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Sunday 20 October 2019

Holders forge extra-time win

Camogie, Senior Premier Championship Semi-finals: St Martin's 0-9 Rathnure 0-8 (AET)

Amy Cardiff handpasses despite the best efforts of Michelle Martin
Amy Cardiff handpasses despite the best efforts of Michelle Martin

St Martin's will have the chance to defend their Premier Senior camogie title in two weeks' time after they scraped past Rathnure in another turgid defensive battle in Bellefield on Sunday.

There has been a lot of talk this season about rules and their implementation being the scourge of camogie, but the overly defensive tactics filtering down into the club game is running at a close second.

This clash was very much along the lines of last season's county final. The reason why it was closer?

The explanation for that is as simple as the fact that Sarah O'Connor is injured, meaning the champions were missing their best player.

These sides shared just four points from play in 80 minutes. St. Martin's scored three of them, Rathnure just one, from Jackie Quigley, the only player to register for them throughout.

The Enniscorthy District side looked to blame the referee for this loss, and nobody is going to say Damien Donovan had a great game, but examining why Aoife Guiney, their most dangerous outlet, got very little ball after the first-half, is where the post mortem should start.

Could St. Martin's suffocate the life out of Oulart-The Ballagh in the county final, much like they did here? They may try but the challengers have many more viable weapons to hurt the Piercestown-based club. They didn't have to beat Oulart-The Ballagh to win the title last season, but they do now.

Four Quigley dead-balls were enough to give Rathnure a 0-4 to 0-3 lead after 24 minutes, but Lettie Whelan knocked over the only point from play of the half to level the game. The St. Martin's full-forward was fouled for a penalty in added time but Chloe Foxe's effort was weak and easily saved.

Linda Bolger did pop over a '45 to give her side a 0-5 to 0-4 interval lead, which increased to two after Foxe pointed following the break.

Two Quigley frees levelled the game after 44 minutes but Foxe registered after a quickly taken dead-ball to leave her side one up with six minutes to go.

Rathnure pressed with everything they had but it was somewhat ironic that, in such a defensive battle, it took centre-back Eimear O'Connor to break off the shackles, run 50 metres untouched and off-load to Quigley for her side's only score from play - the 59th-minute equaliser (0-7 each).

After several injury stoppages, more instances of St. Martin's time-wasting and multiple substitutions, there's no possible way that referee Donovan can justify the mere 45 seconds of added time played. Still, it was the same for both sides and they went scoreless in the first-half of extra-time.

Foxe put the holders ahead in the 71st minute before Anna Hennessy, back on the field after a break, collected from Amy Ryan's pass and tapped over to make it 0-9 to 0-7.

Quigley pulled one back with her sixth free in the 79th minute but St. Martin's held on to their win.

St. Martin's: Mags D'Arcy; Aisling O'Connor, Noeleen Lambert, Marie Claire Morrissey; Áine Ennis, Ciara O'Connor, Mary Barrett; Katie O'Connor, Ella O'Connor; Linda Bolger (0-2 '45s), Anna Hennessy (0-1), Lisa Firman; Chloe Foxe (0-5, 4 frees), Lettie Whelan (0-1), Emma Codd. Subs. - Amy Cardiff for E. O'Connor (41), Niamh Dunne for Hennessy (45), Amy Ryan for Firman (55), Hennessy for Codd (71).

Rathnure: Laura Brennan; Leanne Foley, Louise O'Leary, Lizzie Whiteley; Lisa Martin, Eimear O'Connor, Jean Hayden; Aoife O'Connor, Michelle Martin; Jackie Quigley (0-8, 6 frees, 1 '45), Michelle O'Leary, Jackie Carr; Aoife Guiney, Ciara O'Connor, Marie Morrissey. Subs. - Oonagh Doyle for Carr (31), Fiona Donnellan for Martin (65), Eimear Byrne for C. O'Connor (67), Emma O'Connor for Foley, inj. (78).

Referee: Damien Donovan (Volunteers).

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