All-Ireland Camogie Minor B Final Replay
By Pat Delaney
LAOIS’S good record in All-Ireland final replays continued in Nenagh on Saturday last. As these girls did two years ago, it was their second half performance that ensured the long wait for a title would not be prolonged.
Neither side showed any change from the drawn game so it was who ever had learned the most was going to win. However, at the end of the opening half the sides were still locked together, although Laois had the greater share of possession but missed a few opportunities.
Limerick opened the scoring with a point by captain Ailbhe Larkin. From the puck out Alice Walsh caught the ball and delivered an inch perfect pass to full forward Kirsten Keenan who out jumped her marker and from close range hammered high into the roof of the net.
Limerick clawed their way back with points by Iris Kennelly while a point by Katie Carroll saw parity after 13 minutes.
Laois were denied a second goal by the alert Limerick keeper, Sarah Gillane. Two great points from play in as many minutes by centre forward Alice Walsh pushed Laois two in front and when Eireann Cole was hauled down Kirsten Keenan converted, although it took consultation between the officials before the score was confirmed.
The sight of Alice Walsh leaving the field for treatment did not look good and it was a relief when she returned after treatment despite Alannah Tynan being warmed up and raring to go.
The closing minutes of the half were hard fought as both sides went for scores but defences were on top at both ends. Three minutes before the break a Limerick player charged down field, heading for goal when Aedin Lowry halted her progress. For her efforts the Laois keeper earned a yellow card and a penalty was awarded to the girls in green. Up stepped Enya Harrington and she hammered into the Laois net to level the game.
After that Laois won a free that sailed wide of the uprights leaving the scoreboard reading 1-3 apiece at the break.
Laois supporters were still in confident mood as the teams returned and just before the break Alannah Tynan had replaced Andrea Scully in attack.
Laois were awarded two early frees, one a vital one out of defence but they were stunned three minutes into the half. Limerick centre back Stephanie Woulfe had moved down field and sent an exquisite pass across the field towards Orlaith Kelleher. The Kilfinney player raced towards the Laois goal to slam the ball past the Laois keeper.
Limerick supporters came to life and after Limerick were then awarded two frees Laois responded and won a free in the 35th minute in the middle of the park. Clodagh Tynan stood over the ball and launched a high ball in that went straight between the uprights.
This lifted Laois and suddenly it was Laois who turned the game upside down and from trailing by a goal they went four points clear all in the space of eight minutes.
First it was Alice Walsh causing havoc. She picked out the well placed Eireann Cole who calmly slotted the ball inside the right hand upright. From the puck out Clodagh Tynan reached highest and made tracks up field. She then swung in a high ball towards the Limerick goal. The keeper advanced but in her haste to clear the ball she unfortunately hooked the ball over her own goal line.
Disaster for the Shannonsiders but Laois were not getting carried away with 15 minutes remaining.
Limerick began to crumble and conceded frees which led to Kirsten Keenan increasing the Laois advantage to five points with 13 minutes remaining. If Limerick thought it could not get worse, well it would.
Laois were now camping in the Limerick half. Ten minutes from the end another Laois attack saw Lucy O’Connor flick the ball across the goal mouth where Shona Jones had positioned herself. The St Brigid’s player pulled first time and the net was bulging again.
Laois supporters could hardly believe what they were seeing. If Laois could hardly believe then Limerick could barely watch as the title favourites were falling asunder.
The remainder of the game was stop-start but five minutes before the end of normal time there was drama as Limerick came charging for goal but the Laois keeper, Aedin Lowry batted away the danger. Another forward gained possession and if she did the keeper was ensuring she would not be progressing. The referee indicated a second yellow card and a red leaving Laois with 14 players for the remainder of the game.
Aimee Collier went into goal as Limerick won two late frees to narrow the gap but after eight minutes of injury time the final whistle sounded and Laois supporters acclaimed the blue and white.
After the game Laois captain Alice Walsh accepted the All-Ireland trophy and thanked everyone who had made this day possible. A week after the Laois centre back watched a late free drift wide to prolong the game to a second meeting Clodagh Tynan returned to the scene and this time collected the player of the match after a commanding display at the heart of the defence.
LAOIS: Aedin Lowry (Camross): Fiona Scully (Camross), Sarah Fleming (Portlaoise), Katie Dunican (St Lazerian’s); Molly O’Connor (Harps), Clodagh Tynan (1-1, 0-1f St Brigid’s), Jade Bergin (Harps); Jessie Quinlan (St Brigid’s), Amy Byrne (Portlaoise); Andrea Scully Camross), Alice Walsh (0-2 Harps), Shona Jones (1-0 St Brigid’s); Lucy O’Connor (Harps), Kirsten Keenan (1-2, 0-2fs Camross), Eireann Cole (1-0 Naomh Eamon).
Subs: Alannah Tynan (0-1) for S Jones (28m), S Jones for Scully (h/t), Aimee Collier for Cole (53m), Cathy Galbraith for S Jones (59m), Zoe Daly (St Brigid’s) for Keenan (68m)
LIMERICK: Sarah Gillane: Megan Ryan, Emily Condon, Eva Butler; Michelle Curtin, Stephanie Woulfe, Roisin Mann; Ailbhe Larkin (0-3, 0-1f), Noelle Curtin; Iris Kennelly (0-1), Enya Harrington (1-0), Shauna Foley; Katie Carroll (0-1), Sinead McElligott, Orlaith Kelliher (1-0).
Subs: Aoife Morrissey for Harrington (42m), Ella Whelan for Carroll (53m)
Referee: Fintan McNamara (Clare)