By Damian Dolan
Wales’ first-ever camogie club, De Cymru, made more history on Saturday in Greenford as they were crowned junior British champions.
De Cymru defeated London’s Tara by 4-10 to 1-6 in the final.
It was a truly momentous day for the fledging club, only formed last summer, and the Welsh side now has some silverware to cap a very memorable first competitive season.
The celebrations told the story.
“When we started off, there was only two or three of us, and now look at us. It’s grown and grown, and it’s so good to see,” said De Cymru joint captain Caoimhe Condon.
“We’re like a family now, and it’s the best team I’ve ever been part of.”
A first half hat-trick from star player, Condon, coupled with a goal from Anna Shannon, laid the foundation for Kyle Doyle’s side’s victory.
It gave them a 4-6 to 1-4 half-time lead that they never really looked in danger of surrendering, despite Tara battling to the very end in their quest for a first junior title since 2014.
Condon had the ball in the Tara net straight from the throw in – her long-range effort evading Dee Ryan with just 13 seconds gone.
The Tara goal was coming under immense pressure. Kathleen O’Keeffe produced an excellent block to deny Condon, and then Emma Sanders flashed a shot across goal, with Nicole Williams unable to get the vital touch with the net gapping.
The excellent Emma Hogan got Tara on the board, only for Condon to cut inside two Tara defenders before arrowing a stunning strike to the net for her second goal.
Joni Traynor steadied the Tara ship with a brace of frees, but Condon completed her hat-trick with a low shot through a crowd of bodies. De Cymru led 3-1 to 0-3.
Condon, Anna Shannon, Cora Hogan and Sanders were all starring for the Welsh side.
Sanders added goal number four when she pulled on a ground ball, despite Ryan getting a piece of it.
Only a brilliant reaction save from Ryan then prevented Anna Shannon from adding a fifth goal. Condon, however, knocked over the resulting 30.
A brace from Cora Hogan extended the De Cymru lead to 4-6 to 0-4, but with almost the last puck of the half, Traynor’s free found the net via the stick of Rose McCarthy.
That made it 4-6 to 1-4 at half-time, and the Londoners had a lifeline.
A freescoring first half would give way to gritty second period, as Tara tried to battle their way back into the game, while De Cymru fought to keep the door firmly shut.
Scores from Condon (2) and Anna Shannon gave the Welsh side the start to the second half they wanted to increase the gap even further.
A couple of defiant points from the impressive Aoife O’Meara sandwiched a stunning save from Ryan, who stared down a ferocious strike from Condon to turn the ball away.
At the other end, Tara couldn’t fashion the goal chances they needed if they were to seriously eat into their opponents lead.
Orla Hillary came as close anyone in white and blue to raising a green flag, as Tara threw the proverbial kitchen sink at De Cymru, only for Emily Mulcair to block. It was Tara’s last chance.
De Cymru’s title then as the girls from Wales came, saw and conquered.
Intermediate will be a step up next year, but they look more than capable of being very competitive.
De Cymru: Rose MaCarthy; Emily Mulcair, Gemma Moreland; Amy O’Halloran, Elise Cafolla; Elsa Harte, Dianaimh Greene, Emma Sanders (1-0); Cora Hogan (0-3), Anna Shannon (0-4, 2f); Nicole Williams, Caoimhe Condon (3-3, 1’30). Subs: Auveen Shannon for Williams, Orlagh Cottier for Hogan, Claire Bruce for Condon, Rhiannon for Sanders, Maebh Johnston for Anna Shannon.
Tara: Dee Ryan; Rebekah Tunstead, Mary Desmond; Kathleen O’Keeffe, Joni Traynor (1-2f); Aoife O’Meara (0-2), Zoe McShane, Ciara McCarthy; Cara McCanny, Meghan McGuire (0-1); Emma Hogan (0-1), Lisa Fox. Subs: Orla Hillary for McCanny.
Referee: Beano Collins.