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Tuesday 24 April 2018

Hurt and heartbreak for Mary's

All-Ireland Schools Junior 'A' Championship Final Replay: St Angela's 1-5 St Mary's 0-7

Dean Goodison in Carriganore

Aisling Prendergast and Cria Langton of St. Mary’s apply pressure on St. Angela’s captain Abby Flynn.
Aisling Prendergast and Cria Langton of St. Mary’s apply pressure on St. Angela’s captain Abby Flynn.

It might not be next week, it might not even be next month, but there will come a time in the not too distant future when 35 All-Ireland Post Primary Junior 'A' camogie championship runners-up medals will find their way into a prominent place in 35 bedrooms.

Each medal will sit on the bedside table, or maybe on the homework desk, and it will always be to hand to act as a reminder. Staring back at it will be a determined face, one believing that a better day lies ahead, that the best memories can be made in the biggest of all school camogie finals.

That's exactly what lies ahead for the New Ross school. They had the talent to win this game in Carriganore; it didn't work out on the day but that doesn't mean it won't next time.

The hurt will be a strong motivator, as it's obvious to anyone watching this St. Mary's side recently that they will grow and learn from their loss to St. Angela's.

What's possible in the future should over-ride the feeling of what's lost. Few Wexford sides have had the talent to win a top level Senior schools final; this St. Mary's team have that and will have it as long as they continue to believe in themselves.

There was zero quit in this Mercy side, as they never dipped below full-tilt intensity.

Territorially they completely bossed the first-half but a 0-5 to 0-3 lead felt several points short of what it might, arguably should, have been.

The second-half, in which the Waterford side were helped by the partial crosswind, was a little more even but similar patterns continued. St. Mary's won so many individual battles across the field that it's almost inconceivable that they ended as runners-up.

Yet they did come up short because of a few things. In attack, St. Angela's had the best performer on the field in Abby Flynn. Every time she got the ball it spelt trouble and it was no surprise that she was the only Ursuline player to score from play, with the De La Salle youngster grabbing 1-2.

It was telling that St. Mary's scored seven times to their opponents' six, as opposed to losing that battle 10-6 in the drawn game. That was a direct reflection on the refereeing.

Unlike Cathal Egan, Mike Ryan was excellent, letting the game flow as much as possible and making no obvious errors.

However, that was countered by a dominant full-back-cum-sweeper in Lucy Hogan. St. Angela's restricted the New Ross goal chances that proved so vital in the first game, making their opponents shoot from deeper with limited success in windy conditions.

And of course, as with most close games, rub of the green is important. There were two goal chances in the contest, and Ursuline scored theirs from distance through Flynn, whereas from close range the ball wouldn't settle for Katie Murphy when all alone with Elena Gallagher inside.

If roles were reversed, Mercy score and Ursuline miss, it would have been a five-point swing - wafer thin margins indeed.

Taking chances is a big part of any game; Ursuline won that battle and it ensured that they took the title.

Faye Codd had opened the scoring with a nice finish to Ciara Walsh's pass in the second minute. Flynn countered that point, and did so again when Codd scored from an acute angle on the right in the ninth minute.

With the breeze helping from the left as they shot, St. Mary's missed a few decent dead-ball chances, but they did take the lead again when Walsh bounced off her team-mate and fired over from just inside the '45 in the 16th minute to make it 0-3 to 0-2.

Again Ursuline responded, this time through Aoife Fitzgerald, and it looked like they would somehow go in level-pegging, despite most of the game being played in their half.

However, the pressure finally told and Amy Cahill added a couple of injury-time frees to make it 0-5 to 0-3 at half-time.

It took Ursuline eleven second-half minutes for Fitzgerald to notch a couple of dead-balls and tie the game at 0-5 each.

However, St. Mary's redoubled their efforts and got on top again. Walsh put her side ahead after good work by Codd and Cria Langton before Aisling Prendergast made the advantage two after Katie Murphy was pulled back when breaking through on goal.

That cynical bit of defending earned Hogan a yellow card but it's one she would have been delighted to take in the circumstances.

Now 0-7 to 0-5 up, it looked like it was destined to be St. Mary's title if they could keep the ball out of the net.

That didn't happen. In the 50th minute Hannah Dunphy broke out off her line with a dropping ball.

Her clearance didn't get the distance into the wind, and Flynn picked it, strode onto her strong side and drilled it over the Mercy 'keeper's head into the net from the edge of the '20.

It was the first time New Ross trailed but they responded immediately. Codd and Langton again combined to find Murphy all alone on the edge of the square.

The ball simply refused to sit for her, as it got tangled up in her body, then her legs, and the Ursuline defenders soon swarmed the Rathgarogue-Cushinstown club player out.

Still St. Mary's drove forward. With three minutes left Prendergast dropped a 40-metre free short.

It pinged back and forth in the goalmouth for an age, several Ross girls got ball in hand but none could get a telling shot away, and somehow Ursuline escaped and hung on for victory.

St. Mary's (New Ross): Hannah Dunphy (Mullinavat); Áine Galavan (The Rower-Inistioge), Elaine Quigley (Cloughbawn, joint capt.), Bríd Walsh (St. James'); Niamh O'Shea (Rathgarogue-Cushinstown), Karie Kehoe (Horeswood), Niamh Ogilvie (Cloughbawn); Amy Cahill (Rathnure, 0-2 frees), Tara Doyle (Cloughbawn, joint capt.); Kate Foley (Horeswood), Ciara Walsh (St James', 0-2), Cria Langton (The Rower-Inistioge); Katie Murphy (Rathgarogue-Cushinstown), Aisling Prendergast (Graiguenamanagh, 0-1 free), Faye Codd (Cloughbawn, 0-2). Subs. (unused) - Gemma Dunne (Graiguenamanagh), Gráinne Kelly (The Rower-Inistioge), Sinéad Murphy (St. James'), Caoimhe Lyng (Rathgarogue-Cushinstown), Róisín O'Connor (Rathnure), Ella Dalton (St. James'), Ella Foley (Rathgarogue-Cushinstown), Fiona Ryan (Gusserane), Sophie Roche (Rathnure), Sarah Flynn (Cloughbawn), Méadhbh Nunan (Fethard), Kathryn Dempsey (Horeswood), Eva Mooney (Rathnure), Amy Ryan (The Rower-Inistioge), Eimear Holden (Graiguenamanagh), Fiona Guiney (Rathnure), Jane Prendergast (The Rower-Inistioge), Ella Lyng (Rathnure), Kate Galavan (The Rower-Inistioge), Alison Donnelly (Glenmore).

St. Angela's: Elena Gallagher; Sorcha Cantwell, Lucy Hogan, Shauna Farrell; Jodie Tuohy, Sarah Maher, Holly Ryan; Clodagh Carroll, Rachel Walsh; Clodagh Hoctor, Aoife Fitzgerald (0-3 frees), Laoise McLoughlin; Alisha Flynn, Abby Flynn (capt., 1-2), Clodagh Curham. Subs. (unused) - Hannah Leamy, Shauna Gaffney, Emer McGlynn, Amy Kehoe, Caoimhe Mulvaney, Aoife Dunphy, Alannah O'Sullivan, Sinéad Dunphy, Vicky O'Sullivan, Sarah Power, Alannah McNulty, Molly Comerford, Ciara Berry, Melanie Buck, Anna Cullinane, Róisín Sweeney, Lina Sadiki Llodra, Lauren Cullen, Gráinne Kavanagh, Deanna O'Brien.

Referee: Mike Ryan (Tipperary).

Wexford People

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