WEST Cork’s two newest junior camogie teams faced off in their first-ever adult games last Friday night week.
For both St Colum’s and Kilbree, their game was an historic occasion in Kealkil, a first for both clubs.
St Colum’s took the league points on offer with victory on the night – but both clubs were the real winners as they take their first steps into junior camogie.
‘We’ve waited for this since we formed in 2009,’ explained St Colum’s Eilis Nyhan.
‘Possibly we could have started a junior team then but we felt it was better to let girls come up through the underage ranks and let the club develop before starting a junior side.’
Previously, St Colum’s amalgamated with Clonakilty at minor level because the Kealkil side didn’t have sufficient numbers on their own. Last season was the club’s first year having their own minor camogie team and that’s now led to their first junior team. There’s a conveyor belt in place now, from underage up to junior.
In 2017, St Colum’s camogie and ladies’ football clubs amalgamated, and that saw the re-launch of the club’s junior football team that went on to reach a county semi-final. The club felt this was the year to launch a junior camogie team, and there is a big cross-over between the football and camogie teams, including Cork senior dual star Libby Coppinger, who was not in action in last Friday night’s game.
This young Colum’s team, most under the age of 21 years old, will compete in the county junior 13-a-side league and championship, as will Kilbree.
‘This is our first venture into adult camogie,’ Kilmeen-Kilbree PRO Marie Dorgan said.
‘Our underage camogie teams have been very successful, and while we don’t have a minor team, we felt it was time to start a junior team because we have players available to play. The time was right to make this move.’
Sean O’Brien, who managed Kilbree hurlers to South West JAHC glory in 2016, is in charge of the camogie side.
‘Having a junior team strengthens the pathway in the club and it also means that our players don’t have to go elsewhere if they want to continue playing as they get older,’ Dorgan added.
‘It is important to provide adult players with the opportunity to play in their own club and to give the younger girls a stepping stone into adult level. The adult players are very enthusiastic about this new venture.
‘While the catchment area for the club may be small, a team of committed officers and coaches have ensured continued success for the club.’
Kilbree Camogie Club has enjoyed plenty of underage success in recent seasons and have won county titles at U12 and U14 level. Kilbree’s current U14 team compete in the A grade, the highest grade in the county, and lately made it through to the last four in the county’s A Féile competition.
Kilbree’s panel for the club’s first-ever junior camogie game included Alice O’Donovan, Eilish O’Brien, Aisling Murphy, Fern McCarthy, Sinead O’Donovan, Katie Lancaster, Mairead Crowley, Leanne Sheehy, Grace McCarthy, Grainne O’Brien, Claire Reilly, Lorna O’Brien, Sarah O’Donovan, Ciara McCarthy, Chantelle French, Laura Horgan, Aisling O’Shea, Laura McCarthy, Ruth Kingston and Aoife Dullea.
While bragging rights went to Colum’s last Friday night, the two clubs will meet again in the county championship later in the year, and they will also play Grenagh, Rockabán and Castlemartyr.
For both St Colum’s and Kilbree, this is a step in the right direction and positive news for West Cork camogie, further strengthening the growth of the game locally.