Clonakilty school captures All-Ireland camogie crown
BY BRENDAN WALSH
SACRED Heart Clonakilty are in seventh heaven this week after their junior camogie team was crowned All-Ireland Camogie 7s champions in Ashbourne, Meath last Saturday.
Having won the Munster competition at the beginning of the month, the provincial champions followed this magnificent win by capturing the All-Ireland trophy.
The Sacred Heart girls, captained by Daire O’Brien and coached by Brian Daly, first played three group games against St Louis of Ballymena, Castlecomer of Kilkenny and Clare Galway from Galway.
The Clonakilty school defeated St Louis 9-3 to 3-1 in their opening game, inspired by solid defensive play from Kellie O’Gorman and Leanne Sheehy, while Anna Flynn from Ballinscarthy proved to be a handful with her direct running, and she was ably assisted by the inform Barryroe native Grace Tobin.
The second group game against Leinster champions, Castlecomer from Kilkenny, was very tight. Castlecomer raced 1-1 to no score ahead but then Hannah Sexton from Timoleague took control of the game. Clonakilty were back in the match when captain Daire O’Brien billowed the net after a sustained period of pressure.
The Clonakilty revival was now well underway with Claire Kingston and Emma O’Driscoll magnificent in defence, Annie Condon and Hannah Sexton dominating midfield and the speedy Jessica McCarthy making a difference up front. Scores were hard to come by however until Katelyn Dineen fired over two points of high calibre. Castlecomer levelled late on in this 1-2 apiece draw.
The final group game – against Clare Galway from Connacht – was business as usual from the students of Sacred Heart with Eimear O’Brien, younger sister of Daire, scoring two goals in this 3-3 to 2-1 win. Jessica Sweeney netted late in the first half and this was followed by scores from Katelyn Dineen (goal) and a great point from the flying Anna Flynn.
With Sacred Heart and Castlecomer on top of the table on equal points after the group stages, both teams automatically qualified for the final. The Clonakilty students adopted a different approach to the drawn match, which was to be decisive.
Acknowledging the strong defence of the Kilkenny students, coach Brian Daly directed the team to play a more expansive game on the wings. This was to prove the master-stroke as it stretched the Leinster champions and cracks began to appear.
With Claire Kingston lording the defence, Hannah Sexton partnered by Annie Condon again punishing the Kilkenny midfield with their strong running and the two O’Brien sisters on fire up front, the Clonakilty students dominated the first half scoring 1-5, the goal coming from young Eimear O’Brien.
After the interval, the Clonakilty students got out of the blocks quickly with Daire O’Brien and Anna Flynn chipping over for points. Then a long ball from midfield saw first year student Kellie O’Gorman, normally a back, win a ball that she had no right to win. She turned her defender using her low centre of gravity and finished to the net. Two pointed frees from Daire O’Brien put the game beyond the Kilkenny team, as Sacred Heart won 2-8 to 2-2 – and were crowned All-Ireland champions.
The All-Ireland winners were presented with the cup by President of the Camogie Association, Catherine Neary.