By Seamus Hayes
St Flannan’s 2-4 Presentation, Kilkenny 1-5
There were a number of outstanding individual displays in an all round impressive team performance as St Flannan’s qualified for a first ever All-Ireland senior camogie final appearance when overcoming Presentation from Kilkenny at Clarecastle on Thursday afternoon.
In the final they will play Seamount, Kinvara or Magherafelt from Derry, who replay their semi-final this weekend.[doptg id=”47″]In Thursday’s replay, the Ennis school laid the foundations for the victory with a superb defensive display. Aoife Keane was outstanding at centre-back, while the full-back trio of Aleisha Malone, Emma O’Connell and Carol Browne also excelled. The decision to deploy corner-forward Laoise Ryan in a sweeper role was also a key factor for the Ennis team.
Elsewhere, Sinead Quinn and Aoibheann Malone excelled and caused huge problems for the visitors.
In very cold conditions, a swirling wind made matters more difficult for the players and it was clear from an early stage that scores would be difficult to come by.
St Flannan’s adapted to these conditions better in the opening half and midfielder Sinead Quinn gave them a lead they would hold throughout the game, when she converted a 35m free after eight minutes. Zoe McInerney had the game’s first score from play at the midpoint of the half and these were the only scores of the opening period as the half-time whistle approached.
With a minute to go to half time, St Flannan’s followers in the big crowd got good reason to cheer when midfielder Louise Browne broke through and her shot from 25m dipped past the visitor’s goalie Aoife Walsh and into the top corner of the net, to give the Ennis school a 1-2 to 0-0 lead at the interval.
From the resumption of play, the visitors made it clear that they were not going to go down without a fight and Jenny O’Neill had their opening score when she converted a free in the first minute. Sinead Quinn responded with a like effort for the home side and points were exchanged again before the tenth minute.
As the midpoint of the half approached, St Flannan’s struck a major blow when substitute Amy Wiley goaled after a Sinead Quinn shot had been saved. The score put the winners eight points clear but from here to the finish they had to put in some heroic defending as Presentation threw everything at them.
Points from Jenny O’Neill, Eadaoin Murphy and Eimear Donnelly cut the winners lead to five points with eight minutes to play. Presentation were awarded a penalty two minutes later and after Eadaoinn Murphy’s effort rebounded off the crossbar, Doireann Murphy in the St Flannan’s goal made a great save and this was followed by another from full-back Emma O’Connell.
Presentation finally got in for a goal, three minutes from time, when Ciara Phelan scored to cut the deficit to two but St Flannan’s dominated the remaining exchanges and were on the attack when the final whistle sounded in the third minute of injury time.
St Flannan’s: Doireann Murphy (Clarecastle); Aleisha Malone (Corofin) Emma O’Connell (Ballyea) Carol Browne (Ballyea); Chloe Devitt (Ballyea), Aoife Keane (Inagh-Kilnamona) Laura Brown (Éire Óg); Sinead Quinn (Inagh-Kilnamona) 0-2, Louise Brown (Corofin) 1-0; Aoife Lauren McGuane (Kilmaley), Zoe McInerney (Wolfe Tones), Aoibheann Malone (Corofin); Laoise Ryan (Inagh-Kilnamona), Claire Taaffe (Killanena) Amy O’Brien (Corofin).
Sub: Amy Wiley (Clarecastle) 1-0 for Taaffe.