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20th Feb 2022

St Rynaghs do the double on Gailltír as Galway and Tipp cruise home


Compiled by Daragh Ó Conchúir 

First to the inter-county scene.

Tipperary have absolutely flown from the traps at the beginning of the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie League and last year’s Division 1 semi-finalists brought their tally to 7-37 from two games with 4-21 to 1-5 defeat of Offaly at the Shamrock GAA grounds in Mucklagh.

That means Bill Mullaney’s charges have only conceded 1-8 in the 130-plus minutes or so of action and if they will know that there are tougher challenges to come than an understrength Down and Offaly, both without a substantial Portaferry and St Rynagh’s cohort, they are short a number of elite players themselves in Karen Kennedy, Orla O’Dwyer and Caoimhe Bourke.

They are clearly building real competition for places however, as they look to challenge for silverware in 2022 after a sustained period of progress in the last five years.

To put their dominance in perspective, they only scored six points in the second half, with Offaly adding three, and though the hosts certainly contributed the more even second half, there was a clear drop in intensity from women in blue and gold.

Up to then, they had been unstoppable, Róisín Howard so influential and Caoimhe Maher an industrious presence around the middle. That enabled the attack to make hay, with Caoimhe McCarthy and Clare Hogan among those to impress.

The duo had a goal each and Clodagh McIntyre rattled the onion sack too as Tipperary took on the role of enforcers inside the opening 13 minutes. Orla Gorman did breach the visitors’ defence before the break and Offaly did show plenty of character in the second half that gives them something to work with but Tipperary look like a team that mean business.

Also in Group 1, All-Ireland champions Galway got their campaign under way with a 1-15 to 0-6 defeat of a Dublin side that showed plenty before giving way at Round Towers GAA in Clondalkin.

Cathal Murray was without his sizeable Sarsfields contingent but he has used the League to allow newcomers establish themselves in the side over the past few years and sprinkled some less experienced operators with a slew of All-Stars for the trip to the capital.

Dublin were in touching distance, however, trailing by just 1-9 to 0-5 until Jody Couch was given her marching orders for a second yellow card offence, nine minutes into the second half. They fought valiantly for most of the rest of the affair but it was no surprise that they would begin to tire as a result, and O’Reilly hit the game’s last four points to make it look slightly more comfortable than it might have been.

It was 1-7 to 0-4 at half-time, the teams having split the opening six points before Aoife Donohue’s 16th minute goal. Carrie Dolan, O’Reilly, Rebecca Hennelly and Catherine Finnerty raised white flags, while Aisling O’Neill, Aisling Maher and Sinéád Lohan were on the mark for the Adrian O’Sullivan’s crew.

O’Neill had replied to points from Finnerty and Áine Keane when Couch was sent off and it was always an uphill battle from there for the doughty Dubs.

In Division 2, a late goal from Róisín McCormick gave Antrim their second set of points in Group 3 by virtue of a 1-12 to 1-8 defeat of Galway in Portglenone.

Méadhbh Laverty, Siobhán McKillop and Caoimhe Wright were not even on the Saffrons panel last year, but the trio contributed seven points to a successful outing on this occasion.

Galway scored a goal through Tara Rutledge and Katie Gilchrist added a point in the couple of minutes before the short whistle to claw the visitors back into the game, trailing by just 1-7 to 0-3 and they hit the front after the restart.

Áine Magill and McCormick edged Antrim ahead once more however with Gilchrist pointing a free in reply to leave the game finely balanced over the last five minutes, until McCormick’s goal killed it off.

Meanwhile Derry, without the Slaughtneil or Eoghan Rua players involved in All-Ireland club games, fell to a second defeat, this time a double-scores loss to Wexford at Owenbeg. Wexford, who play in the senior championship, were ahead by 0-10 to 0-5 at the break and went on to record a 2-20 to 1-10 victory.

In the same group, Cork had a 4-16 to 2-6 over Kildare at Hawkfield and that means that Derry need to beat Kildare this coming weekend to avoid a relegation dogfight at the end of next month.

Next, to the club scene.

An unstoppable goal from a penalty by Róisín Egan, early in the final quarter was the differential as St Rynagh’s confirmed their marginal superiority over Gailltír with a 2-11 to 1-11 victory in the AIB All-Ireland intermediate club camogie semi-final at Éire Óg Nenagh.

The sides have enjoyed a wonderful rivalry in recent years, with Gailltír beating Rynagh’s in an All-Ireland final before the Offaly women exacted revenge in the 2020 decider played in December and repeated the trick to book their spot in this year’s decider.

The penalty was awarded after a foul on Siobhán Flannery by Hannah Flynn, just a minute after Flannery had rifled a first-time shot of the sod inches wide when a goal seemed certain.

This time, her contribution did lead to a green flag, though Egan’s shot had to be inch-perfect and a bullet with that, as it hit the top corner to Ciara Jackman’s right, the ‘keeper almost getting her hurley to it.

Egan was monumental throughout, along with Kate Kenny and Flannery, and Kenny followed up quickly with a stupendous score, her fifth point. Within minutes of being level, Gailltír would go five down.

The gap went to five but they got it back to two, Molly Comerford and Annie Fitzgerald splitting the posts. Flannery landed a monstrous point with the last puck from a free and it was the Faithful women that progressed.

Gailltír started ideally with a sixth minute goal from the exciting Alannah O’Sullivan, who was alert to pounce when St Rynagh’s goalie Ellen Gilligan, a hero of the All-Ireland final, was caught advancing too far under Kate Lynch’s delivery and could only bat it up into the air. O’Sullivan was in like a flash to bat the sliotar to the net.

Crucially, St Rynagh’s responded in kind inside 60 seconds, when Linda Sullivan dispossessed Jackman as the netminder attempted to gather the sliotar following a brilliant run by Emma Corcoran, and was able to finish to an empty net.

It was nip and tuck from there until the penalty, as Kenny and Aoife Fitzgerald exchanged points, while Laoise Forrest stood out for Gailltír with three points from play. But once Egan billowed the net, the Offaly girls were clear and that was the margin in the end. The champions must now wait to see who will stand in the way of promotion to the senior ranks at All-Ireland level, as Portaferry (Down) and Salthill-Knocknacarra cross swords in Abbotstown today/tomorrow (Sunday).

An early goal by joint captain Emma McAliskey propelled Derrylaughan Kevin Barrys to the AIB All-Ireland junior B decider, as a result of a hard-fought 1-5 to 0-6 triumph over Oran. The Red Hand representatives held the whip hand for the majority of proceedings as a result of that strike but they had to withstand a gutsy comeback from their Roscommon opposition.

Claire Curley and Caitriona Regan chipped away at the deficit before Orla Connolly brought the sides level from a 45 but Derrylaughan’s response was impressive as Elisha Gervin split the posts twice late on to book the final berth.

They will play Knockananna in the decider, after the Wicklow champs proved far too strong for London outfit Fullen Gaels, prevailing by 2-15 to 1-2 in Abbotstown. Knockananna fell just short in last season’s decider played the week before Christmas, when another Tyrone team, Naomh Treasa edged them out and their motivation was very much in evidence as they eased clear.

The senior semi-final between old rivals Sarsfields (Galway) and Slaughtneill (Derry) was one of a number of games that fell foul of the havoc played by the weather on pitches but it is now scheduled to take place in Gorey today/tomorrow (Sunday) at 2pm.

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