Nothing goes right for gallant Garden U-16 camogie side
Kildare 1-10 Wicklow 0-00
In a game where Lady Luck deserted the Wicklow side, Kildare emerged victors in the Leinster U-16 'C' championship final, held on Saturday in Thomastown GAA pitch, Co Kilkenny.
The Wicklow team battled throughout, never losing heart.
But it was in those missed chances where fantastic free ins went just wide of the mark and encounters in front of goal saw the sliotar come outfield rather than between the posts that kept Wicklow scoreless.
Just one break would have given the Wicklow side the boost they needed to convert huge and consistent effort into scores.
Clodagh Murphy got Kildare off to a great start just four minutes in with a quickly snatched goal, and the lilywhites followed four minutes later with a point. Wicklow's Leah Carroll played her heart out, with well-placed sideline cuts and frees to put Kildare under pressure.
In goal, Sara Davis was a safe bet and managed to keep out not one but two Kildare quick attempts on goal, before Roisin Roche pointed for Kildare. A Leah Carroll free landed in front of the Kildare goalmouth, only to emerge back upfield again. Sive Byrne on the half-forward line had her moves forward deflected and midfielder Lucy Rooney's solo run towards the Kildare goalmouth also ran aground.
The backline sustained great pressure and held firm, only conceding another pint to Kildare's Roisin Roche, who was a formidable opponent. Halfway through the first half, the scoreline read Kildare 1-03 to Wicklow 0-0 and the backline held the Kildare girls to this until half-time. In the meantime, attempts to breach the Kildare defence by Leah Carroll, Sive Byrne, Amy Switzer, Mia O'Connor, Casey Kelly, and Kaley Kavanagh came to nought as the Kildare backs withstood the pressure.
In the second-half, Maria Rafferty replaced Erin Byrne at right half back, and Wicklow again tried to break through the Kildare back line, with a great shot by Leah Carroll just going wide by inches. Five minutes in, Kildare's Roisin Roche notched up another point and the match settled down to evenly matched tussles, with the half-back line of Sarah Doyle, Katie Anne O'Neill, and Emma Murphy kept busy in keeping the Kildare forwards as quiet as possible. Management made three substitutions at this point with Katie O'Byrne, Holly Bates, and Grace Harper coming in to replace Jenny Tyrell, Kaley Kavanagh, and Casey Kelly.
Kildare made hay on the day, however, and managed to break through to score four points in relatively quick succession. Doireann O'Brien replaced Amy Barrett at left full back and, despite Kildare substitutions, there was no stopping the lilywhites, with their final point coming just a minute before referee Suzanne Forde (Dublin) blew the final whistle.
On another day, the scoreline would have reflected better on the efforts of the Wicklow team. With eight out of the nine teams from the U-16 League represented on the team, this is a great statement of intent to compete on the intercounty stage by the county board and the clubs involved. Management can take heart from the never-say-die attitude of the panel and their fortitude under sustained pressure by a team on whom fortune shone on this particular Saturday.
Wicklow: Sara Davis; Erin Byrne, Jenny Tyrell, Amy Barrett; Sarah Doyle, Katie Ann O'Neill, Emma Murphy; Lucy Rooney, Leah Carroll; Ciara Clancy, Sive Byrne, Amy Switzer; Mia O'Connor; Casey Kelly, Kaley Kavanagh; Hollie Eve Cullen Dunne, Katie O'Byrne, Holly Bates, Grace Harper, Ava Whelan, Maria Rafferty, Eleanor Carroll-Hayes, Doireann O'Brien, Emer O'Toole, Erin O'Toole, Isabel Keenaghan, Molly Walker, Orla Byrne, Niamh Byrne. Management: Anne Carroll, Noeleen Whelan, Paul Switzer.