Monday 11 December 2017

Chawkes can help clinch centenary final

Máire Uí ScolaíCamogie

THE curtain comes down on the intercounty camogie centenary year on Sunday with the Senior and Junior All-Ireland club finals going ahead in Parnell Park.

Defending club champions Granagh-Ballingarry of Limerick will take on first-time All-Ireland finalists St Lachtain's Freshford of Kilkenny at 2.30, while Four Roads of Roscommon will meet Liatroim Fontenoys of Down in the Junior final at 1.0, thus bringing all four provinces into the equation.

Going for their fourth title, Granagh have come through a tough Munster campaign with only two points to spare against both Toomevara in the semi-final and Milford in the Munster final.

Manager Mike Chawke will have his wife Ber in her usual centre-back position and their daughter Fiona up front.

Fiona is searching for her second club title, while Ber is hoping to crown centenary year with her fifth All-Ireland club medal, having won her first back in 1978 with Ballyagran.

The brilliant centre-back won her 10th Munster club title this year when Granagh overcame Milford. Missing from last year's winning side will be defender Laura Lesley who unfortunately suffered an injury in the county final this year, while forward Meadbh Nash is also out due to injury.

Captain Deirdre Sheehan will be joined by her three sisters in the side: Vera, who captained the first winning side in 1998, Aoife and Maureen, who have all also worn the green and white of Limerick.

"It would be great to win this final, it would be very special for Granagh as we were the last team to win the old 12-a-side format, the first team to win the 15-a-side game, and to win it in centenary year would be a real crowning glory for us," said Deirdre.

The Sheehan sisters are not the only sisters chasing the Carroll Cup as goalkeeper Breda will have her well-known sister Eileen playing up front.

This year's hurling final showed what hunger can do and so the Kilkenny Cats will be very hungry, having never tasted glory at this level, despite boasting experienced players such as Gillian Dillon Maher, daughter of the former Kilkenny hurling great Pa Dillon, in their ranks.

Like Granagh they will not lack sister power either. Captain Imelda can call on her sister Esther, who won an All-Ireland senior medal in 1994, while Imelda holds a minor medal from 1991.

Add in the three Fitzpatrick sisters of Eileen, Aoife and Emma, the Corrigan duo of Noelle and Sinéad, the Costelloes of Mairéad and Sinéad and the Connery threesome of Áine, Eimear and Sinéad and the Lachtain's team will surely have enough sister power to bring home the Bill Carroll Cup for the very first time.

Their path to the final was an easier one than Granagh as they overcame Oulart-The Ballagh in the Leinster semi-final, white-washed the Dublin champions and then met with last year's finalists Davitts of Galway in last month's semi-final.

While they have several very experienced intercounty players, they will have to be at their very best to overcome Granagh. On this occasion, however, Lachtain's may have to play second fiddle to Granagh.

The Junior final, which is only in its second year, will feature two first-time finalists, Four Roads of Roscommon and Liatroim Fontenoys from Down.

In many ways, it is a repeat of this year's All-Ireland Junior championship semi-final when Down and Roscommon met. The Mourne girls went all the way to Croke Park in September but failed at the final hurdle and so will be extremely anxious to make up for that defeat as Máirín McAleenan, Clare McGovern, captain Anne Morgan, Lisa McCrickard and Brenda Gallagher were all members of the Down panel.

They may well possess too much experience for the Connacht champions who have a fairly young team. Captained by Cait Kenny, it would be a big dream come true for the county PRO who herself played in two losing All-Ireland finals in 1995 and 1996, so she is hoping it is a case of third time lucky.

Like the Mourne girls, the Roscommon lasses will also be trying to make up for their Minors' defeat in this year's All-Ireland final, but if they are win, they will need to curb the elusive Máirín McAleenan.

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