Siobhan Hurley scored a dramatic equalising point for Kildare in the final action of the game as the Kildare camogie side got their season up and running with a hard fought draw, writes Ger McNally.
There seemed no way back for Kildare when Denise McGrath netted with six minutes to go to put Westmeath four points clear but Tom O’Mahoney’s side finished brilliantly.
Roisin O’Connell, Susie O’Carroll and Sinead Halstead rattled off quickfire points to leave just one between the teams going into injury time but when O’Carroll put a long range free wide, it seemed that Kildare’s chances of getting a draw were gone.
But, dramatically, there was one last chance for Kildare and Hurley kept her nerve when presented with the ball in front of the posts and she slotted over her sixth point of the game to give Kildare a deserved opening day draw.
It may have been even better for Kildare had they scored from a penalty won by Ciara Tallon in the 43rd minute. The normally ultra reliable O’Carroll stood up to take the penalty but her effort was blocked on the line by Jemma Egan.
That was just one of a number of setbacks that Kildare had to overcome on their way to a draw. A fortuitous Louise O’Connor goal in the seventh minute gave Westmeath a lead that they didn’t relinquish in the first half but there was enough in the Kildare performance in the opening period to give their supporters hope.
Westmeath were finding O’Carroll hard to deal with and they had to move her marker Aisling Conaty to a different player after she picked up a yellow card for persistent fouling on the Celbridge attacker.
O’Carroll may have been Kildare’s best player in the first half but in the second half, it was Hurley who really stood out.
She grabbed the first score after the restart with a monstrous point from just inside the Westmeath 65 and Kildare were level when Maynooth’s Louise Walsh pointed moments later.
Against the run of play, Denise McGrath capitalised on some slack defending to rifle the ball to the back of the net to put the visitors back in charge. Kildare could have retreated into a shell after that setback but points from Hurley, Walsh and O’Carroll kept them in contention.
It then seemed that McGrath had settled the game once and for all when she grabbed her second goal of the game six minutes from time but this Kildare team are made of stern stuff.
Four points in a row gave Kildare a fully merited win with Hurley’s equaliser wildly celebrated on the Kildare sideline and they can now look forward to their next league game against Laois with real confidence.
Brid Byrnes; Niamh Breen, Aoife Trant, Niamh Concannon, Gillian O’Hurley, Carol Nolan, Clodagh Flanagan; Angela Lyons, Louise Walsh 0-2; Fiona Trant, Ciara Tallon, Susie O’Carroll 0-7 (4fs, 1’45), Siobhan Hurley 0-6 (1f), Roisin O’Connell 0-1, Clodagh Farrell. Subs: Cliodhna McSweeney for Farrell, 41; Sinead Halstead 0-1 for Tallon, 57.
Laura Keating; Sarah King, Jemma Egan, Eileen Murphy, Roisin Scally, Dinah Loughlin, Aisling Conaty; Joanne Walsh 0-2, Muireann Scally; Pamela Greville 0-4 (2fs), Louise O’Connor 1-1, Denise McGrath 2-1, Laura Newman, Joanne McCormack, Catriona Murtagh. Subs: Aoife Boyle for McCormack, 41; Maria Smyth for M Scally, 47.