Duharra building a head of steam
Nenagh Eire Og 1-5
Report: Thomas Conway in Kilcoleman
There’s now a credible argument to be made that Burgess-Duharra will win this year’s County Senior Camogie Championship.
Then again, there’s probably always a credible argument to be made that Burgess-Duharra will win the County Championship. Following an opening round loss to Cashel, Duharra have revitalised themselves with convincing wins over Silvermines and now Nenagh Éire-Óg. The seven-time champions are now building serious momentum, a fact which they reinforced last Saturday in Kilcoleman.
Truth be told, the hosts were never in danger. A somewhat competitive opening quarter saw Nenagh challenge their opponents in aggressive fashion - Zoe Grattan, Grace O’Brien, and Caroline Browne all taking the game to Burgess/Duharra with spirit and determination. And yet, as Silvermines had experienced a week previously, you can work all you like, but if it doesn’t produce a return on the scoreboard, then your chances of winning become slim. That was, in essence, the story of the first-half.
By the tenth minute Burgess were just 0-3 to 0-1 up, but they edged further ahead through the opportunism of Amy Kennedy and the free-taking abilities of Jenny Grace. They weren’t dominant, by any means, nor were their scoring chances abundant, but whenever there was a prospect of splitting the posts, Burgess invariably sent the ball flying over without fuss or hesitation.
Trailing by 0-7 to 0-1 on the cusp of half-time, Nenagh should have entered the dressing-room dissatisfied but still hopeful, having battled hard and managed to remain within eye-sight of the home side.
Enter Amy Kennedy. In an almost identical display to her performance against Silvermines seven days earlier, the 2017 Munster Club Player of the Year breezed into the game for a short period, clinched the result with a number of match-winning scores, and added a touch of class to the occasion.
The most decisive of those scores came in first-half injury-time, a crucial goal which saw her snap onto a breaking-ball and fizz a low effort straight past Niamh Sheridan. Many forwards have a similar ability to produce those moments of sparkling brilliance, but few have Kennedy’s knack of timing them to absolute perfection - sensing a lapse in concentration and then striking with killer instinct.
The goal was indeed crucial but in actual fact, it was the tirade of Burgess points just after half-time which definitively ended the contest. They had pushed 1-11 to 0-1 ahead by the 37th minute, with Ciardha Maher powering forward from midfield and Katie Grace also providing a platform in the centre. Kennedy and Grace tend to share the scoring duties between them, accounting for a combined total of 1-12 on this occasion, but one can’t afford to dismiss the impact of the other Burgess forwards.
Both Laura Reid and Ciara McKeogh are vital components of that inside-line, always hovering dangerously close to goal and allowing Kennedy to roam out the field and do what she does. The injection of pace provided by Caoilfhinn Maher, who was sprung from the bench, is also the last thing which a tired defence wants to deal with in the latter stages of a game, something which was palpable when Maher emerged into the fold.
To Nenagh’s credit, they were never prepared to accept defeat, and started to make amends for their first-half scoring drought from about the 37th minute. Having racked up 1-9 against Silvermines, Tipperary star Grace O’Brien wasn’t as prolific on Saturday, but became increasingly influential as the game wore on, engineering the attack and eventually netting a late goal via a free.
Nenagh could and should have scored more, but still strung together some nice combination moves, with O'Brien, Caroline Browne, and later Maeve Coffey converting. Nenagh's second-half substitutes, many of them young and inexperienced, all did their best to make an impact, but Duharra never lost command, and seem destined for another tilt at the county title.
Player of the Match: Amy Kennedy (Burgess-Duharra)
Burgess-Duharra: Ciara Holohan (7), Fiona Kirwan (7), Gemma Grace (7), Úna Quigley (7), Kaitlin O’Halloran (8), Caoimhe Maher (8), Eimear Dwane (7), Ciardha Maher (0-2, 8), Katie Grace (0-1, 7), Emily Morrissey (7), Jenny Grace (0-8, 5f, 1’45) 8), Danielle Nealon (7), Amy Kennedy (1-4, 9), Ciara McKeogh (7), Laura Reid (7).
Subs: Caoilfhinn Maher (7) for Morrissey (37); Laura Kennedy (7) for Nealon (42); Clara Bourke (7) for Reid (46); Áine O’Halloran (7) for O’Halloran (51); Grace O’Dwyer (7) for McKeogh (51).
Nenagh Éire Óg: Niamh Sheridan (7); Ruth Hassett (6), Rachel Maher (7), Ella Carey (7), Aoife O'Brien (7), Alannah Morris (7), Kristen Howard (6), Zoe Grattan (7), Rachel Spillane (6), Grace O'Brien (1-3, 1-1f) 7), Caroline Browne (0-1f, 7), Ciara McGrath (7), Maeve Coffey (0-1, 7), Lily O'Brien (6), Emer Ryan (6).
Subs: Michelle Barry (7) for Spillane (33), Michelle Collins (7) for Ryan (44); Avril Dooley (7) for Howard (44), Lauren Spain (7) for A O'Brien (52), Maeve Sheridan (NR) for Coffey (58 inj).
Referee: Eddie Kennedy (Borrisokane)