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Outstanding Knockananna storm to three-in-a-row of Wicklow Senior camogie crowns

Brave Kiltegan effort falls short against defending champions

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The Knockananna camogie team who claimed the three-in-a-row of Wicklow Senior titles when defeating Kiltegan in Pearse's Park last Sunday.

The Knockananna camogie team who claimed the three-in-a-row of Wicklow Senior titles when defeating Kiltegan in Pearse's Park last Sunday.

Knockananna captain Rachel Byrne receives the Wicklow Camogie Senior Championship cup from Chairperson Ivor Lehane.

Knockananna captain Rachel Byrne receives the Wicklow Camogie Senior Championship cup from Chairperson Ivor Lehane.

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The Knockananna camogie team who claimed the three-in-a-row of Wicklow Senior titles when defeating Kiltegan in Pearse's Park last Sunday.

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Knockananna 5-16

Kiltegan 1-3

Knockananna delivered a devastating performance to clinch the three-in-a-row of Senior camogie crowns on county final day in Pearse’s Park last Sunday.

Their form all through this season suggested that the 5-16 to 1-3 victory over Kiltegan was very much a possibility when Ciaran Goff would sound his final whistle, but the performance still had to be delivered and delivered it most certainly was.

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The expectation of such a winning margin brings its own pressure on raging hot favourites in any competition and when you add the natural desire of the vast majority of people outside of the dominant team for them to fail, things can always go wrong.

However, despite an early competitive edge to this game, a stagnant period in the second half and 13 wides over the course of the hour, Knockananna were almost untouchable, with Tom Byrne’s side playing some scintillating hurling while cementing their place well and truly among the best club teams to have ever emerged from the Garden County.

There is no shame in this defeat for Kiltegan, on what was a proud day for the club, with two teams contesting county finals. Lorcan Byrne’s side met a squad in a different place at the moment in terms of first touch, physicality and development, but the potential to close that gap is very much there given the quality among their ranks in the likes of Ciara Boland, Jackie Byrne, Fay Corrigan, Sophie Bermingham and Shefali Daly Danne to name just a few.

The only real way to close that gap in a hurried way is more hurling and whether that be achieved by entering a Carlow or Kildare league or in some other way is up for debate, but for any team to try and match this Knockananna side in their current form they are going to have to play more games.

Much of the cause of Knockananna’s domination comes from the middle third and this was the case on Sunday afternoon as they marched to their three-in-a-row of Senior titles.

The powerful and skillful midfield pairing of Shannagh Goetelen and Aimee Maher are complimented by a hungry and lethal set of six players that includes the excellent Emily Hadden at centre-back, the courageous Jessie Nolan Byrne who is just back from injury, the busy Roisin Byrne, the classy Ciara Byrne, team captain and superb hurler Rachel Byrne and the electric Emily Mulhall while Laura McGrath swooped in and out as she continues in a sporting career that will surely be ranked among the top five of the greatest to have ever played in the Garden County across all codes and genders.

If a team is successful against the warriors in this third of the pitch, they then have to face the tenacious Áine Byrne at full-back and the capable Dervla Byrne and dynamic Eimear O’Sullivan either side while at the other end they have to try contain Sinead Byrne at full-forward and the tigerish and deadly Sarah Byrne, while Knockananna boast a subs bench that would trouble any team in their own right.

It was 2-0 to 0-1 for the defending champions after nine minutes, Emily Mulhall finishing home the first goal after great work from Laura McGrath and Rachel Byrne with Byrne’s effort coming back off the post and Mulhall on hand to lash home. Sinead Byrne struck home after nine when a long Aimee Maher ball from out the field was batted out by Paula Boland only for the full-forward to finish with aplomb.

Kiltegan got off the mark in the fifth minute through a beautifully struck free from the hurl of Sophie Bermingham who would have too much to do in firefighting the Knockananna blaze to bring her undeniable and sublime skills to the scoring end of things for her side.

By half-time the fatal damage had been inflicted following a stunning display of camogie from a team in a very good place in terms of understanding and unity.

White flags were raised by Aimee Maher (2), Laura McGrath (2), Rachel Byrne (2), one from her own 65, Emily Mulhall, Ciara Byrne (2), Sarah Byrne (2) and a third goal, a ripper from Sarah Byrne while Kiltegan finished on a high when Shefali Daly Danne rifled home to the top corner after good work with Sarah Jane Winders at the end of the opening half.

With the result fairly secure at this stage and with Kiltegan raising their game on the restart, the following 20 minutes were dogged and less than spectacular as often happens when one side is well ahead on the scoreboard.

Bermingham converted a free after five minutes of the second half while they also notched up two wides and had a Bermingham shot for goal from a free saved out for a 45.

Ciara Byrne grabbed Knockananna’s two points during this time, the first a sublime effort on the run, the second a quality score after great work from Laura McGrath and Jessie Nolan Byrne.

The final 10 minutes belonged to the champions. Ciara Byrne, superb from start to finish, bagged another point while Sarah Byrne showed beautiful stick work on the way to grabbing goal number four after 57 minutes.

Tom Byrne’s side finished with a flourish with points from Alice Mulhall and Roisin Byrne and a goal from Emily Mulhall from a shot from distance just after the talented Faye Corrigan grabbed Kiltegan’s final score of the game.

The league and championship form suggested that this was possible, perhaps even likely, but it takes a serious outfit to live with that pressure and deliver in the manner that Knockananna did.

They march on to the Leinster Junior ‘A’ championship semi-final in six weeks where they will hope to continue this magical journey by securing their place in another provincial final.

Knockananna: Kellie Byrne; Dervla Byrne, Áine Byrne, Eimear Breslin; Roisin Byrne (0-1), Emily Hadden, Eimear O’Sullivan; Shannagh Goetelen, Aimee Maher (0-2); Ciara Byrne (0-5), Rachel Byrne (0-2), Emily Mulhall (2-1); Sarah Byrne (2-2), Sinead Byrne (1-0), Laura McGrath (0-2). Subs: Niamh Byrne for S Byrne (50), Eimear Breslin for D Byrne (54), Alice Mulhall (1-0) for S Byrne (57), Eimer Mutton for J Nolan Byrne (57). Panel: Siobhan Mulhall, Loretta Mutton, Aobha Harmon, Kate Hatton, Kathleen D’Arcy, Tara McDonald, Kayla Tighe, Deirdre O’Neill, Emily Ging, Ciara Byrne, Aisling Fleming, Amy Roche, Grace Mulhall.

Kiltegan: Paula Boland; Elisha Ryan, Ciara Boland, Michelle Farrell; Moya Cremin, Jackie Byrne, Emma Byrne; Faye Corrigan (0-1), Sarah Jane Winders; Sophie Bermingham (0-2, 2f), Fiona Hobson, Caoimhe Ní Shuilleabhain; Shefali Daly Danne (1-0), Clare Kealy, Sarah Byrne O’Toole. Subs: Rebecca Donegan for M Farrell (inj), Ailbhe Maguire. Panel: Miriam O’Keeffe, Catherine Donovan, Selina Byrne, CArmel Spillane, Leah Furlong, Ailbhe Maguire, Milly Cullen, Kirstan Mallin, Evelyn Deans.

Referee: Ciaran Goff (Glenealy)


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