Thurles Sarsfields and Shannon Rovers captains Karen Kennedy and Aoife McLoughney. PHOTO: MIKE RYAN

Strong Sars stand in the way of Rovers senior leap

CAMOGIE: Tipperary Intermediate Championship Final Preview


By Enda Treacy

Camogie grounds, The Ragg
Sunday 20th September
Throw-in @ 3.30pm (E.T.)
Referee: Cathal Boyle (Ballybacon/Grange

After the dust settles on the senior decider on Saturday, there will still be the small matter of the clash of Thurles Sarsfields and Shannon Rovers in this year’s County Intermediate Camogie final as they clash on Sunday for the chance to play senior camogie in 2021. 

Thurles have become the bridesmaids of the intermediate grade recently as they have failed at the final hurdle in the last two years, losing out to Cashel and Toomevara respectively, and they will be desperate to take that next step and do the business on Sunday. 

With some emphatic victories in the group stage with four wins out of four, Thurles certainly look like a team making a big statement of intent on getting the job done this time round and they are preparing for a Shannon Rovers side they who provided their toughest test in the first round in early August. 

“Yeah, it was a really tight game that day,” according to Thurles player Katie McCormack who recalled their trip up to Ballinderry to play the north outfit. 

“It certainly felt like it afterwards anyway, because it was an extremely tough battle up in Ballinderry, so we’re expecting more of the same from them on Sunday.” 

The last two promoted junior champions have gone on to win the intermediate title in the last few years, with Cashel and Toomevara the teams to achieve this and this is a sore point for McCormack and she maintains that there will be no hint of underestimating their opponents on Sunday. 

“Shannon Rovers definitely look to be emulating the form of the last few years with the promoted clubs, after winning the junior last year so we’re not going underestimate anyone at this stage,” she said.

“I don’t think we’ll let ourselves fall into level of complacency that maybe we were guilty of last year in particular against Toome.  

“They showed a lot more experience than us on the day and were maybe that bit more experienced but I think we’ve learned since then. We know we have to bring a performance to get the result we want.”

They take on a Shannon Rovers side who, like so many junior champions in the last few years, are really riding the crest of a wave in terms of confidence and they will be extremely pleased with how their campaign has gone, even allowing for the five-point defeat to Thurles the first day out. 

A narrow semi-final victory over Kilruane MacDonaghs last Saturday has put them just one game away from a phenomenal achievement for a club that has such a young outfit and are probably ahead of schedule in their development, according to manager Vincent McKenna. 

“Our girls are very young,” he said. 

“Last year we had six minors playing when we won the junior and this year we have eight, but we’re lucky that they’ve bedded in well with some of the more experienced girls. 

“I suppose the difference between us and the teams that have won successive promotions in the last few years is the experience of the players on their teams, so we’ll have it all to do on Sunday. 

“But look, we’re absolutely thrilled to be in the final and we’re thrilled the girls acquitted themselves so well in the group; we won four of the five matches and we’re building in confidence and everything from here is a bonus at the end of the day.” 

Comparatively, Shannon Rovers have had some tight matches in their run in which included having to face a Kilruane side that they defeated by a single point earlier in the championship and they managed to repeat the feat with another narrow 0-7 to 0-6 win against their north rivals last Saturday where they really had to dig deep to get the win, and this is a characteristic they have displayed in abundance according to injured stalwart, Aoife McLoughney. 

“The girls were brilliant, they really were. I think they would have been gunning for us after the win earlier in the year, but our girls really put in a big performance,” she expressed. 

The task ahead against this all-conquering Thurles Sarsfields team is not lost on the Rovers contingent and McLoughney knows they will go into the game as underdogs, but said they will go into the game feeling like they can pull off an upset. 

“We’re under no illusions about the task ahead of us, but we’re not going to go into a game or a final thinking we can’t win it,” she said.
“We just have to go all out for it and that’s what we’re going to do. 

“We had a similar situation against Toomevara in the junior final two years ago, where we went in and lost the game well, but we never gave up at any stage and we did everything we could to make it as tight as possible on the day.  

“So, I think the girls will go out with the attitude that it doesn’t matter what happens as long as we give our all, and if we’re beaten, we’ll be beaten by the better team.” 

This game should be a good one and with the result earlier in the year as an indicator, Shannon Rovers should certainly be good enough to compete well, but Thurles Sarsfields look hungry this year with some huge markers laid down in the games to date and they should have more than required to finally clinch that elusive intermediate crown. Verdict: Thurles Sarsfields 

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