Birr topple champions as Offaly senior camogie championship kicks off

Thursday, 6 July 2017

The current Offaly senior camogie champions Shinrone were defeated in their opening round championship game at the hands of near neighbours Birr last Saturday evening.
Played in glorious sunshine but with a strong breeze blowing into the clubhouse end of the pitch, this first round match up in the senior camogie championship was always going to be a cagey affair but even with both teams short a few players and not wanting to show their full hands this early in the season, there was always going to be a bit of spice in this match and as usual both teams did not disappoint the expectant crowd that came out to cheer on their respective parishes.
Winning the toss of the coin Birr captain Katie Bergin opted to play with the wind and once the referee Shane Guinan threw in the sliotar, we knew that there would be 60 minutes of committed camogie, Birr opted to play with Gillian Irwin dropping deep as a sweeper and County stars Michaela Morkan and Arlene Watkins marking each other as they often do when training with Offaly.
The opening stages of the game were played around centre field and after six minutes Michelle Davis pointed for the home side after some sloppy defensive play. Rebecca Hoctor replied with a goal for Birr after catching a good cross field pass and drilling the ball into the net only for Grainne Egan to fire over a point. On 10 minutes the hurl of Eimear Mooney, who started the game really strongly, produced a lovely score but Shinrone then had a chance come back off the upright before Emer Reynolds and Kelly Sammon pointed from long range.
A foul on half way under the stand saw Orlagh Kirwan strike a sweet shot over the bar followed by points from Eimear Mooney and Mairead Jennings and another long range free from Orlagh Kirwan.
On 23 minutes Shinrone keeper Fiona McLeish took off a wonderful save from a blistering shot by Mairead Jennings, this was followed by a purple patch for Birr with points for Orlagh Kirwan and Eimear Mooney and a super goal from Alana Roddy who sidestepped her marker on halfway before running 40 meters and crashing the ball into the net from outside the D.
But not to be out done Christine Cleary was on hand to raise the green flag after a mix up in the Birr defence, the final score of the half fell to Arlene Watkins after a move involving at least 6 of the Birr team moving from defence to attack in an instant, Half time score Shinrone 1-4 to 2-8 Birr.
The second half started with a goal on three minutes after a strong run and shot from Grainne Egan who was causing lots of trouble for the Birr defence and on four minutes a trademark run from Arlene Watkins was halted abruptly by full back Kate Ahern but Arlene dusted herself down and slotted over the resulting free. The next 15 minutes of the match were tit for tat in the middle of the pitch with three more points two from Eimear Mooney and Rebecca Hoctor with the third.
With 40 minutes gone it was still all to play for, the game burst into life again, Shinrone's Kelly Sammon was the beneficiary of a mistake from the usually reliable Shauna Carroll before Mairead Jennings replied with a point before Michaela Morkan playing with an advantage unleashed an unstoppable shot past the Birr keeper.
This put just three points between the sides but to Birr's credit their heads did not drop and they seen out the remaining four minutes of injury time with points from Sarah Harding and Orlagh Kirwan.
The game finished on a scoreline of Shinrone 4-6 to 2-16 for Birr. Best for Shinrone on the day was Grainne Egan and Orla Maher making her Senior debut while for Birr Katie Bergin, Rebecca Hoctor and Eimear Mooney stood out. There is still a long way to go in this years senior championship with many a slip from the cup to the lip but with Tullamore running out comfortable winners against last years beaten finalists St Cillians, St.Rynagh's and Kinnity starting with a win this is building up to be a very keenly contested championship.
Shinrone 4-6 Birr 2-16.
St Cillians 2-7 Tullamore 3- 12.
Naomh Brid 4-7 to St.Rynaghs 4-27.
Kinnitty 1-17 St Sinchills 2-9.


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