Britain Camogie Senior Championship Final
By Damian Dolan
At McGovern Park, Ruislip
Tara Camogie made it ten senior titles in a row to advance to an All-Ireland club quarter-final with Roscommon’s Four Roads on Sunday (Greenford, 2pm).
The build-up had been dominated by the clash of provincial hurling and football finals dates, so it was a welcome distraction for events on the pitch to take centre stage from the wranglings off it.
And given the backdrop, fair play to both for serving up an entertaining finale to the senior championship season, and one which remained in the melting pot until two minutes from normal time.
Lucy Hawkes’ then drilled home a free to give Tara a 1-8 to 1-1 lead and that was the trigger for the floodgates to open, as Croydon’s gritty resistance was finally broken.
A minute later Niamh Gaff found a way past Aisleen Sheehan at the second attempt, after the Croydon ‘keeper had produced a good initial save.
Helen Murphy added a point and Tara had one hand on the cup.
Tara make it 10 in a row!!
At McGovern Park, Ruislip pic.twitter.com/LVYPEss6yQ
— the Irish World (@theirishworld) October 13, 2018
The barrage continued and some nice play sent Fiona Morrissey clear. She cut inside only to see her effort come back off the post.
But Croydon couldn’t alleviate the pressure and Claire Enright forced home goal number three to round off a whirlwind Tara spell of 3-1 in the space of three minutes.
It was tough on Croydon who’d battled gamely in this final, while being on the back foot for much of it.
The last act of this final saw Leigh Anne McMahon pick out Aisling Murray with a peach of a ball, and the corner forward arrowed a shot into the far corner of the Tara net. A defiant gesture, but ultimately little more than a consolation.
The flurry of late goals was in sharp contrast to the tight nature of the first half. It was Croydon who actually struck first blood through the skilful Alison Coughlan.
Tara hit back with scores from Saoirse Glynn and Orlaith Jennings – both from the left hand side where Tara were getting some joy.
Scores were hard earned, but Tara slowly began to open up a concerning gap over Croydon, through midfielders Niamh Gaff and Tessa Crowley.
An inspired switch saw Claire Ryan introduced and her first contribution was to knock over a free. Ryan would have a fine game.
After Croydon’s bright start, Tara had slowly taken control with Emer Kelly and Fiona Morrissey and their fellow backs giving Croydon’s forwards nothing.
But Croydon were given a lifeline when a free into the square slipped through Stephanie Regan’s fingers, and Coughlan tapped the ball into an empty net.
Croydon, searching for a first senior title since 2005, went in at the break with a spring in their step and trailing by just a point, 0-5 to 1-1.
Tara were soon back on top upon the restart. Crowley opened the second half scoring, while Croydon were fortuitous to survive when Aisleen Sheehan could only bat down a free in across the face of her own goal. Croydon survived the ensuing scramble.
Glynn’s determination won a free which Ryan despatched and Tara led by 0-7 to 1-1 as the game went into the final quarter.
Croydon were then dealt a blow when full back Ciara Keogh was forced off and with seven minutes to go, Hawkes knocked over the ‘insurance point’ to give Tara a four-point advantage.
The floodgates then opened somewhat, as Croydon’s spirited resistance was ended. The defeat was their third in a row at the hands of Tara in this final, and was a tough one to take.
For Tara, an extraordinary tenth title in a row.
Britain Camogie chairperson Suzanne White presented the cup to Tara captain Sarah McNicholl.
Tara: Stephanie Regan; Lisa Creamer, Clare Killeen, Emer Kelly; Kathleen O’Keefe, Fiona Morrissey, Aoife O’Meara; Niamh Gaff (1-1), Tessa Crowley (0-2); Joni Traynor, Lucy Hawkes (1-1, 1f), Eilish O’Neill; Saoirse Glynn (0-1), Orlaith Jennings (0-1), Helen Murphy (0-1). Subs: Clare Ryan (0-2f) for O’Neill, Sarah McNicholl for Jennings, Emma McKenna for Killeen, Claire Enright (1-0) for O’Keefe, Lisa Fox for Glynn.
Croydon: Aisleen Sheehan; Emma Sheehan, Ciara Keogh, Sarah McGovern; Eithne Moran, Caoilinn Ni Neill, Rachael Callanan; Denise Sinclair, Kathy O’Regan; Leigh Anne McMahon, Alison Coughlan (1-1), Bridget Hehir; Esther Power, Angela Kerr, Aisling Murray (1-0). Subs: Aoife O’Neill for Keogh.
Referee: Eddie Naughton.