when Rathnure of Wexford stole the show. We have to go back to 1971 when Thurles & Austin Stacks of Dublin were the finalists, & unfortunately it was the Dublin girls who claimed the title.
However, all associated with Tipperary Camogie & GAA will be looking forward to Sunday’s game, & lets hope for a large vocal support as the Tipp County champions seek out another All Ireland title.
Finally, last word to Manager John Grogan & the task facing Cashel; “” the girls will once again have to put in a 100% display similar to all the games played, & if they can re produce the tenacity & determination already shown, then he is confident that it will be Cashel`s day””.
Tipperary Camogie notes