Ulster Colleges Camogie – Corn Uan Uladh Final
St Pat’s, Maghera 3-6 St Louis, Ballymena 1-7
Friday January 17
Brendan McTaggart reports from Páirc Naomh Pádraig, An Lub
It took extra time under the floodlights in south Derry on a bitterly cold Friday evening but the large crowd in attendance at The Loup were treated to a match of top class camogie. It took extra time to separate the sides and goals from Clare Gunning and Blathnaid McLaughlin put St Pat’s Maghera in control in the first period of extra time and they proved to be decisive.
There wasn’t much between the two sides and indeed after 20 minutes, it looked like St Louis would finally end their long wait for another senior camogie title. They had the upperhand in those opening exchanges with Eimear McMullan, Brigid Delargy and Caoimhe Molloy all prominent but for all their pressure, they didn’t transfer that into points on the board.
St Pat’s dominated the closing stages of the first half and were denied a goal by the width of the crossbar and the brilliance of Orlagh Convery in nets. McCullagh’s effort coming back off the woodwork before Convery denied Gunning from close range.
Both defences were immense in the first half with Brigid Delargy for St Louis a rock in the full back line while Laura Scullion and Aimee Lennon excelled for a St Pat’s defence who performed heroically in the face of a constant barrage of pressure from St Louis in those opening 20 minutes.
St Pat’s fought back and trailed by just two points at half time with the score reading 0-4 to 0-2 at the short whistle. It may have been a low scoring encounter but the large crowd in attendance were kept intrigued in what was a titanic tussle between two evenly matched sides.
The second half began with more of the same high intensity camogie that had graced the opening half but St Pat’s struck first when they scored the first major of the final. Captain Céat McEldowney giving them the lead for the first time in the match and set up a grand stand ending to a gripping encounter.
St Louis responded with a quite brilliant goal of their own with eight minutes of normal time remaining. Caoimhe Molloy rifling the sliotar from 30 yards to the back of the St Pat’s net to give St Louis the lead once again. With bodies going down all over the field with cramp, the play became broken and there was nine minutes added at the end of the hour.
A late equalising point from Clare Gunning took the final to extra time where St Pat’s had that wee bit extra when it counted. Goals at the start of either period of extra time was the difference in the end with Gunning’s goal a touch of class. A brilliant touch and deft finish under pressure while McLaughlin’s goal was a predator’s instinct.
Overall St Pat’s just shaded a close contest. In joined captains Céat McEldowney and Laura Scullion they had two exceptional talents while Clare Gunning and player of the match Bronagh McCullagh were brilliant throughout. St Louis battled superbly to the very end and looked out on their feet at the final whistle in what was an energy sapping 80 plus minutes of schools camogie.
St Louis: Orlagh Convery; Maeve Mulholland, Brigid Delargy, Laura McAleese; Brónagh Laverty, Eimear McMullan, Sarah McIlhatton; Caoimhe Molloy, Maura Downey; Mary McKillen, Emma McAreavey, Caitlin Crawford; Katie Molloy, Aimee Traynor, Kyra Doherty
Subs: Aoibhin McCloskey for K Molloy (HT); Aimee Traynor for L McAleese (60)
Scorers: Caoimhe Molloy 103 (1 f); Maura Downey 0-2; Caitlin Crawford 0-1; Kyra Doherty 0-1
St Pat’s: Eimear McEldowney; Heather O’Hagan, Aisling Porter, Abi McNeill; Doireann Donnelly, Laura Scullion, Carla McEldowney; Bronagh McCullagh, Céat McEldowney; Leah Lennon, Clare Gunning, Evanne Martin; Cara McElwee, Aimee Lennon, Blathnaid McLaughlin
Subs: Niamh McCullagh for C McElwee (41); Emma Collins for D Donnelly (ET 1)
Scorers: Clare Gunning 1-2; Blathnaid McLaughlin 1-1; Céat McEldowney 1-00; Bronagh McCullagh 0-2; Evanne Martin 0-1
Referee: Mark O’Neill (Glen Rovers, Armoy)