St Killian’s are Ulster camogie champions

Fr Davies’ Cup final

11St Killian’s GarronTower 2-5 St Pius X Magherafelt 1-4

St Killian’s won their first Fr Davies’ Cup camogie final in Ballymena yesterday the hard way.  They stayed ahead from Dara Martin’s 5th minute goal until the finish, but their defence soaked up a huge amount of pressure from a St Pius X Magherafelt side that accumulated 18 wides over the hour.

Many of those wides can be attributed to the defensive qualities of the likes of Oonagh Ward, Annie Leech and the McKillop sisters, but St Pius X did create enough opportunities to win two finals.  Instead, for the second year running, they finish runners-up in the final.

Aimee Devlin had an early point for the Magherafelt side – direct from a 45, early in the game, but St Killian’s looked the likelier to punch holes in their defence with direct running over the next 10 minutes.

Dara Martin handpassed the opening goal in the 5th minute, but, in doing so, shipped a heavy challenge from the goalie and was forced out of the action.

Mary Kane floated over a nice point, and a few minutes later Sinead Cosgrove barged her way through the centre to find the net, only to be called back for over-carrying.

Strangely though St Killian’s went completely out of the frame for the second quarter as Sinead Conlon, Eimear McElwee and Niamh McGuckin took the game to them with Sarah Cassidy sweeping well at the back of midfield.

Although Eimear McElwee pointed in the 22nd minute, St Pius X were guilty of poor shooting and went in two points down at the break.

Despite an early pointed free from St Killian’s midfielder Dervla Cosgrove, St Pius X continued to take the game to the opposition, but had only points from Aimee Devlin (free) and Niamh McGuckin to show before the Tower awoke from their slumber and fired over 3 points in 4 minutes just after the three-quarter mark to go 4 up.  Two of those scores – from Sinead Convery and Tierna Carson – were clear goal chances that just went over.

In a low-scoring game, it looked enough until 5 minutes from time came two crucial scores.

Firstly Aimee Devlin lofted a free into the area and Niamh McGuckin got enough room in the scramble to lifted the sliotar to the net for a St Pius goal that closed the game to a single point.

A response was needed and came quickly.  From the poc out Sinead Cosgrove caught the sliotar high and played it through to Sinead Convery who found Tierna Carson charging through the centre and the centre-forward fired low to the corner of the net from 20 metres.

It was the score that killed the game and St Killian’s took control over the remaining minutes to claim the title and a place in the All-Ireland semi-finals in February.

It was a tough game played between two committed sides, but never a classic as both defences dominated.  Indeed the tackling and work-rate of the midfielders was of a defensive nature with the battle between Laoise McKenna and St Pius X captain Aimee Devlin a superb individual duel

In the end though, St Killian’s just had that little bit of quality finishing up front when it counted and that was enough to take them to the title.

The girls now go through to the All-Ireland senior semi-final in February – but focus switches to the Under 16s who have 2 league games left (v Keady Friday 8th Nov & v St Mary’s Magherafelt Mon 11th Nov) as they bid to join the seniors as Ulster champions.

St Killian’s : Sarah Kane, Cliodhna McManus, Oonagh Ward, Annie Leech, Siobhán McKillop, Claire Kearney, Clodagh McKillop, Dervla Cosgrove 0-2 frees, Laoise McKenna, Niamh McKendry, Tierna Carson 1-1, Mary Kane 0-1, Sinéad Convery 0-1, Sinéad Cosgrove, Dara Martin 1-0.

Sub : Aimee McDonnell for D Martin (inj 5), Leah Cosgrove for C Kearney (37), Áine Duffin, Hannah McLoughlin, Claire Diamond, Natasha Dempster, Eimhear Carey, Michelle Ward, Sian McNeill, Molly McLaughlin, Orla McNaughton, Clodagh McCann.

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