St Killian’s into Fr Davies final

St Killian’s College 6-10 St Catherine’s College, Armagh 1-0

St Killian’s Garron Tower, beaten finalists two years ago in the Fr Davies Cup final, are back in the decider after a comfortable victory over St Catherine’s College Armagh in Meadowbank, Magherafelt.

This was the venue that saw St Catherine’s beat them in the 2018 final. However there was no chance of a repeat performance with the Tower racing to an interval lead of 4-7 to 0-0.

St Killian’s were in control in most areas of the field and eight players made the team sheet including goals each for substitutes Caitlin McKeown and Louise Mulholland during the second half.

Armagh battled away against the tide with Caitlin Lenaghan and Keeley-Mae Rafferty their best players while Naoise Hughes slipped in their only score, a goal, midway through the second half.

St Killian’s will now meet St Patrick’s Keady in the Loup on Saturday (1.30pm). Keady had a surprise 5-18 to 4-8 victory over Our Lady’s and St Patrick’s Knock last week.

St Killian’s: Clodagh McPeake 2-2, Monique O’Boyle 2-1, Caitlin McKeown 1-0, Louise Mullholland 1-0, Orlaith McAlister 0-3, Niamh Graham 0-2, Sine Woodhouse 0-1, Kady McNeill 0-1

St Catherine’s : Naoise Hughes 1-0

Change of tops brings change of fortune as St. Louis advance

 Corn Uan Uladh semi-final:

St Louis Ballymena 4-8 St Patrick’s Maghera 4-7

That well-worn cliché, ‘A game of two halves’ certainly applied in this enthralling Corn Uan Uladh semi-final game in Ahoghill today when St. Louis Ballymena staged a remarkable second half comeback to overturn St. Patrick’s Maghera’s 12 point half time lead and advance to the final against Cross & Passion Ballycastle in Ballymena on Saturday.

The first half belonged to the Derry girls and while they were not as dominating as their half time lead suggested, they never the less appeared to have one foot in Saturday’s final when they led 4-4 to 0-4 as the half time whistle sounded.

St. Louis and their opponents St. Patrick’s lined out in very similar colours at the start of this game in Cloney and St. Louis manager, Chloe Draine decided to turn her sides shirts inside out for the second half and while this was not the reason for her side’s remarkable rally it certainly made players much easier to identify as the second half action got under way

St Louis opened brightly with points from Dunloy pair Kyra Doherty and Katie Molloy (2) inside the first five minutes and looked impressive during these opening exchanges.

By the 10th minute they had conceded three goals however and questions would have to be asked about their defending with St. Patrick’s coming up against only minimum resistance as they penetrated the Ballymena rear guard.

The first came with a long ball out of defence for Carla McEldowney in the right corner and on both occasions a low cross was picked up by Aimee Lennon for the first two goals. Then Bellaghy club-mate Caoimhe Chambers finished the third goal and again the St. Louis marking was poor.

St Louis were forced to bring Katie Molloy back as sweeper to close out the goal threat and it left the Kintullagh girls missing her influence in attack. There was a bit of fortune with Maghera’s fourth goal at the end of the first quarter with goalie Orlagh Convery seeming to lose site of Evanne Martin’s shot in the blinding sun and it ended in the net.

Maghera continued to press during the remainder of the half and looked to be in pole position when they led 4-4 to 0-4 at the change of ends with St. Louis getting a late point from Anna McKillop.

With the change of tops seemed to come a change in attitude from the Ballymena side and Kyra Doherty got the second half off to a flying start with a goal and when Anna McKillop added a second after 36 minutes, St Louis supporters and their side dared to dream.

The momentum was now very much with St. Louis as they battled for every ball, knocking the opposition out of their stride and minutes before the second water break Katie Molloy drove through the centre and fired to the net to leave just two points between the teams at 3-6 to 4-5.

Anna McKillop’s point from a free left just one in it and the Cullybackey Road girls had the scent of victory in their nostrils as the final quarter got under way and the excellent Anna McKillop fired in a fourth Ballymena goal to level the tie.

The action continued to flow in the direction of the Maghera goal and Eimear Johnston might well have had a fifth Ballymena goal minutes later, but her shot skimmed over the cross-bar instead.

St. Patrick’s had been fighting a rear guard action for the greater part of the second half and finding it difficult to find a way through a now much more organised St. Louis defence but they broke forward and Evanne Martin levelled from a free and the game was still in the melting pot.

 St. Louis were not to be denied however and McKillop knocked over the winning point from a dead ball four minutes from the end. There were a couple of late chances for Maghera to take it to extra time, but St Louis held on to make it an all-north Antrim derby with Cross & Passion Ballycastle in the final for the third time out of the last four.

CPC had things all their own way in the other semi-final against St Mary’s Magherafelt in Ballymena, scoring eight goals and five points in the first half alone and five of those from Cassie McArthur.

St Louis: Orlagh Convery, Susan Shannon, Orla Kane, Grace Kearns, Erin Coulter, Dearbhail Dobbin, Sarah Fyfe, Eimear Johnstone 0-1, Katie Molloy 1-2, Carlina Sullivan, Cliodhna Griffin, Anna McKillop 2-4, 0-3 frees, Niamh Neeson, Kyra Doherty 1-1 capt, Ciara O’Boyle.

Subs: Anna McKillen for O Kane (HT), Maria Gately for C O’Boyle (HT), Aoibhinn Cosgrove for C Sullivan (38).

St Patrick’s: Annie Ní Lochlainn, Alicia Gillen, Leah Lennon capt, Erin Kelly, Emer Doherty, Orlaith Hull, Abi McNeill, Evanne Martin 1-4, 0-3 frees, Emer Murray, Cara Donnelly, Blanaid McLaughlin 0-1, Doireann Donnelly, Carla McEldowney 0-1, Aimee Lennon 2-1, Caoimhe Chambers 1-0.

Subs: Emma Collins for C Donnelly (HT), Caoimhe Kearney for D Donnelly (40), Mary Murray for E Murray (48).

Referee Owen Elliott (Ballymena)

Super Slaughtneil make it 6-in-a-row as Shamrocks rue missed chances

Ulster Senior club camogie final 2021

Slaughtneil 3-7 Loughgiel 0-9

The Slaughtneil juggernaut rolled on at Lavey on Saturday when the Derry champions completed a record six in a row of Ulster Senior titles, all six of them coming at the expense of Antrim champions Loughgiel. Like so many of the other wins Loughgiel looked at times as if they could stop the maroon machine, but once again the came up short in a few areas and were left ruing missed chances yet again. More importantly when the chips were down Slaughtneil’s big players stepped up to the mark and wrestled back control.

Two goals from full forward Sinead Mellon early in the second half were the scores that ripped the heart out of the Loughgiel girls. The Antrim champions had a world of possession during the first half but some wayward shooting and the concession of a bad goal had cost them dearly. Still starting the second period just two points in arrears the Shamrocks still appeared to be in a strong position as they turned to play ‘down the slope’. However this Slaughtneil team are never flustered and they set about their task with their usual efficiency and when Mellon struck for two goals in just over a minute the game was in their control once again.  

For the remainder of the game Loughgiel gave as they got but eight points in arrears, they were never going to close that gap as the Derry champions made it six of the best as they booked an All Ireland semi-final place against old foes Sarsfields of Galway in five weeks time.    

Racquel Murphy fires over a first half point

Louise Dougan gave Slaughtneil the lead in the opening seconds when she split the Loughgiel post with a free from the middle of the park, but Loughgiel settled into the game and two pointed frees from Roisin McCormick put them ahead but the 12th minute.   

The first real body blow came soon afterwards when a shot for a point from Olivia Rafferty dipped in below the Loughgiel crossbar for a goal and though McCormick and Racquel Murphy came back with points, a pointed ‘45’ from Tina Bradley just before the change of ends, had the champions two to the good. (1-4 to 0-5)

Loughgiel had chances early in the second half, as indeed had Slaughtneil, but neither could make the breakthrough. All was to change when Oliva Rafferty cut in from the right and found full forward Sinead Mellon who drilled a shot to the back of the Shamrocks net.

Soon afterwards the full forward struck again when a shot from a Slaughtneil forward was blocked down into the danger zone and Mellon steered the ball past the stranded defenders to all but seal the win. To their credit Loughgiel came back with the next three points, but it was going to take goals to turn things around and Slaughneil’s water-tight defence were giving nothing away.

Roisin McCormick in action during the Ulster final against Slaughtneil.

Slaughtneil: J Bradley capt; O McNeill, L Dougan 0-2 frees, E McGrath, B McAllister, Céat McEldowney, C McGrath; S Graham, C Ní Mhianáin 0-2, C Mulholland; T Bradley 0-2 frees, A Ní Chaiside, O Rafferty 1-0, S Mellon 2-0, T Mellon 0-1.

Subs : C Glass for E McGrath, F Burke for T Mellon, Carla McEldowney for C Mulholland, E McGuigan for O Rafferty, C Kearney for S Mellon

Loughgiel: M Coyle, C Campbell, K Lynn, M Lynn, E McFadden, L McNaughton 0-2, S Devlin, M Connolly capt., C Dobbin, E McMullan, R Murphy 0-1, A Lynn, Christine Laverty, R McCormick 0-6, 5 frees.

Subs: A Connolly for E McFadden, Ciara Laverty for E McMullan

Referee: Philip McDonald (Cavan)

A break of the ball and a bit of self belief might do the trick

2021 Ulster Senior Club Camogie Final @ Lavey

Loughgiel v Slaughtneil

Loughgiel will be looking for a change of luck when they take on Slaughtneil in tomorrow’s 2021 Ulster Senior Camogie final in Lavey. Throw-in 1pm.

2015 is the last time the Shamrocks lowered the colours of Slaughtneil, Una McNaughton captaining the team to victory in Armagh Athletic Grounds. Since then it has been the Derry champions who have held the upper hand, the girls in maroon adding three All Ireland titles along the way. Those stats would suggest that it has all been one way traffic, but the finals of 2016 and 2020 (played a few weeks ago) have been drawn, with Slaughtneil winning both replays in Glen Maghera. The 2016 final replay was close to the very last until a late Mary Kelly goal sealed the first Ulster title for the Derry champions.

Una McNaughton lifted the Ulster trophy back in 2015 at Armagh Athletic Grounds

The 2020 replay was a more convincing affair with Slaughtneil dominating the game in heavy conditions in Maghera a few weeks ago. Loughgiel just could not get going against a dominant Slaughtneil side who showed they can play in any conditions.

PJ O’Mullan and his management team will be pleased tomorrow’s final will be played on a much better surface in Lavey, and that will suit his team’s better. In the drawn game in Ballymena some weeks back the Shamrocks were in the game for most of the hour, and had they got a couple of breaks they could have got over the line. However Slaughtneil are relentless and they simply never give up the fight.

Self-belief will play a big part in tomorrow’s final. If Loughgiel can get a decent start they can mix with the champions. It is vital the take the scores that are available if they are to succeed. A losing run in finals stretching over five years will have sapped the confidence, but when that happens you have keep knocking at the door in the hope that it will somehow open. If they need inspiration they need look no further than their own club’s hurlers who lost six county finals in a row between 2003 and 2008. Their critics said they would never do it but in 2010 they came back again and broke the hoodoo with a final win over Cushendall, before going on to win four-in-a-row, and All Ireland title into the bargain.

Slaughtneil go in again as the hottest of favourites, and rightly so, for they are a magnificent team. But Loughgiel are not without a chance and with a bit of self-belief, and an even break of the ball, who knows what could happen.  

Slaughtneil were in control when the sides last met in Glen Maghera back on December 4th

Humpy back with the ‘Town

There has been lots of speculation about the future of former Ballycastle and Antrim All Star Paul ‘Humpy’ McKillen since he stepped down as manager of the Antrim Camogs following their All Ireland Intermediate Championship final win over Kilkenny in September.

Humpy and his good friend Jingo McKernan had been at the helm for two years taking them to two All Ireland finals, the first of which they lost to Down in 2020 and the second which saw them clinch the title against Kilkenny. After two intense seasons the pair of them decided to step away and take a break. There were stories stating that the two of them had joined forces with former Oisins and Antrim star Johnny McIntosh and were taking over Armagh for next season, but Paul has been in touch with the Saffron Gael to straighten out matters. While admitting there was an element of truth in the original story the Cross & Passion College caretaker wanted to point out that although he had told Jingo he would take a few sessions with the Armagh girls later in the summer, he did not want to commit to be part of the management and what that all would entail.

Instead he is going back to where it all started with his home club Ballycastle, one which obviously is very close to his heart. “I started my days in management there when my girls were playing and I have decided that is where I will finish it”

Humpy is joined by Martin ‘Peeko’ McIlroy, Donal Cunningham and is waiting on confirmation from Colum Maguire to complete the team. Personal trainer Mark Lyons will be in charge of the fitness end of things.

Paul is looking forward the challenge, and after a welcome break he can’t wait to get back in action with girls in black and amber.