Sports

St Cillian's Retain Offaly Minor Camogie Title

Thursday, 3 November 2016

THE last Offaly Camogie championship title for the 2016 season was played out in St Brendan's Park Birr on Sunday last when St Cillian's sought to retain the Minor A Championship title against their opponents in the 2015 final - Birr.

St Cillian's ...1-13
Birr ...1-5

With both teams lining out with players from the successful County Minor team the game was expected to be competitive. In the semi finals St Cillians had a comprehensive win over St Rynagh's whilst Birr took their place in the final having disposed of Tullamore. St Cillian's would have carried the favourites tag as title holders and as County Senior finalists. Conditions for camogie could not have been better with St Brendan's Park in splendid condition and only a slight breeze prevailing on a warm Autumn day.

Whilst both sides played competitively and displaying some fine camogie St Cillian's were dominant from the start of the game and were a more evenly balanced team. A telling factor was that Birr's entire scoring came from the stick of Sarah Harding and from placed balls whilst St Cillian's shared their scoring tally with five players with a mixture of frees and scores from play.

What was surely the score of the match was a free in the second half of the game by Birr's Sarah Harding. Birr were seven points behind. Sarah took a quick free and from 40m out aimed for goals and put it beyond the reach of the St Cillian's defenders and goalie to bring Birr back into the game. Alas this was nearest that Birr would come to St Cillian's in the second half despite some trojan efforts by Birr and in particular their defenders. And whilst Sarah Harding lorded it for Birr the Birr defence contained many of the St Cillian's attacks with Aoibhe Whelahan making many fine clearances and Alanna Roddy playing a dual role of defender and attack. St Cillian's were strong throughout the field but were best served by sisters Aisling and Ciara Brennan and wing forward Dara Hanamy.

Playing with a slight breeze St Cillian's Aisling Brennan opened the scoring when awarded a free 50m out and pointed. The game was only two minutes old when Elizabeth Harding netted a goal. The title holders added two further points from Dara Hanamy and Aisling Brennan before Birr responded. Birr's first chance of a score came when awarded a free. Sarah Harding went for goals but her attempt was deflected for a 45m from which she raised Birr's first flag when she pointed. Dara Hanamy and Sarah Harding exchanged points.

St Cillian's lead was reduced to four points when Sarah Harding took her third point for the challengers. Birr set up further attacks courtesy of Sarah Harding and Trudy Feenane but they were thwarted by Ellen Cashen who marshalled the St Cillian's goals to good effect. With a further point from Sarah Harding the gap was narrowed to a three point lead for St Cillian's. Ciara Brennan attempted to advance St Cillian's scoring when awarded a free however her shot was well blocked by Alanna Roddy. Before half time Dara Hanamy and Aisling Brennan added to the title holders tally from placed balls and Aideen Freeman pointed from play when Clodagh McCormack delivered in a long range ball and at half time St Cillian's led by 1-7 to 0-4.

Aideen Freeman gained a point from a difficult angle to put St Cillian's further ahead. Then came what must be the score of the match when Sarah Harding goaled from a placed ball when she quick wittedly took the opposition by surprise with a quickly taken free. Points were exchanged by each side heading into the last quarter of the game from which time Birr failed to add to their tally and St Cillian's went on to add a further four points thus ensuring that the Minor title remained in the Carrig & Riverstown based club for the second year. Birr must await a further year to take this title and this should prove possible with many of their panel eligible for this grade in 2017.

St Cillian's will be well pleased with this title which will strengthen their position in the Senior ranks in the 2017 season.

TEAMS:

ST CILLIAN'S: Ellen Cashen, Lisa Hoctor, Megan King, Orlaith Plunkett, Clodagh McCormack Aisling Brennan (0-4), Aoife Hoctor, Ciara Brennan, Shiofra Ryan, Aoife Hogan (0-1), Elizabeth Harding (1-0) Niamh Killeen, Aideen Freeman (0-3) Capt., Brid Ryan, Dara Hanamy (0-5). Sub: Nicola Dolan for A. Hogan, Emma Harding for B. Ryan, Orla Killeen for A. Hoctor, Sinead Bergin, Cathy Fogarty, Michelle Maher, Claire Hogan and Rachel Dolan.

BIRR: Niamh Middleton, Edel Hoare, Aoibhe Whelahan, Ella Coughlan, Niamh Campbell, Alanna Roddy, Doireann Errity, Sarah Harding (1-5), Mariesa Cleary Capt, Megan Kinsella, Trudy Feenane, Caoimhe Dunne, Roisin Donovan, Brooke Whelahan, Aoife Gilligan. Subs: Sarah Dooley for M. Cleary, Elaine Mullins for R. Donovan, Caoimhe Abbott, Wren Higgins, Emma Behan.

REFEREE: Kieran Pat Kelly (St Rynagh's).

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