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Pres girls put up gallant fight

Camogie: Leinster Schools Senior A Championship Semi-final: Pres. (Kilkenny) 4-8 Pres. (Wexford) 3-7

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Ciara Bridges taking on Kilkenny opponent Tara Ronan

Ciara Bridges taking on Kilkenny opponent Tara Ronan

Ciara Bridges taking on Kilkenny opponent Tara Ronan

There was disappointment for Presentation (Wexford) on Friday as they exited the Leinster Colleges Senior 'A' camogie championship in Coolcotts at the semi-final stage against a talented Presentation (Kilkenny) side.

While that feeling of disappointment is natural and necessary, the continued progress the school is making in the sporting field has to be an immense source of pride for those involved.

Two years ago, twelve of this starting line-up were in the squad when their school became All-Ireland Junior 'B' champions. It was an incredible achievement, but there should always be a hankering to compete against the very best.

Well, the Grogan's Road girls got that chance this season and went toe-to-toe with one of the very best in the country. Without question they were able to show that very little separated them from the elite.

Four points was the end margin and it was a fair reflection of the game. Territorially it was dead even, as both sides had their moments but Kilkenny probably created a couple more goal chances throughout, and that was enough for them to advance to the provincial final.

As both sides found their feet on a heavy pitch, the visitors edged ahead with a couple of points from the lively Keara Ryan and a classy effort by her fellow county Under-16 from last season, Sarah Barcoe.

However, Pres. (Wexford) delivered a crashing riposte in the 13th minute. It was a well-worked goal, going through several hands before Ailis Neville cracked a low shot past stopper Kate Furlong.

An Andrea Fielding point gave the hosts their first lead, and things looked to be going really well when Neville fed her club colleague down the left, with Fielding forcing the ball across for Emma Dempsey to apply the clinical finish.

Critically, when Presentation (Wexford) looked set to kick on, their opponents responded with a long-range Sarah O'Donnell effort that bounded to the net (2-1 to 1-3).

Neville and Sinéad Furlong gave them a three-point lead again, but Presentation (Kilkenny) owned the last few minutes of the half.

From a stong position, Presentation (Wexford) went in two down (2-5 to 2-3).

The goal came two minutes before half-time and was a cracking effort fired to the net by Emma Shortall.

Needing a positive start after the break, the Slaneysiders got it.

Neville drew them level again with a brace of points, but two goals in 60 seconds, from Barcoe and Ryan, put the Wexford town school in a hole.

Neville pulled one back before Ryan hit the crossbar for the visitors.

After hanging on at the end of the third quarter, Presentation (Wexford) found another gear. Neville pulled a couple of points back before she cracked the crossbar.

When Eleanor Hammel got away on the right and goaled in the 55th minute, there was just two points between the sides (4-6 to 3-7).

However, try as hard as they might, there was no dramatic win. Presentation (Kilkenny) knuckled down in defence and sealed a final spot against city rivals Loreto with the deadly duo of Barcoe and Ryan notching late points.

Presentation (Wexford): Hannah Hearne (St. Ibar's/Shelmalier); Fiona Cousins (Buffers Alley), Aoife Whelan (Buffers Alley), Rachel Murphy (Glynn-Barntown); Niamh Cogley (Glynn-Barntown), Ciara Bridges (St. Martin's), Saoirse O'Connor (Buffers Alley); Sinéad Furlong (Buffers Alley, 0-1), Eleanor Hammel (Buffers Alley, 1-0); Aoibheann Mernagh (St. Martin's), Emma Dempsey (Glynn-Barntown, 1-0), Ailis Neville (St. Ibar's/Shelmalier, capt., 1-5, 0-4 frees); Rebecca Fanning (Glynn-Barntown), Andrea Fielding (St. Ibar's/Shelmalier, 0-1), Clodagh Whelan (Blackwater). Subs. - Caitlin Garnett (Glynn-Barntown) for C. Whelan (36), also Megan Murray-Byrne (St. Martin's), Grace Harding-Kenny (St. Ibar's/Shelmalier), Dara Kelly (St. Martin's), Catríona Kinsella (St. Ibar's/Shelmalier), Clara Ryan (St. Anne's).

Presentation (Kilkenny): Kate Furlong; Ellen Purcell, Grace Barcoe, Katie Ryan; Sarah Hudson, Gillian Costello (capt.), Niamh Phelan; Sarah O'Donnell (1-0), Rachel Whelan (0-1); Eva Dunne, Tara Ronan (0-1), Sarah Barcoe (1-3); Lauren Ronan, Emma Shortall (1-0), Keara Ryan (1-3). Sub. - Bri O'Donoghue for L. Ronan (59).

Referee: Seán Whelan (St. Martin's).

Wexford People