SHIRLEY MOLONEY REPORTS
CIARA O’Sullivan added to her impressive medal haul this year after inspiring Newcestown to SE Systems Cork Camogie Intermediate Championship glory at Castle Road on Sunday afternoon.
The two-time All-Ireland winning Cork minor won the Player of the Match award as she scored 1-5 to fire Newcestown to a county title and also into the senior ranks for 2020.
Newcestown captain Mary McSweeney was full of praise for O’Sullivan: ‘There’s no stopping Ciara when she gets the ball. When she goes, she goes, and she well deserved the player of the match award.’
That Newcestown beat their local rivals Enniskeane in this county final makes the triumph even sweeter, and now the champions have senior-grade camogie to look forward to next season.
‘It’s phenomenal really, it hasn’t sunk in yet that we are in the top grade but hopefully we can push on now and do our best there,’ said classy forward O’Sullivan.
‘Last year we were knocked out in the semi-final so all year we have had this drive.’
Newcestown were rocked, however, by an early Enniskeane goal, as Cork star Orla Cronin fired to the net inside the opening minute to give her side the dream start.
‘We didn’t put our heads down after that, we came back into the game and every single one of our players gave it 110 per cent,’ McSweeney said.
It took Newcestown two minutes to register their opening score and it came from player-of-the-match O’Sullivan when she fired over a 20-metre free. The influential O’Sullivan followed it up quickly after when she made a surging run at defence and finished with a handpass point to cut the Enniskeane lead to the slimmest.
Cronin put two between the sides on five when she pointed a close-range free, however Newcestown had the deficit back to one when O’Sullivan found Evelyn Crowley free on 30 metres and she split the posts with a fine effort in the eighth minute.
Then a brace from Sinead Hurley and a Cronin 45-metre free opened up a three-point lead for Enniskeane, 1-3 to 0-3, before O’Sullivan pulled one back when she pointed a free.
A six-minute spell passed without a score due to the defensive prowess of both sides, and it took a superb O’Sullivan goal to break the deadlock and give Newcestown the lead, 1-4 to 1-3, for the first time in the game. Indeed, O’Sullivan pushed her side two clear moments later when she split the posts with a fine effort.
Cronin pulled one back for Enniskeane when she slotted over a 30-metre free, however Maria Kenneally cancelled it out when she fired over on the run to see Newcestown hold a half-time lead of 1-6 to 1-4.
Upon the resumption Kenneally opened up a three-point lead for Newcestown when she pointed. Emer O’Brien pulled one back for Enniskeane when she took a pass from Cronin and duly fired over a fine effort on the run before Cronin cut the lead to the slimmest when she scored a 20-metre free shortly after.
Enniskeane were dealt a hammer blow when Newcestown’s Aoife O’Sullivan was on hand to scrape the ball into the net following a goalmouth scramble that came about after a Ciara O’Sullivan handpass goalward effort was initially saved by a tenacious Enniskeane defence.
Aoife O’Sullivan extended the lead to five when she pointed before Ciara O’Sullivan left six between the sides when she put over a 45-metre free.
A Cronin long-range free on the three-quarter mark pulled one back, and then Enniskeane were handed a lifeline. Ten minutes from time, a Daire O’Brien free from 45 metres sailed into the top right corner of the Newcestown goal to drag Enniskeane right back into the final and cut the deficit to just two.
Cronin made it a one-point game two minutes from normal time when she slotted over a 30-metre free to set up a nail-biting finish. However, despite a late Enniskeane rally Newcestown remained resolute and held out to take the victory and secure senior status for the West Cork side in 2020.
Newcestown: C O’Sullivan 1-5 (2f, 1 45); A O’Sullivan 1-1; M Kenneally 0-2; E Crowley 0-1.
Enniskeane: O Cronin 1-6 (5f, 145); D O’Brien 1-0 (1-0f); S Hurley, E O’Brien 0-1 each.
Newcestown: O Dineen; M McSweeney (captain), A O’Sullivan, S Kelleher; G Ryan, M Lynch, A O’Donovan; E Tarrant, L Whelan; S Deasy, C O’Sullivan, M O’Donovan; E Crowley, M Kenneally, A O’Sullivan.
Sub: A Murray for S Deasy (50).
Enniskeane: K Corcoran; L Duggan (captain), C Nyhan, K McCarthy; A O’Driscoll, D O’Brien, C O’Donovan; D Carroll, L Mannix; C Aherne, O Cronin, S O’Driscoll; S Hurley, C O’Mahony, T Sheehan.
Subs: E O’Brien for C Aherne (25), E O’Driscoll for D Carroll (42).
Referee: Cathal McAllister (Aghada).