Annacarty claim Senior Camogie League title
CAMOGIE: Tipperary Senior League Final
Nenagh Éire Óg 0-8
Report: Thomas Conway at The Ragg
Player of the Match: Gemma Fox (Annacarty)
SCORERS – Annacarty: Eva O’Dwyer 0-4 (3 frees, 1 ’45), Siobhán O’Neill 0-3 frees; Jean Kelly, Eilish MacDonald 0-2 each; Leah Heffernan 0-1.
Nenagh Eire Og: Grace O’Brien 0-8 (5 frees, 1 ’45).
Neither of the sides contesting this county senior league final will feel it beyond the bounds of possibility that they could be featuring in the championship decider over the coming years, but last Saturday they were forced to settle for the curtain-raiser event in The Ragg.
Still, a piece of silverware is a piece of silverware and on this occasion, it was Annacarty which were slightly hungrier for it. The West Tipperary club drew on their accomplished forward line to outshoot their northern opponents, while Gemma Fox engineered the play from her location at centre-back.
Grace O’Brien’s importance to this Nenagh side was illustrated by her haul of eight points, but the skilful wing-forward was instrumental in defence as well as attack, and at times seemed ubiquitous across the field.
Having won a free straight from the throw-in, she launched the first placed-ball of the afternoon from 65 metres, only to see it bounce off the left-hand upright and into the danger-zone. Annacarty dealt with the situation well, emerging with possession before handing it straight back to Nenagh’s number 8.
The next attack saw O’Brien win the ball and sneak a close-range effort on goal, forcing an impressive reactive save from Aoife Butler. O’Brien miss-struck the subsequent 45 but was given another opportunity when the ball deflected off an Annacarty hurley and nailed it at the second attempt.
O’Neill responded with a free for Annacarty, the result of a scintillating run from team-mate Jean Kelly, which opened Nenagh up and served as an early warning from the corner forward. Another free followed, before Jean Kelly replicated her first incursion on goal with another trademark run, finishing the move herself this time by slotting the ball over.
Alongside O’Brien, Caroline Browne and Zoe Grattan were both a frequent presence on the ball throughout that first half, capitalising on a spacious middle third and launching balls into the danger-zone. As a result, Nenagh created a plethora of chances, all of them taking the form of goalmouth melees, but none of them yielding any reward.
In contrast, Annacarty’s productivity in front of the posts was ultimately the difference between the two sides. Having led 0-3 to 0-2 at the water-break, the West club began to really find their rhythm on approach to half-time. Kelly knocked over her second, Eilish MacDonald contributed her first of the afternoon, allowing Annacarty to open a 0-6 to 0-3 lead.
They appeared to be flying high, but Nenagh’s attacking eventually started to pay dividends. Two crafty O’Brien points from play, the first of them an over-the-shoulder effort and the second a beautifully slick wrist-powered strike following a series of jinks and side-steps, were among the highlights of the first half. Frees either side of those two scores enabled Nenagh to restore parity by half-time, with O’Brien, Nenagh and Annacarty all finishing the half with six points.
Nenagh’s energy seemed to dissipate after half-time, with O’Brien contributing their only two second-half scores, both of which came from placed-balls. Annacarty, meanwhile, showed more purpose going forward, forcing their opponents to concede frees and allowing Siobhán O’Neill to take of the rest. O’Neill had struck twice by the time that Leah Heffernan landed a point from play in the 38th minute, making use of minimal space to direct the ball straight between the posts. Another O’Neill free stretched the lead to four points, and from there Annacarty never looked back. Eva O’Dwyer assumed some of the free-taking duties in the latter stages, before Eilish MacDonald capped off the performance with a sweet-struck point from play, deep into stoppage time.
Having been despatched by Cashel at the quarter-final stage of the senior championship, retaining the league title will certainly offer consolation to this Annacarty side, and given their recent successes at underage level, the momentum is there to take things a step further in the coming years.
TEAMS – Annacarty: Aoife Butler; Mary O’Dwyer, Sarah Bourke, Ellen Gantley; Elaine Kelly, Gemma Fox, Karen Fox; Rachel O’Dwyer, Laura Heffernan; Leah Heffernan, Siobhán O’Neill, Rosanna O’Donnell; Jean Kelly, Eva O’Dwyer, Eilish MacDonald.
Nenagh Éire Óg: Sara Quigley; Michelle Collins, Ella Carey, Rachel Maher; Maeve Hassett, Hazel McAuliffe, Ruth Hassett; Alanna Morris, Zoe Grattan; Caroline Browne, Rachel O’Connor, Grace O’Brien; Megan Grace, Eimer Ryan, Maeve Coffey.
Referee: Joe Cahill (Kilruane MacDonaghs)