NOEL HORGAN REPORTS
IT was obvious Newcestown had an uphill battle on their hands after they conceded a goal shortly before half time in the Munster club intermediate camogie final at Castle Road in Blackrock last Saturday.
While they turned over just five points in arrears, 1-6 to 0-4, it was hard to see them erasing the deficit in the second half in view of how commanding the Lismore defence, particularly the full-back line, had been before the break.
As things transpired, Newcestown failed to reel in the Waterford senior champions, but they made a gallant effort to do so, and had they been more economical with their chances, they would certainly have been closer at the finish.
That they squandered several opportunities from scoreable frees left them with good cause for rueful reflection, all the more so since Aoife Hannon’s unerring accuracy from placed balls was a key factor in Lismore’s success.
‘Normally our free-takers are very reliable, but it didn’t happen for us in that regard today,’ lamented Newcestown manager John Cronin afterwards.
‘I thought we controlled the game in the second half, but we just didn’t put enough scores on the board, and the bottom line is you must take your chances if you want to win these competitions.
‘It’s very disappointing that we didn’t turn Lismore over, but we’ve had a great year, and this was a bit of a learning curve for the team, so we’d be happy enough.
‘We are the county champions, we’ll be going up senior, which is where we want to be next year, and hopefully this experience will stand to us,’ he remarked.
Newcestown made a promising start, responding to a couple of early Lismore points with a hat-trick of scores shared by Meabh O’Donovan, Collen Twomey, from a free, and Therese McCarthy during the opening ten minutes.
Lismore enjoyed the better of the exchanges for the rest of the first half however, not least because of their dominance in defence, and the threat carried by full forward Caithriona McGloone at the other end.
The result was that Newcestown didn’t add to their tally until Colleen Twomey, fed by a precision cross from Colette Desmond, pointed in stoppage time, and Lismore, courtesy of a well-taken goal by the ever-menacing McGloone in the 29th minute, had opened up a six-point gap in the interim.
Newcestown almost made a major breakthrough on the resumption when a long-range free by Suzanne Deasy deceived Lismore custodian Tanya Morrissey, but corner back Sarah Coughlan was on hand to prevent the ball from crossing the line.
Deasy delivered a strong display at centre back for Newcestown in the second half when Maeve Lynch, who performed with the utmost competence throughout, and Alison Crowley were equally effective in the half back line.
Zerica Griffin and Evelyn Crowley were very much to the fore as well at midfield, all of which allowed Newcestown to gain a territorial edge, especially during the last 20 minutes.
Under limited pressure, the Newcestown full-back line, in which Aisling O’Donovan stood out, looked much more assured as the second half progressed, but, while Meabh O’Donovan, Colleen Twomey and Colette Desmond had their moments up front, the Lismore rearguard remained firmly in control for the most part.
It meant the Waterford kingpins, leading by 1-8 to 0-5 at the three-quarter stage, looked odds-on to prevail before the decision to entrust Colette Desmond with the free-taking duties brought results for Newcestown.
Desmond converted two frees at either side of an excellent point from play by Ciara O’Sullivan, as Newcestown began to nibble away at Lismore’s advantage and set the scene for an exciting finish.
They were four points adrift when Colleen Twomey expertly gathered a Collete Desmond delivery to earn a free at the edge of the square, giving them an opportunity to grab the goal they needed to resurrect their hopes in the final minute of regulation time.
Suzanne Deasy’s well-struck shot was saved, and, to compound Newcestown’s frustration, Deasy was off-target with an effort to bring them back within striking range from a 65 shortly afterwards.
Aoife Hannon had the last word from a free for the Lismore girls, who, while they deserved to come out on top, were flattered by their winning margin on the overall run of the play.
Lismore: A Hannon 0-7f, C McGloone 1-2, S Curran 0-1.
Newcestown: C Twomey 0-3 (2f), C Desmond 0-2f, M O’Donovan, T McCarthy, C O’Sullivan 0-1 each.
Lismore: T Morrissey; S Coughlan, S Prendergast, E Curran; A Houlihan, S Kiernan, M Russell; S Curran, S Williams; R Geoghan, G Kenneally, N Morrissey; A Hannon, C McGloone, J Houlihan.
Subs: S Bennett for A Houlihan (51), E Power for J Houlihan (54).
Newcestown: O Dineen; A O’Donovan, R Desmond, M McSweeney; M Lynch, S Deasy, A Crowley; Z Griffin, E Crowley; M Kenneally, T McCarthy, M O’Donovan; C Twomey, C Desmond, C O’Sullivan.
Subs: A Murray for Kenneally (injured, ht), H O’Mahony for McCarthy (55), E Murphy for Twomey (injured, 62).
Referee: P Dee (Limerick).