ALL- BRITAIN INTERMEDIATE CAMOGIE FINAL
Father Murphy’s do it the hard way
By David Hennessy, at Greenford
It would take extra-time for them to do it but Father Murphy’s overcame Tara to become intermediate champions of Britain at Greenford on Saturday 30 July.
Having started slow, Murphy’s would have to overturn a 0-1 to 1-4 half-time score-line but played like absolute demons in a second half that saw them score 2-6 without reply after the re-start.
Although Tara would force extra-time with a late goal, Father Murphy’s would be ruthless enough to not let them back into it again.
It would be Tara who would open the scoring through Cora McEvoy from a free.
Cora would soon add another with a good score from play. With everything going through her, Cora McEvoy looked dangerous every time she got on the ball and would then score the first goal of the game.
When Cora floated in a free, it looked like it was going over the bar only to drop into the top corner of the net. Whether it was intended or not, Cora had fired Tara into a 1-2 to no score lead with only five minutes played.
Father Murphy’s looked to respond and it would be Aoife McCarthy who would open their account with a calmly taken point that came after a goalmouth scramble.
But Tara were still in free flow and Eleanor Harrison would find Aoife O’Meara who would run and point.
But McEvoy herself would have the last word of the first half with a free from the midfield area.
While Father Murphy’s were beginning to threaten, they weren’t quite threatening the Tara goal or troubling the scoreboard. Aoife McCarthy would force a save from Rachel Mulryan in the Tara goal but that would be as close as they would come in the first period with Tara bringing a 1-4 to 0-1 lead in at half-time.
However, if it was mostly one-way traffic in the first half, Father Murphy’s would come out looking like a different team in the second half.
Straight from the restart, Caitriona O’Brien would put a free in for Aoife McCarthy to strike for a well taken goal.
McCarthy would add a point just moments later. Murphy’s only trailed by two now. They were back in it and all of a sudden they were winning every ball.
Laura Cleary would level things up with a brace of points, the second being an excellent score where she proved just too hard for Tara to stop her on the solo run.
With roughly eight minutes of the second half played, the teams were now tied on 1-4 apiece and Tara had yet to score since the break.
Father Murphy’s would go ahead for the first time through Aoife McCarthy again, Caitriona O’Brien would add to this despite Tara’s best efforts to clear the ball.
Father Murpy’s led by two when Michelle Mangan spent some time down after taking a strike to the head. Although it was feared she may not be able to continue, Michelle was able to carry on.
Caitriona O’Brien would stretch Murphys’ lead to three with a brace of frees.
And O’Brien would soon strike again but not for just a single point. When O’Brien put another free into the danger zone from far out on the wing, it wasn’t dealt with and ended up in the net.
With little more than fifteen minutes to play, Father Murphy’s led by 2-7 to 1-4 and Tara, who were so in control at half-time, still had to score since the break.
But that woman Cora McEvoy would see to that with another long range free that dropped just under the bar. It was very like her first half goal and you had to wonder if it was intended but it had brought Tara back into the game.
Cora would cut the deficit further still with a close range free. Tara now only trailed by two points.
Caitriona O’Brien would supply Aoife McCarthy to stretch the Murphy’s lead to three again.
With time running out, Tara knew they needed a goal and pushed for it to be rewarded with a dramatic last gasp Emma Hogan goal.
With the scores 2-8 to Father Murphy’s and 3-5 to Tara at the final whistle, we were set for extra-time.
Heading into the first period of extra-time, Caitriona O’Brien would make no mistake with a free to restore Father Murphys’ lead.
Aoife McCarthy would then produce a good score to stretch that lead to two.
These would be the only two scores of the first half.
Tara continued to struggle to score as the extra-time wore on.
As time ticked away, Laura Cleary’s score for Murphy’s would be the only additional point. Murphy’s led by three again and Tara found themselves in the same position they were in near the end of normal time: They needed a goal.
Cora McEvoy would have an attempt but see her shot stopped by Caitriona Donnellan in the Father Murphy’s goal, the co- captain and leader who would make sure there was no escape for Tara this time.
When the final whistle blew after extra-time, there was an outpouring of emotion from all involved with Father Murphy’s.
They had done it the hard way, but they had done it.
There were some excellent performances from individuals but it was a team effort that dragged them back into it. Knowing they underperformed at the start, they came out like a different team in the second half and even Tara’s late equalizer could not shake them then.
By contrast, Tara will be disappointed they could not maintain their excellent start or drive on having pulled off what could have been something of a great escape by forcing extra-time.
Father Murphy’s will now go on to represent Great Britain in the All- Ireland.
Father Murphy’s co- captain Caitriona Donnellan told The Irish World after the match: “We’re elated.
“That was such a hard game and we started so badly.
“We just about hung on for that first half and (then) we came alive.”
Father Murphy’s goal scorer Caitriona O’Brien added: “Darren (Howlin, manager)’s speech at half-time really changed the game.
“He gave us some home truths and that’s what you need because it’s hurling and camogie at the end of the day.”
Caitriona Donnellan continued: “We knew what we had to do in the second half.”
Laura Cleary added: “Even at the end of the game when that goal went in, we could have easily let the heads drop but we came out in extra-time fighting like dogs.
“We just kept going.
“We knew we could do it.”
Father Murphy’s co- captain Aisling Dunphy said: “It wasn’t just the 15, it’s a panel.
“That’s what we had this year that we didn’t have other years.
“Who’s ever won an All- Britain final and not been happy girls?”
Laura Cleary, who scored the point that levelled things for Murphy’s having trailed by so much, added: “It’s only the start.”
Father Murphy’s: Caitriona Donnellan, Caitriona O’Brien (1-3, 3F), Aisling Dunphy, Grainne Waters, Bernice Kealey, Michelle Mangan, Aoife McCarthy (1-5), Laura Cleary (0-3), Moira O’ Flaherty, Siobhan Condon, Kelly Devine, Lauren Kearns, Sarah Costello. Subs: Brenda Kerr for Bernice Kealey, Aisling Murphy for Lauren Kearns, Laura Fitzgerald for Kelly Devine.
Tara: Rachel Mulryan, Claire Flynn, Emer Kelly, Joni Traynor, Mary Desmond, Shannon McPartland, Eleanor Harrison, Aoife O’Meara (0-1), Sarah Crowley, Cora McEvoy (2-4, 5F), Emma Hogan (1-0), Rachel Barry, Megan McGuire.