In what was a must win situation the Kildare junior camogie team saw off the challenge of old rivals Armagh in Celbridge on Saturday 3-8 to 0-12, and, in doing so ensured qualification for the semi final of the All Ireland Premier Junior Championship, writes Dermot Breen.
Kildare started off very brightly with two points from frees by Susie O’Carroll and a point from Siobhan Hurley to lead by three after ten minutes. Collette McSorley pulled one back for Armagh with the first of her nine points from frees. However two minutes later O’Carroll took possession from a Hurley free and from a narrow angle finished to the Armagh net.
This was midway through the half but it was Armagh who would finish the half much the better. Driven on by centre back Laura Brunton Armagh began to exert a lot of pressure and they scored six points without reply, three from McSorley frees, two by Orla Cairns and a single from Ciara Donnelly to move into a one point lead coming up to half time.
Hurley’s injury time point levelled the scores at half time Kildare 1-4, Armagh 0-7.
O’Carroll and McSorley exchanged points in the first minutes of the second but Kildare pulled two points clear with an O Carroll point from a free and a point by Clionadh McSweeney.
A turning point came in the tenth minute when Angela Lyons won possession at midfield and her strong run took her through the overstretched Armagh de-fence where she passed to the unmarked O’Carroll who completed the run and again gave Armagh goalie Bronagh Moen no chance to move Kildare into a five point lead after ten minutes.
Armagh, however, had not gone away but for all their pressure the Kildare rearguard led by Carol Nolan denied them the major that they would need to mount a serious late challenge. McSorley pulled one point back from a free in the fifteenth minute but a minute later the result was put beyond doubt when McSweeney found herself one on one with the Armagh goalie and held her nerve to lob the ball over the advancing Moen to the net.
Hurley added another point in the twenty second minute. Just like in the first half Armagh finished strongly and created some scary situations in the Kildare goal area, pulling back three points from McSorley frees to leave it a five point game as full time approached to ensure that the Kildare supporters would have to endure a nervous five minutes of injury time as Armagh tried everything to pull the game out of the fire but Kildare were not to be denied at that late juncture and came through 3-8 to 0-12 winners.
The win ensures Kildare a place in the All Ireland semi final but with one round to go the final pecking order has yet to be determined.
Kildare manager Tom O Mahoney commented “We are delighted to be assured of a semi final spot. This was a nervous game for us as both teams really had to win today and there has never been much between ourselves and Armagh. As usual the players showed great heart and determination to come back strongly in the second half after losing a five point lead coming up to half time.
“We created good space for our goals and they were all finished very well. Our defence stood up well but with most of the Armagh scores coming from frees we would need to work on our discipline. We have to travel to Meath next week and as they top the table it will be another huge challenge but we are happy to be where we are at the moment and we are looking forward to the challenge.’’
Next up for Kildare is Meath on Saturday next 4th August at a Meath venue and time to be arranged. This match and results elsewhere will determine the semi ginal pairings.
Brid Byrnes, Niamh Breen, Aoife Trant, Jane O Donoghue, Fiona Trant, Carol Nolan, Gillian O’Hurley, Clodagh Flanagan, Orla Bambury, Louise Keatley, Angela Lyons, Susie O’Carroll (2-4 3F) Cliodhna McSweeney (1-1), Siobhan Hurley (0-3), Clodagh Flanagan, Tanya Johnson, Roisin O’Connell, Louise Walsh, Niamh Concannon, Elaine McNamara, CiaraTallon.
Meanwhile Co. Armagh got retribution of a sort when they ended Kildare’s interest in the U16 All Ireland Championship with a 3-14 to 2-7 victory in Madden on Sunday.