St. Patrick’s advance on cold night in Ahoghill

Corn Uan Uladh semi-final

Corn Uan Uladh senior camogie semi-final

St Louis Ballymena 1-4 St Patrick’s Maghera 2-8

ST PATRICK’S Maghera are back in Ulster schools’ Corn Uan Uladh camogie final after avenging defeat by St Louis Ballymena in last year’s semi-final on Monday evening in Ahoghill.

Overall Maghera were probably the better balanced team with players capable of striking scores when under pressure. During the second half, after St Louis scored their goal to bring the game down to three points, they closed down the Ballymena midfield area not allowing them to run at their defence.

They also worked the ball better into an inside forward line that carried a little more threat than their Ballymena counter-parts.

However no-one could fault the effort from either team in very trying conditions in Ahoghill. A coating of snow lay on the pitch and with the temperature around or just under zero it very much resembled the conditions that Loughgiel excelled in for their All-Ireland club semi-final before Christmas. Both sets of players rose above those conditions to produce a rip-roaring performance.

Maghera’s two first half goals were crucial to the final result. Those were the difference between the teams at the break, 2-4 to 0-4, and meant that St Louis were always chasing a result.

Ballymena started brightest and camped out in their opponents half for the first six minutes. But they couldn’t register a score for all the pressure. Then Maghera captain, Eavanne Martin, drove a free from just inside her own half down to the left corner where Caoimhe Chambers took possession, rounded her marker and buried the sliotar in the net.

With the help of two fine points from Katie Molloy and another from Maria Gately, St Louis fought their way back to 1-1 to 0-3 after 12 minutes. However their failure to score over the next 15 minutes, left them with a mountain to climb.

Lavey’s Carla Collins pointed a long range free and Caoimhe Kearney added a third Maghera point before the second Maghera goal arrived in the 18th minute. Caoimhe Kearney’s cross from close to the corner flag was fed through by Ellie Griffin for Cara Donnelly to force into the net from close range.

The teams exchanged points before the break but the Derry school were now in charge and on their way to a final meeting with first time finalists St Killian’s.

Ballymena though gave themselves a lift at the start of the second half. They could have had a goal within 40 seconds when Aisling O’Donnell’s shot was deflected for a 45. Anna McKillop sent that 45 into the Maghera goal area where it broke and Eimear Johnstone found the net.

However the leaders showed composure to close the game down and Ballymena failed to score for the rest of the half while Maghera tagged on enough scores to pull themselves clear.

Sub Mary Therese McCullagh made it a four points’ gap in the 38th minute and four minutes later the sliotar was fed out for Carla Collins to post her side’s sixth point.

Collins added the final nails in Ballymena’s coffin with points in the 55th and 56th minutes to keep St Patrick’s, already the record title holders, on track for an 18th crown.

St Louis: E McGivern, S Shannon, A McKillen, L McGarry, E Coulter, D Dobbin, C Crawford, K Molloy 0-2, A O’Donnell, C Griffin, S Fyfe 0-1 capt, A McKillop, M Gately 0-1, C O’Boyle, E Johnstone 1-0

Subs: C Henderson for C O’Boyle (40)

St Patrick’s: M Hughes, E Murray, E Doherty, A McNeill, E McCormack, C Conway, E Kelly, O Hull, E Martin capt 0-1 pen, B McLaughlin, C Collins 0-5, 4 frees, C Donnelly 1-0, E Griffin, C Chambers 1-0, C Kearney 0-1

Subs: MT McCullagh 0-1 for B McLaughlin (30), B Brolly for E Kelly (55)

Referee: Paul O’Neill (Creggan)

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