Cloughbawn make it third time lucky
The sides had played for 30 minutes since Cloughbawn last scored, it had been just four less since Kate Foley bounced off in what looked a strange substitution at the time, and there was just eight minutes left in the Junior 'A' camogie championship final in Farmleigh on Saturday when everything changed.
Cloughbawn 3-8 Rathnure 2-7
With two flicks of the wrists Gina Foley completed her hat-trick and with it sent Cloughbawn to title glory. It was won the hard way. The Castleboro girls came into the game with two defeats already this season to their near-neighbours Rathnure under their belts, and they were determined not to make it a third.
Foley ensured it wouldn't end in a terrible treble. After being level (1-7 to 2-4) at half-time, Rathnure added a pair of Sandy Carr points in the third quarter to take a two-point lead, and then Foley arrived to play the role of saviour.
The first goal of the two, her second, came when Kate Cullen's effort on the right was blocked into her path. Foley is a clever forward, and she worked just enough space to rattle off a shot and it flew low to Brudge Roche's net.
Just two minutes later she effectively wrapped up the win. Ciara McKellen, who got through so much work in midfield, started the move that saw Patrice Lawler assist for the goal. Foley's shot was perfect and not so perfect in equal measure as it floated, almost in slow motion, into the top corner but wasn't exactly struck sweetly.
Not that anyone from Cloughbawn will care about aesthetics. The hat-trick goal was followed by a Nessa Wickham free with four minutes remaining and not even Carr's fourth point threatened the champions unduly after that.
It started in markedly different fashion. Scores were plentiful as Rathnure registered first through the excellent Aoife Guiney, only for their opponents to run off four consecutive points from Cathy O'Brien, Kate Foley, Marie Claire Byrne and Wickham.
Rathnure bounced back when Ava Conran, on just seconds for the injured Lisa Martin, handpassed to Grace Hearn who powered in on goal and sent an inch-perfect shot low past Carrie Flood. Less than a minute later Kate Foley, not for the first time, hared away on the lef and sent a perfect crossfield ball to Gina Foley who shot low to the Rathnure net.
Trailing by 1-4 to 1-1 at the end of the first quarter, the Blackstairs girls responded first with an Aoife Guiney point and then another goal, coming this time when Sandy Carr claimed possession out by the '45 and darted untouched through the centre of the Cloughbawn defence to net.
Again Cloughbawn bounced back with points from Claire Stephenson, Wickham and McKellen to lead, only for Carr and Hearn to raise the last two white flags of the half to leave the sides deadlocked at the break.
Rathnure went on to hold the lead for much of the second-half but Gina Foley had the final say as her major treble sent the cup back to Cloughbawn, with her side set for the Intermediate ranks in 2016.
Cloughbawn: Carrie Flood; Danielle Kehoe (capt.), Connie Murphy, Seanon Creane; Claire Stephenson (0-1), Marie Claire Byrne (0-1 '45), Aisling Higgins; Ciara McKellen (0-1), Róisín Stephenson; Patrice Lawler, Kate Cullen, Cathy O'Brien (0-1); Gina Foley (3-0), Nessa Wickham (0-3 frees), Kate Foley (0-1). Subs. - Ellen O'Brien for K. Foley (30+1), also Niamh Harte, Ráidín Murphy, Caoimhe Doyle, Róisín Kehoe, Rose Kehoe, Niamh Higgins.
Rathnure: Brudge Roche; Anne Marie O'Connor (capt.), Shannen O'Connell, Bridget Murphy; Andrea Creane, Laura Hogan, Ashlynn O'Leary; Rhys Hogan, Lisa Martin; Shauna O'Connor, Sandy Carr (1-4), Jackie Carr; Lisa O'Connell, Grace Hearn (1-1), Aoife Guiney (0-2). Subs. - Ava Conran for Martin, inj. (13), Róisín Higgins for Creane (31), Rosie Conran for L. O'Connell (52), also Kelly O'Connor, Kaylee O'Connell, Ciara Codd, Sarah Boland, Olivia Lambert, Julie Conran.
Referee: Aidan Breen (Ferns St. Aidan's).