Last weeks match report
All-Ireland Minor Camogie Semi-final
By Michael O’Leary
An epic and pulsating battle emerged in McDonagh Park, Nenagh last Saturday afternoon, as Kilkenny held off a late Galway rally to set up an All-Ireland final showdown with Cork this coming Saturday.
It was a strongly fancied Galway team who topped their group to qualify for the semi-finals, while also possessing a number of their players involved last years All-Ireland final success.
However, sheer will power, dogged determination and strong defending during the final quarter inspired by captain fantastic Megan Farrell led the Kilkenny surge to victory.
The Westerners made the brighter start, and an Orlaith McGraith goal gave them a 1-2 to 0-1 lead after just 7 minutes.
Kilkenny replied and points from Aisling Nolan, Megan Farrell with a superb effort and two Lydia Fitzpatrick frees drew them level by the end of the closing quarter.
Orlaith McGrath and Miriam Walsh exchanged points, before the prolific Ciara Ni Churraoin – Galway’s top scorer with 0-10 – added two pointed frees to restore Galway’s lead.
However, Kilkenny finished the half strongly as substitute Mary Corcoran and Lydia Fitzpatrick added points to draw them level. 1-5 to 0-8.
Corcoran was AWESOME when introduced late in the first-half, and she played a super sub role to massive effect scoring 0-3 from play.
The St. Annes club player added another point within seconds of the restart, and after Lydia Fitzpatrick and Maria Breheny exchanged points, a significant moment occurred.
Goalkeeper Noelle Murphy performed heroics to deny Maria Breheny a certain goal, as she pulled off a wonderful point blank save, and that moment inspired Kilkenny.
Moments later Miriam Walsh made a sterling run through the Galway defence, and she set- up Ciara Holden who emphatically blasted home to give Kilkenny a 4-point lead. 1-10 to 1-6.
However, Galway to their credit refused to wilt.
Ciara Ni Churrain pointed a superb free from a narrow angle, before Lydia Fitzpatrick cancelled out that effort with a similar result as Kilkenny maintained that 4-point lead intact entering the final quarter. 1-11 to 1-7.
Ni Churraoin pointed twice from frees to halve the deficit and keep Galway very much in contention entering the final 10 minutes, before Mary Corcoran struck over a brilliant point from an acute angle to calm Kilkenny nerves. 1-12 to 1-9.
Galway kept plugging away, and Ni Churraoin pointed a free before adding one from play to narrow the gap to just the bare minimum entering the closing few minutes.
Lydia Fitzpatrick stepped up to the ante by firing over a vital point from play with just two minutes left, before Ni Churraoin pointed a late free to restore the one point advantage.
Galway had a chance to bring proceedings to extra-time but Ni Churraoin’s attempt from a free went wide of a target, and Kilkenny held out for sheer delight and relief.
Kilkenny defended superbly during the closing quarter despite been under persistent pressure.
Megan Farrell was magnificent in playing a captain’s role and leading by example, while Catherine Foley, Mary O’Connell, Michaela Kenneally, Ciara Farrell and Ailish Butler all worked trojanly.
Lydia Fitzpatrick’s point taking accuracy was superb, but the performance of the forward division was somewhat worrying.
Four of their starting attackers failed to score from play, so definitely room for improvement in that area.
However, they have an All-Ireland final to look forward to on Saturday, as this years Minors attempt to become the first Kilkenny Camogie Team at Inter-County level to win National silverware since the Minors last All-Ireland win back in 2009.
Kilkenny – Lydia Fitzpatrick 0-7(0-6 frees), Mary Corcoran 0-3, Ciara Holden 1-0, Megan Farrell, Aisling Nolan and Miriam Walsh 0-1 each,
Galway – Ciara Ni Churraoin 0-10(0-8 frees), Orlaith McGrath 1-1, Maria Breheny 0-1
Kilkenny – Noelle Murphy(Lisdowney), Ciara Farrell(Thomastown), Catherine Foley(Windgap), Michaela Kenneally(Windgap), Megan Farrell(Thomastown) (captain), Mary O’Connnell(Clara), Ailish Butler(Thomastown), Lydia Fitzpatrick(St. Lachtains), Aisling Nolan(Clara), Miriam Walsh(Tullaroan), Sarah Whelan(St. Annes), Aine Gannon(Rower-Inistioge), Niamh Donnolly(Thomastown), Ciara Holden(Mullinavat), Alice Talbot(Piltown),
Sub: Mary Corcoran(St. Annes) for Donnolly
Panellists: Niamh Bolger (Thomastown), Niamh Sweeney (St. Annes), Katie Doheny (St. Lachtains), Deirdre Walsh (Mooncoin), Emer Moylan (Windgap), Lorrain Long (Piltown), Claire Nolan (Clara), Siobhan Corcoran (St. Annes), Emily O’Dwyer (Ballyhale Shamrocks), Eimear Fitzpatrick (Ballyhale Shamrocks), Debbie Phelan (Piltown), Sinead McCarthy (Piltown), Jennifer Norris (Piltown), Roisín Crowley (Mooncoin), Ciara Byrne (Clara), Laura Hegarty (Lisdowney)
Galway – Tara Murphy, Sinead Cormican, Rachel Bannon, Catrina Murphy, Maria Cooney, Michelle Dunleavey, Niamh Hannify, Ciara Burke, Ciana Ni Churraoin, Maria Breheny (Capt), Lisa Hynes, Sinead Gaffney, Orlaith McGrath, Cliodhna Walsh
Sub: Breda Hanlon for Sinead Gaffney