Britain Camogie Intermediate Championship Final
Fullen Gaels 4-13
John Mitchel’s 1-10
By Martin Mannering
At Old Bedians, Manchester
Fullen Gaels made it back-to-back championships with victory over holders John Mitchels at Old Bedians, Manchester.
Junior champions last year, the Manchester side had already enjoyed league success and were gunning for a clean sweep.
Birmingham’s John Mitchel’s were in no mood to relinquish the intermediate title, but they found it very hard going against a rock solid Fullen back line.
They’d also encountered some traffic problems on the way to Manchester and their A game arrived even later.
By the time they found it, Fullen Gaels had racked up an unassailable lead with a power packed first half performance led by the imperious Sarah Fahy.
The Gaels burst from the blocks and were sharper, stronger and focused in every aspect of their play as they set about their task.
Linda McCarthy and Jackie O’Rourke led a resolute defence behind their midfield general, Fahy, and in front of her Edwina King, Aileen Gallagher and Niamh Mulhern made hay.
It was King who opened the scoring with a point in the second minute before turning provider and setting up the advancing O’Rourke for the second.
Aoife Cosgrove and her defensive colleagues found themselves under siege and defended with a combination of heroism and desperation.
They held out for ten minutes before the dam burst when Mulhern latched on to a rebound, when Cosgrove blocked Kim Leahy’s piledriver, and lashed the ball to the net.
Fahy had already nailed their third point and quickly added the fourth before King’s long-range effort deceived Cosgrove and dropped under the bar for the second goal 13 minutes in.
Mitchel’s occasional attacks were proving fruitless due in part to hasty shooting and more so to the tenacity of their opponents in the cover.
Fahy and King had stretched Fullen’s tally to 2-6 before the Birmingham side got on the scoreboard, when Aoife Caulfield pointed and Aoife Murphy landed another after good work by Nuala O’Hagan and Rena Codd.
They were rocked again, though, when Aileen Gallagher found acres of space inside and hit her side’s third goal, and Mulhern was on hand to net again before the break.
Points from Gallagher and King were the response to Mitchel’s third from Murphy to give the Manchester girls a healthy 4-8 to 0-3 half-time lead.
Whatever was said in the Mitchel’s half-time pep talk it certainly had an effect, as they resumed a team transformed.
Aoife Caulfield hit a point in the opening seconds and Murphy went on a sublime solo run, evading several challenges, before blasting the ball past Geri Connolly.
Now they were playing with pride and passion and a fire that was badly missing in the first half.
But when leadership was needed in the Fullen side, player of the match Fahy stood tallest. She steadied the ship with a point before moving back into defence to shore up as Mitchel’s drove forward.
Fahy was pivotal in repelling numerous attacks and her thoughtful clearances regularly found colleagues.
The backdrop of that half-time scoreline somewhat took the gloss of some wonderful camogie in the second period, as Aoife Murphy ran herself to a standstill but couldn’t break through the barriers erected by the home defence.
It was pretty much score for score to the end as Fullen Gaels captured the title with more than a bit to spare.
John Mitchel’s had done remarkably well to reach the final after a slow start to the season and showed, especially in the second half, that they are very much a match for anyone on their day.
For Fullen Gaels, it was the culmination of a phenomenal journey having lifted the junior championship trophy just ten months ago, as well as the mixed league. Now they are intermediate champions, and all achieved without losing a game.
Fullen Gaels: Geri Connolly, Rose McCarthy, Siobhan O Donnell, Una Haren, Linda McCarthy, Aisling Ward, Jackie O Rourke (0-1), Sarah Fahy (0-6, 2f), Kim Leahy, Edwina King (1-4), Aileen Gallagher (1-1), Niamh Mulhern (2-1). Subs: Lizzie Carr for O Rourke, Grainne Madden for Mulhern, Denika Collier for Gallagher.
John Mitchel’s: Aoife Cosgrove, Clare Linnane, Kelly Coakley, Niamh Cahill, Lorraine Moylan, Cait Nee, Lisa Callaghan (0-1), Aoife Murphy (1-4), Nuala O Hagan (0-1), Rena Codd (0-1), Aoife Caulfield (0-3), Eve Dwyer. Subs: Noelle Devlin for Dwyer, Alice Quinn for Nee.