SHIRLEY MOLONEY REPORTS
FIONA Keating showed her class to inspire Cork to All-Ireland minor A camogie championship glory.
The Courceys Rovers star showed just why she is rated as one of the top talents in the county. Her player-of-the-match performance and five points secured Cork this All-Ireland title for the second year in a row with a win against Clare at a wet and windy MacDonagh Park in Nenagh.
‘Fiona is a player who is able to cope with the big occasion and perform on the big occasion,’ Cork minor manager Jerry Wallace told The Southern Star.
‘She has the ability to become a championship player on the day of a big match. She scored five points from play in difficult conditions and two of those were in the second half when we needed scores against the wind.
‘She wasn’t afraid to carry the ball and take on responsibility. She’s a great prospect for the future.’
The impact of the wind could not be underestimated on Saturday, as Storm Hannah made a slow retreat.
Clare won the toss but decided to play against the wind in the first half. That allowed Cork build up a huge 3-11 to 0-3 at half time.
It was the Clodagh Finn Show early on as Cork laid siege to Rachel Daly’s goal. The Fr O’Neills tyro provided the first four points before getting the final touch to make it 1-4 to 0-0 with just seven minutes elapsed.
Lorna McNamara registered Clare’s opening two scores but Dervilla Moloney’s troops were left shell-shocked as Emma Murphy grabbed two goals inside a minute at the start of the second quarter. Keating provided a supplementary trio of points, McNamara Clare’s third but it was looking forlorn for the saffron and blue at that juncture as Cork led by 17 points at half time.
‘The conditions were quite difficult with the wind and some showers left over from the storm,’ Wallace says.
‘We discussed before the start the difficulties of playing with the wind and we asked our players to be composed and use the ball smartly. In fairness, they were brilliant in the first half. We scored 3-11. At half time we said that if we matched or bettered Clare’s first-half tally in the first half that we would hold on.’
Early in the second half Clare showed their intent and took full advantage of playing with the strong wind as they notched up 1-4 without reply inside ten minutes. That cut the Cork lead to ten points after 40 minutes.
Cork responded with a brace courtesy of Isobella Sheehan and Finn to put 12 between the sides before Lorna McNamara, who finished with 0-10 for Clare, struck three scores to see the lead cut to nine and inside the last ten minutes. Finn responded when she fired over a close-range free to push Cork ten clear.
Clare did score 1-3 in the closing four minutes to move to within six points but Cork weathered the late storm to defend their title.
‘We were never not comfortable in the second half,’ Wallace says.
‘The work that our midfield and our half-forward line did when we didn’t have the ball, they never let Clare settle and get ball into their inside line. The pressure we put on them in the second half was vital and that was the pressure they didn’t put on us in the first half.’
As well as Fiona Keating’s five-star display there was lots of other West Cork interest too as Hannah Sexton of Kilbrittain/Timoleague and Claire Kingston of Ballinascarthy started in defence, Sinead Hurley from Enniskeane was in midfield while Ciara O’Sullivan of Newcestown started in attack. A second Enniskeane player, Tara Sheehan, was introduced as a sub. Also, Siobhan O’Donovan of Courceys Rovers, who started the opening game of this campaign, is on the extended panel.
This is the second All-Ireland minor A title for both Keating and O’Sullivan as both were involved in last year’s team while both Sexton and Kingston are eligible to play minor again next year.
Cork: C Finn 1-9 (6f), E Murphy 2-0, F Keating 0-5, I Sheehan 0-1.
Clare: L McNamara 0-10 (7f), R Conway, F O’Brien 1-0 each, S McGee, C Kelly (1f) 0-1 each.
Cork: M Lynch (Sarsfields); S O’Keeffe (Ballinora), M Cotter (Aghabullogue), A O’Neill (St Finbarr’s); H Sexton (Kilbrittain/Timoleague), C Kingston (Ballinascarthy), C Dooley (Ballinora); I Sheehan (Ballygarvan), S Hurley (Enniskeane); F Keating (Courcey Rovers), E Murphy (Glen Rovers), C O’Sullivan (Newcestown), C Coleman (Na Piarsaigh), C Finn (Fr O’Neills), E Murphy (Inniscarra). Subs: A Smith (Aghada) for E Murphy (23), L Wallace (Midleton/St Catherines) for C Coleman (51), O Cremen (Blarney) for S Hurley (51), T Sheehan (Enniskeane) for C O’Sullivan (51), L Doyle (Charleville) for A O’Neill (55).
Clare: R Daly; G Ryan, R Minogue (c), M Mescall; A Russell, S Daly, S Ní Cheallaigh; S McGee, C Kelly; E Cahill, G Hickey, L Daly; A Ryan, R Conway, L McNamara. Subs: C Neylon for E Cahill (21), F O’Brien for A Ryan (47), S Lenihan for G Hickey (59).
Referee: G Donegan (Dublin).