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Monday 16 December 2019

Martin's lose Leinster crown

Camogie, AIB Leinster Club Senior Championship Final replay: St Vincent's 2-11 St Martin's 2-9

Sarah O’Connor of St. Martin’s tries to flick the ball away from Deirdre Johnstone (St. Vincent’s)
Sarah O’Connor of St. Martin’s tries to flick the ball away from Deirdre Johnstone (St. Vincent’s)

Dean Goodison in IT Carlow

St Martin's defence of their AIB Leinster Senior Club camogie championship title came to a disappointing end as they lost to St. Vincent's in the final replay at the Institute of Technology, Carlow, on Sunday.

While the initial feeling will be about what might have been, there can't really be any arguments regarding the end result. The Dublin club upped the ante in the second-half, and there were times when St. Martin's were just about holding on.

It wasn't the Wexford champions' best performance, far from it, but maybe that's to be expected after a 2018 season that leaked deep into 2019.

By and large it's a young group of St. Martin's players, and a replay was evidently a bridge too far after a hectic couple of seasons.

They will go back and analyse what went wrong here, and that needs to be done as they lost too many individual battles over the course of 60 minutes.

However, at the same time, a break for a couple of months could do this side the world of good too.

No doubt new Wexford boss Kevin Tattan will be on the phone soon looking to get plenty of these on board, but there needs to be a sensible approach with St. Martin's players, a group that really needs a breather for a while.

While there is still development to be done, this reporter is probably not alone in believing that this squad of players has an All-Ireland title in them in the medium term, and that needs to be remembered when approaching the 2020 season in the coming weeks.

St. Martin's led for barely 60 seconds of this encounter, and that says an awful lot about how it went.

They were always playing catch-up and feeling like you are always on the ropes is tiring, especially coming just seven days after the drawn game between the sides.

At the end of the day, St. Martin's didn't do much but gut their way through this game.

The quality was very limited, way off what was on show previously and light years behind last season's run to the final.

Too many times a St. Martin's defender came away with possession and punted an aimless ball down the field to a spare St. Vincent's player.

As much as it was a physical test, the Piercestown-based side looked beaten mentally as their heads simply strayed from what got them to this point too often.

Even when the ball did find a gap, the forwards lost too many one-on-one battles.

St. Vincent's deserved credit for their own gutsy display, but to be completely honest they aren't anything sensational and it would be a huge surprise if they went on to win an All Ireland.

After a goal-less game a week earlier, it was felt that majors would be the key to this contest.

Within three minutes Ellen McGovern broke from deep, took a handpass cleanly on the run, and dispatched past Mags D'Arcy.

At 1-1 to nil down, St. Martin's went about playing catch-up. Emma Codd opened their account from Lisa Firman's pass before Sarah O'Connor was blocked down in the process of shooting in the eighth minute.

Chloe Foxe knocked over a couple of points to get her side within one, but back came St. Vincent's with scores from Eimear McCarthy and Ali Maguire to make it 1-3 to 0-3 as the game moved towards the second quarter.

When a Foxe free was countered by two from St. Vincent's, the gap was four. However, the county forward raced away on the right of goal and fired low past Claire Clinton, and soon followed it with another dead-ball to level the scores (1-5 each).

One of the biggest regrets that St. Martin's should have after this game is that they didn't test the St. Vincent's goalkeeper more often, as Claire Clinton didn't seem too confident stopping shots but wasn't troubled enough to expose that weakness.

After Ali Maguire and Amy Cardiff exchanged points near the end of the half, the sides were deadlocked at 1-6 apiece at the interval.

That only moved on by a point each in the third quarter as Maguire responded to a Sarah O'Connor point that had given St. Martin's the lead.

Maybe things would have been different had Lisa Bolger's goal stood when she was adjudged to have been in the square when flicking home Chloe Foxe's long ball.

Instead, St. Vincent's started to get on top early in the final quarter and were 1-9 to 1-7 up going into the last ten minutes.

Much like many huge county and club wins will be littered with important Mags D'Arcy saves, there is also a catalogue of errors in losses too, and only she knows what she was doing when Niamh Hetherton looped in a critical 51st-minute major.

Referee John Dermondy was playing an advantage for the St. Vincent's forward when she forced a shot away from way out on the left, and D'Arcy appeared to let it go as it dropped under her crossbar.

There's an argument that Hetherton overcarried while in possession, but Dermody consistently didn't call for this offence throughout the game at both ends of the field. Despite D'Arcy's displeasure, the goal stood and St. Martin's were again in a hole.

Foxe and Lisa Bolger cut the deficit to 2-9 to 1-9 but two Maguire points, the second coming in the fourth minute of added time, pretty much sealed the deal.

Linda Bolger's late long-range free found its way past Clinton, but the full-time whistle went on the next puck of the ball to seal St. Martin's fate.

St. Martin's: Mags D'Arcy; Aisling O'Connor, Marie Claire Morrissey (capt.), Mary Barrett; Anna Hennessy, Ciara O'Connor, Katie O'Connor; Aisling Cronin, Amy Cardiff (0-1); Sarah O'Connor (0-1), Chloe Foxe (1-5, 0-4 frees), Linda Bolger (1-0 free); Lisa Firman, Lisa Bolger (0-1), Emma Codd (0-1). Subs. - Aoife O'Connor for Cronin (50), Lettie Whelan for Firman (50), also Amy Ryan, Amy O'Leary, Alannah Davis, Aoife Dempsey, Fiona Esmonde, Sarah Hobbert, Claire Barrett, Aoife Bridges, Áine Ennis, Lauren Carty, Ella O'Connor.

St. Vincent's: Claire Clinton; Lora Smith, Deirdre Johnstone, Áine Woods; Danielle Smith, Gráinne Quinn, Ciara O'Leary; Muireann Kelliher, Ellen McGovern (1-0); Evelyn Twomey, Niamh Hetherton (1-1), Alison Maguire (capt., 0-9, 5 frees, 2 '45s); Aisling Maher, Áine Fanning, Eimear McCarthy (0-1). Subs. - Shauna McBride for Twomey (31), Elaine O'Leary for D. Smith (40), Anna Sullivan for Fanning (51).

Referee: John Dermody (Westmeath).

Gorey Guardian

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