Sunday 19 May 2019

Martin's seek first Leinster camogie title

Dean Goodison

St. Martin's are potentially 60 minutes away from becoming the fifth Wexford club to taste Leinster Senior club camogie championship success. However, they face a daunting opponent if they want to turn that dream into reality.

The Piercestown-based side travel to Nowlan Park on Sunday to meet Thomastown (2.30 p.m.), winners of the last two Leinster titles, including a dramatic 2017 title decider against the Wexford champions.

In that game St. Martin's kept themselves in the contest with the ability to find the net (0-16 to 3-6), and it's going to take a gargantuan effort to push on that little bit further and join Buffers Alley (eight times), Oulart-The Ballagh (six), St. Ibar's/Shelmalier and Rathnure (three each) as champions of the province.

It was Thomastown's second consecutive Leinster crown last year. Prior to their success in 2017, they knocked Oulart-The Ballagh out in the 2016 semi-final so hold no hang-ups facing Wexford sides, despite losing to the same opposition two seasons earlier.

What the Kilkenny champions have struggled with is taking the next step.

In 2016, after wrapping up the Leinster title with a final win against Dublin club St. Vincent's, they came unstuck in the All-Ireland semi-final, falling to Sarsfields of Galway by one point.

Confidence must have been high after dispatching St. Martin's last November but, when the action returned after the winter break, Thomastown slipped out in the last four again, this time against reigning All-Ireland champions Slaughtneil of Derry.

This will be the second game in this championship, as Thomastown sauntered past St. Jude's from Dublin in the semi-final (1-14 to 0-5) and that game will surely stand to them. On the other hand, St. Martin's come into the game on the back of a six-week break.

The girls in maroon proved too good for Oulart-The Ballagh in the county final on October 6, winning by 1-10 to 1-6, and will be hoping that the gap between games doesn't dent their elevating form levels.

They will still be without Sarah O'Connor, who is recovering from a knee operation, so will lean heavily on an experienced duo, goalkeeper Mags D'Arcy and full-back Noeleen Lambert, as well as youngster Ciara O'Connor - player of the match in the county final - in a bid to keep Thomastown quiet.

If you want to stop Thomastown, you must keep the Farrell sisters quiet. Meighan, Anna and Shelly all started this season's All-Ireland Senior final for Kilkenny, but Eimear is also a member of the county squad and was top scorer from play when these sides met last year.

Much will depend on how well St. Martin's can manufacture scores at the other end.

Chloe Foxe and Linda Bolger are usually good for a few, but the level of success players like Emma Codd and Lettie Whelan have will go a long way to determining the result.

The All-Ireland series works in a roundabout of contests, meaning the 2018 Leinster champions will face the Munster winners, Inniscarra from Cork, in the new year.

If St. Martin's are to be there they will need to maintain maximum effort throughout and maybe get a little luck along the way.

Gorey Guardian