Saturday 22 September 2018

Experienced Rathnure stun the holders

Rathnure 2-7 Oulart-The Ballagh 0-12

Rathnure's Oonagh Doyle is chased by Katie Murphy of Oulart-The Ballagh during Sunday’s semi-final in Enniscorthy
Rathnure's Oonagh Doyle is chased by Katie Murphy of Oulart-The Ballagh during Sunday’s semi-final in Enniscorthy

Dean Goodison

When is old too old? It's not a question Rathnure can answer at the moment, not after this stunning upset of Oulart-The Ballagh in the county Senior camogie championship semi-final in St. Patrick's Park on Sunday.

Starting in the full-back line with Bernie Holohan and Jean Hayden, moving through Claire O'Connor at five to Evelyn Quigley in midfield, Aoife O'Connor at half-forward all the way to Lenny Holohan in the corner - all are pushing deep into the thirties.

There's no substitute for experience, they say, and it proved literal for Rathnure as they ground out a throwback victory.

Five of the six mentioned above played the full game, from start to finish, and guided their talented youth over the line. It was impressive to watch.

One could look at Oulart-The Ballagh and think of their great success, assuming they can cover up injuries to Karen Atkinson and Aideen Brennan with a hungry youngster. It doesn't always work like that and those two, evidently, were badly missed.

Atkinson would likely have picked up Lenny Holohan and that loss was particularly stinging. The Rathnure number 15 put in a stunning performance.

She was unplayable, still holding her pace, mixing it in with the wily flicks of opponents' hurls to get her into possession.

What Oulart-The Ballagh couldn't get from their fringe players, Rathnure got in bucketloads. Each substitute for the Blackstairs girls contributed in a positive way. They were used at the right time and they were effective, confident and massively determined.

It started early on, as Ursula Jacob had two points on the board in the first four minutes but Holohan nipped across the full-back line to pick up possession 30 metres from goal and proceeded to flash a vicious, perfectly-placed shot off Sharon Kehoe's hurl to the net.

After Stacey Kehoe put her side ahead again in the tenth minute, Oonagh Doyle settled the early nerves by calmly slotting her first dead-ball after a foul on Holohan. She added another to counter Shauna Sinnott's score but Oulart-The Ballagh then got a little run going.

Anais Curran scored a superb point from the right sideline, Jacob registered her fourth dead-ball, and Emma Moran tapped over after being picked out by Shelley Kehoe as Oulart-The Ballagh moved 0-8 to 1-2 ahead.

Doyle scored just before the break, after Holohan was fouled again, but the two-point deficit would increase further after the re-start. It felt like Rathnure really needed to keep the ball out of the net to have any chance, and Fiona Donnellan did just that in the 32nd minute.

It was the Rathnure 'keeper's Jerzy Dudek moment. Much like the Polish netminder's save from Shevchenko in the 2005 Champions League final, Donnellan just flung limbs and hurl out after Una Leacy blocked down her clearance, and somehow she deflected the sliother up and over the crossbar.

Oulart-The Ballagh still led by 0-11 to 1-4 as the game moved into the final quarter.

Holohan started the revival with a point but it was Aoife Guiney's goal, after she raced away from the Oulart-The Ballagh full-back line and fired to the net, that really lifted the victors.

Thanks to alert linesman Aiden O'Brien, Marie Morrissey had won an earlier free that Doyle had scored, and she played the provider role for Nora Higgins' point that put Rathnure ahead for just the second time in the 50th minute.

Holohan pointed after being picked out by Ciara O'Connor's crossfield line ball. From that moment on, most of game was played in the Rathnure half of the field as they defended with every ounce of energy they had left.

A foul on Anais Curran resulted in Jacob putting a point between the sides a minute into injury time. Oulart-The Ballagh's big chance to level came in the 67th minute when they won a '65.

Jacob hit it fairly well but Donnellan stuck the hurl up above the bar, cushioned the ball to herself, and her side won a free to clinch their final spot opposite St. Martin's.

Rathnure: Fiona Donnellan; Jean Hayden, Louise O'Leary, Bernie Holohan; Claire O'Connor, Eimear O'Connor, Leanne Foley; Michelle Martin, Evelyn Quigley; Oonagh Doyle (0-4 frees), Aoife O'Connor, Jackie Quigley; Sandy Carr, Aoife Guiney (1-0), Lenny Holohan (1-2). Subs. - Nora Higgins (0-1) for Quigley (39), Marie Morrissey for Carr (39), Ciara O'Connor for Quigley (45), Laura Redmond for Doyle (54), Farren Byrne for E. O'Connor, inj. (60+3), also Laura Brennan, Eimear Byrne, Jackie Carr, Ashlynn O'Leary, Lisa Martin, Niamh O'Connor, Lizzie Whiteley, Emma O'Connor.

Oulart-The Ballagh: Sharon Kehoe; Aoife O'Connor, Ciara Storey, Louise Sinnott; Aoife Dunne, Mary Leacy, Katie Murphy; Shauna Sinnott (0-1), Shelley Kehoe; Anais Curran (0-1), Ursula Jacob (0-7, 6 frees), Diane Ryan; Stacey Kehoe (0-1), Una Leacy (0-1), Emma Moran (0-1). Subs. - Katie Gallagher for Ryan (48), also Saoirse Dunne, Laura Sinnott, Niamh Dempsey, Katie Roche, Leanne Nolan, Áine Sheridan, Rachel Sinnott, Eimear O'Connor, Lauren Sinnott, Orla Nimmo, Niamh Sinnott, Mairéad O'Brien, Brídín Redmond, Karen Atkinson, Aideen Brennan.

Referee: Philip Murphy (Faythe Harriers).

Wexford People

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