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Relentless Annacurra claim Wicklow Intermediate camogie crown

O’Driscoll's side have too much for Avondale 

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The Annacurra team who will take their place at the top table of Wicklow camogie after defeating Avondale in the Intermediate final in Pearse’s Park.

The Annacurra team who will take their place at the top table of Wicklow camogie after defeating Avondale in the Intermediate final in Pearse’s Park.

Laci-Jane and Jade Shannon celebrate after Annacurra’s win in the Wicklow Intermediate camogie championship final in Pearse’s Park.

Laci-Jane and Jade Shannon celebrate after Annacurra’s win in the Wicklow Intermediate camogie championship final in Pearse’s Park.

Fiona McAllister, Cait Duffy and Kathleen McAllister celebrate Annacurra’s win in the Wicklow Intermediate camogie championship final.

Fiona McAllister, Cait Duffy and Kathleen McAllister celebrate Annacurra’s win in the Wicklow Intermediate camogie championship final.

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The Annacurra team who will take their place at the top table of Wicklow camogie after defeating Avondale in the Intermediate final in Pearse’s Park.

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Annacurra 2-15

Avondale 2-1

“We worked very hard, and I think the first half was probably a fair reflection of the work that we’ve put in and how we had to approach the game, kind of calm but relentless,” was Annacurra manager Colin O’Driscoll’s reaction moments after watching Sarah Lifely lift the Intermediate cup aloft in a sunny Pearse’s Park on Sunday afternoon following their emphatic 2-15 to 2-1 victory over a gallant but luckless Avondale.

The word ‘relentless’ is very fitting when reflecting on Annacurra’s victory and their powerful march to the Senior ranks where they will certainly hold their own going on the form they have shown this season and on their display in the decider.

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“The second half, obviously Avondale came at us strong. They were unfortunate to get the red card.

“They changed the whole system, and we got a bit flat-footed for a period and we had to figure out a way to come back into it, but I think we hit the stride then and finished strong which is what we wanted,” said O’Driscoll.

“This is the product of two years of hard luck. The commitment of the girls to the process has been phenomenal. They’ve been attending every training session, three times a week since November. We went unbeaten all year. We lost here in the championship final last year against Carnew and haven’t lost a game since.

And Annacurra certainly delivered on that mission statement on a beautiful day in Pearse’s Park. O’Driscoll’s side is one who has experienced pain on several occasions in recent years but also one that learned and developed and improved and produced a performance against Avondale that was hugely impressive.

Led from centre-back by captain Sarah Lifely who was absolutely superb throughout this encounter, powered by the engines of Caoimhe Murphy, Niamh Shannon, Laci-Jane Shannon, Isabelle Doyle, Jade Shannon, Hannah Doyle and Aisling Shannon and driven on by the accuracy of Emma Doyle, the ferocity of Leanne Lifely and the quality of Nadeine Fitzgerald, Annacurra were indeed relentless.

Add in the pure class at full-back in the form of former Oulart-The Ballagh and Wexford star Colleen Clune who had the capable Claire Byrne and Juliette Ní Chonaill either side and the reliable Fiona McAllister in goals and Avondale we’re always up against it given the injuries they carried into the game and then suffered during it as well.

Jade and Laci-Jane Shannon got Annacurra off to a flying start with two sweet scores with the wind at their backs while Emma Byrne got the first of her eight points (45) to make it 0-3 to 0-0 early doors.

The warning signs were flashing for Avondale when Leanne Lifely got on the end of a long Sarah Lifely free to finish home past Lyndsey Byrne and the full-forward added a point moments later to make it 1-4 to 0-0 after nine minutes with Caitlin Olohan registering a wide for Billy Byrne’s side who lost the services of Lauran O’Reilly following an injury in the semi-final.

By half-time things were looking very bleak for the ’Dales with Annacurra leading by 2-10 to 1-0, their second goal coming from Nadine Fitzgerald and further points from Emma Doyle (4) and Laci-Jane Shannon and Sarah Lifely while Lorraine Doyle would give the Rathdrum outfit some hope with a goal just before the break as they began to find their feet.

Avondale started brightly enough although Emma Byrne’s point, their first in the game, was sandwiched between two Emma Doyle frees as Annacurra pushed out to a 2-12 to 1-1 lead but in general play Billy Byrne’s side were improving.

However, the loss of Kayleigh Fox to injury after 14 minutes and the subsequent red carding of Ciara Clancy and loss to injury of Aine Fogarty meant that Avondale’s mountain was now impossible to climb.

Avondale were very well served by Mairead Dunne, Thea Cullen, Orla Byrne, Katie Kennedy, Caitlin Olohan, Emma Byrne, Orla Fogarty, Lorraine Doyle, Skye Byrne and Ciara Clancy but they met a team who have been on fire all season and weren’t about to slip up with championship glory and promotion at their fingertips.

They would breach the Annacurra defence with a Sarah Miley goal late on, but Annacurra were never going to be troubled at this stage and they cruised to victory and into the Senior camogie ranks where they will most certainly hold their own in 2023.

“I think we’re ready for Senior. I think it’s the right year for us,” said Colin O’Driscoll. “It’s the right time to go through. We wanted to put in a performance here that left nothing to chance, where there was no doubt,” he added.

They certainly did that.

Annacurra: Fiona McAllister; Claire Byrne, Colleen Clune, Juliette Ní Chonaill; Caoimhe Murphy, Sarah Lifely (capt.) (0-1), Niamh Shannon; Laci-Jane Shannon (0-2), Isabelle Doyle (0-1); Jade Shannon (0-1), Hannah Doyle, Aisling Shannon; Emma Doyle (0-8, 6f, 2 45s), Leanne Lifely (1-2), Nadine Fitzgerald (1-0). Subs: Siofra Byrne, Molly Hynes, Alison Moules, Chloe Cullen, Laura Doyle, Ellen Walsh, Ella Byrne, Denise Byrne, Bernie D’Arcy, Tracey Murphy, Aoife Stafford, Natalie Bracken, Kally Bracken, Eve Hannay.

Avondale: Lyndsey Byrne; Mairead Dunne, Thea Cullen, Ava Breen; Kayleigh Fox, Orla Byrne, Claudia Turner; Katie Kennedy (capt.), Caitlin Olohan; Emma Byrne (0-1, f), Aine Fogarty, Skye Byrne; Lorraine Doyle (1-0), Ciara Clancy, Hannah Olohan. Subs: Sarah Miley (1-0), Naoise Baker, Abbey Byrne, Angel Kavanagh, Shannon Kearns, Lauren O’Reilly.

Referee: Sinead O’Leary (Carnew Emmets)


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