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Dour battle returns title to Kilmaley

Kilmaley 0-7  Sixmilebridge 0-5

THIS was a camogie decider that will be forgotten by purists, aside from jubilant Kilmaley supporters who are this week celebrating their first back-to-back crown.

Sinéad Tuohy pushes through the challenges of Kilmaley’s Sinéad O’Halloran and Emer O’Connor.

It is just as well the Clare camogie roll of honour doesn’t include an account of the quality of finals because this senior A final in Clarecastle on Saturday afternoon never lived up to pre-match expectations.
But that will not unduly bother the Kilmaley management or camogie players who have achieved their objective by retaining the title they captured for the first time last year with this hard-earned two point victory.
Critics may argue the reigning champions should have been far more impressive against a young and inexperienced Sixmilebridge team but ultimately it is the result that counts.
This decider in Clarecastle on Saturday afternoon proved to be a tough, tense, dour low-scoring battle against two evenly-matched teams.
The game never took off in terms of producing open fluent hurling because of the lack of goals and most importantly scores from play.
The most damming statistic is the only point from play came from Kilmaley captain, Emma O’Driscoll, five minutes from the end. All of the rest of Kilmaley’s scores came from full-forward Claire McMahon, who converted one 45’ and five frees.
Sixmilebridge weren’t any better with all of their points coming from the impressive Chloë Morey, who split the posts with one 45’ and four frees.
Kilmaley’s edge in experience, maturity and physical presence helped them to win enough frees to eventually shade the issue.
While there wasn’t any definitive turning point, the loss of Sixmilebridge veteran and captain, Noleen Neylon was arguably a defining moment for the underdogs.
Noleen was forced to retire following an injury to her left knee in the 16th minute and her leadership qualities were certainly missed when the ‘Bridge tried hard to score a goal in the second half.
A goal would have really ignited the ‘Bridge challenge and would have seriously rattled Kilmaley, who had the luxury of registering eight wides in total compared to their opponent’s two.
As the game wore on, the ‘Bridge looked less likely to raise a green flag against the watertight Kilmaley defence where Denise Lynch excelled at full-back and she got good support from Eimear Considine, Aida Griffey and Lorna Higgins in an impressive half-back line.
Kilmaley could have enjoyed a more convincing victory if they had taken even one of the two goal-scoring chances they created in the first quarter.
Katie Cahill had the first chance in the fourth minute but blazed the sliothar across the goals and wide. She turned provider with a defence-splitting delivery in between Claire McMcMahon and Maria Hehir in the full-forward line before it spun over the line and wide.
Aided by a strong breeze, the ‘Bridge were anxious to build up a half-time cushion but struggled up front despite the hard work of midfielder, Ann Sweeney and Bridget O’Halloran.
Claire McMahon put Kilmaley in front by converting a 45’ but this was cancelled out a few minutes later when Chloë Morey split the posts from a placed ball.
The talented ‘Bridge midfielder put her side in front by converting a 50 metre free before Kilmaley hit back with two converted Claire McMahon frees in the 13th and 17th minutes.
Nine minutes before the interval, Morey converted another free to tie up the proceedings at 0-3 apiece and that’s how it remained at the break.
The ‘Bridge had a goal opportunity just before the break but Sinéad Costelloe’s shot was blocked by Edel Griffey and cleared to safety by Denise Lynch.
After the change of ends, the first 13 minutes were scoreless until Claire McMahon edged her colleagues in front by pointing a free. The ‘Bridge mentors kept reshuffling their front six in an effort to send in more deliveries to their full-forward line who were starved of possession.
Kilmaley edged two points ahead at the three-quarter way stage when Claire McMahon split the posts before Morey did likewise at the other end six minutes later.
Five minutes from the end, Emma O’Driscoll restored Kilmaley’s two-point advantage before a Kilmaley goal following a Claire McMahon free was disallowed as there was a Kilmaley player inside the square.
The ‘Bridge battled bravely and were rewarded when Chloë Morey left just a single point between the sides by converting a great free until pressure three minutes from the end.
A minute later, Claire McMahon eased Kilmaley’s nerves in a nail-biting finish with a well-taken point from a placed ball to seal their two-point victory.
Camogie board chairperson, Orla Considine presented the cup to the victorious Kilmaley captain, Emma O’Driscoll.
Orla described the final as a very “tight match” where both sides worked extremely hard and “not an inch” was conceded by the two defences who were on top.
She predicted the youthful Sixmilebridge team will challenge for senior honours again over the coming years.

Kilmaley: Edel Griffey; Sinéad O’Halloran, Denise Lynch, Sarah Reidy; Aida Griffey, Eimear Considine, Lorna Higgins; Helena McMahon, Emer O’Connor; Shonagh Enright, Emma O’Driscoll, Siobhán Maher; Katie Cahill, Claire McMahon, Maria Hehir.
Sub: Ashling Darcy (42 mins) for Maria Hehir.
Scorers: Claire McMahon (0-6, five frees and one 45’), Emma O’Driscoll (0-1).
Frees for: 13; Wides: 8; 45s: 3.
Sixmilebridge: Áine McNamara; Ann Sweeney, Daneyna Shanahan, Orla Chaplin; Ciara Whelan, Bridget O’Halloran, Aiveen O’Shea; Niamh Corry, Chloë Morey; Sinéad Costelloe, Bernadette Crowe, Shauna Chaplin; Rachel O’Halloran, Noeleen Neylon, Sinéead Tuohy.
Scorers: Chloë Morey (0-5, four frees and one 45’).
Subs: Cait Early (16 mins) for Noeleen Neylon, injured, Jean Chaplin (38 mins) for Shauna Chaplin, Orla Fitzgerald (53 mins) for Bernadette Crowe, Katie Connors (56 mins) for Orla Chaplin, Mairéad Hyland (58 mins) for Cait Early.
Frees for: 10; Wides: 2; 45s: 1.
Referee: Kevin Walsh (Wolfe Tones).

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