Nenagh Éire Óg capped off a wonderful season for the Blues when the junior A Camogie team beat Toomevara by a single point after a titanic struggle in a county final played at The Ragg on Saturday afternoon.
Junior A Camogie Final
Nenagh Éire Óg 0-9 Toomevara 1-5
In 2001 the Nenagh Éire Óg Camogie club was first established and later that year we fielded an under-12 side which shipped many trimmings along the way from the more established clubs. It was a steep learning curve and the players would have been forgiven for throwing in the towel early on.
Conor O’Donovan recalled one particular game against Holycross when we were getting destroyed at half-time. He gave the girls one job for the second half, they were to get a score. The players tried and tried and even managed to hit the crossbar before they eventually managed to scramble a goal in the dying minutes and while it barely made a dent on Holycross’ lead it was celebrated like a match-winning score. Those who were present that day would have sent for the men in white coats if you were to tell them that just fourteen years later we would have captured league and championship titles at both junior B (2013) and junior A.
On Saturday afternoon our junior A side reached that milestone when we defeated neighbours Toomevara in the county final 0-9 to 1-5. These two clubs have provided many memorable matches in hurling over the decades and today it was the ladies turn to add to that great tradition.
The first half was a tough affair dominated by both sets of backs which was reflected in the half-time score of Toomevara 0-3 Nenagh Éire Óg 0-2.
Nenagh opened brightly and Maeve Coffey settled any nerves we might have had with an early point from an acute angle on the right hand side in the 2nd minute. It took Toomevara ten minutes to level proceedings following a fine pointed free.
Nenagh’s best goal chance arrived in the 14th minute when Grace O’Brien found herself one-on-one with the goalkeeper however she was without her hurley and her kicked effort was brilliantly saved before the rebound broke to her sister Holly whose shot from a tight angle blasted against the side netting. It was the closest Nenagh were to get to a goal which was a testament to the quality of back play from Toomevara.
The Greyhounds took a slender one-point advantage four minutes later which was cancelled out by Ciara McGrath after a superb run up the wing from Ruth Hassett. With just five minutes remaining Toomevara scored the final point of the half from a free.
Wing-forward Grace O’Brien landed three monster frees within ten minutes of the resumption to lift the Éire Óg spirits and put the Blues two points ahead and from here it looked as if Nenagh might pull away, but Toomevara are an experienced outfit having fielded in the senior grade up to recently and were not about to lie down. They pointed in the 42nd minute and pilled on huge pressure on our backs, but the Éire Óg defence held out admirably and cleared ball after ball.
Alanna Morris, playing wing-back, collected a Toomevara puck-out and drove forward in her usual determined fashion and pointed an inspirational score midway through the half to open the lead back out to two points.
Toomevara pointed with eight minutes remaining, but rather than seize the initiative it was the Blues who surged forward and pointed three on the trot to open a four-point lead. A Grace O’Brien free was quickly followed up with a fine point after a great pass from Alicia Hallinan. Louise Hickey was fouled and O’Brien was on hand again to split the posts from the free.
Toomevara pilled forward and were rewarded with a goal, but with resolute determination Nenagh held out for a famous victory.
While the win meant a great deal to all involved it must have been extra special for both Aileen Duggan and Ciara McGrath. Both girls were there from the start when we first fielded an adult team in 2010 and were, on one occasion, on the receiving end of a 48-point defeat. They refused to give in and kept playing with a determination throughout the years and were rewarded for their dedication.
Another lady who deserves a special mention is full-back Rachel Maher. Suspended today following an incident in the semi-final the entire panel were determined to win as a thank you for all the great games she played throughout the year. There is no doubt that we would not have won the league or championship double without her commanding performances on the edge of the square and everyone was delighted for her at the full-time whistle.
There’s an old saying that an ounce of breeding is worth a tonne of feeding and that is certainly the case for the player of the match Ruth Hassett. Ruth is a granddaughter of All-Ireland-winning captain Matt Hassett – he would have been bursting with pride watching her time and again thwart the Toomevara attack and emerge with the ball to relieve the pressure. She has had a fine year hurling wing-back and brought that level of performance to the field today.
For a video of the celebrations and the presentation ceremony please click here.
Nenagh Éire Óg: Sarah Quigley, Kara Ryan-Mulqueen, Aileen Duggan, Emer Ryan, Alanna Morris (0-1), Hazel McAuliffe, Ruth Hassett, Michelle Collins, Ciara McGrath (captain, 0-1), Alicia Hallinan, Aislinn O’Brien, Grace O’Brien (0-6), Holly O’Brien, Louise Hickey, Maeve Coffey (0-1). Subs: Zoey Gratton for Holly O’Brien.
Referee: John Lillis (Drom & Inch).
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