Ballyhale face second battle for All-Ireland camogie crown

Ballyhale Shamrocks players after the final whistle is blown which ended the game in a draw. AIB All-Ireland Intermediate Camogie Club Championship Final, Ballyhale Shamrocks v Lismore, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE
Ballyhale Shamrocks and Lismore (Waterford) must do it all again. After playing a thrilling draw in Croke Park on Sunday, the pair must lock horns again on Sunday, March 16 to reach a decision.

Ballyhale Shamrocks and Lismore (Waterford) must do it all again. After playing a thrilling draw in Croke Park on Sunday, the pair must lock horns again on Sunday, March 16 to reach a decision.

Ballyhale, who were aiming to be the first Kilkenny club to claim the intermediate camogie All-Ireland title, were only minutes away from making history. However, two late points from battling Lismore turned joy into disappointment for the Cats.

Still, all is not lost. It is really only half-time in this decider.

“It was a day of all the emotions,” admitted Shamrocks manager, John Kenneally.

“At half-time we would have taken a draw. Ten minutes from the end we thought we had the match won.

“In the end I suppose we were a bit lucky to hold out, but we weren’t beaten, that was the important thing. Whatever teams wants it most now can win the replay.

“We will be ready, and we will give it our best shot. The girls feels they have more to offer. They will get it out of themselves the next time.”

Lismore opened the scoring within 30 seconds when flying midfielder, Nicola Morrissey, latched on to a breaking ball 45 metres out and cut through the Ballyhale defence before putting it over the bar to open Lismore’s account. Ballyhale were guilty of wayward shooting in the opening stages, but they opened their account from a Kelly Anne Cottrell free after a foul on Emilie Darmody.

This left the score at 0-1 each after five minutes. Keeva Fennelly put the Shamrocks a point ahead a minute later after latching on to a breaking ball after great play by the forwards.

Ruth Geoghegan levelled for the Deise women after making a defence splitting 45 metre run before tap over from 15 metres. Ballyhale had their first goal chance of the game when Emilie Darmody pounced on a breaking ball, but the Lismore defence did well to close here down before clearing their lines.

Jennifer Hannon put Lismore ahead again when she raced on to a sideline cut to put over from 30 metres out. This left Lismore 0-3 to 0-2 ahead after 12 minutes.

Ballyhale had another goal chance in the 13th minute, a free from Keeva Fennelly from 45 metres out at the Cusack stand side dropped short and Emilie Darmody was in on it after Lismore didn’t cleared their lines. The ball went wide, much to the relieve of the Lismore backs.

One would be forgiven at this stage for thinking that those missed opportunities might come back to haunt the Shamrocks women. Aoife Hannon put Lismore two points clear after a foul on Jennifer Hannon on the 17 minutes, and another massive free from 65 metres from Shona Curran put Lismore further ahead, 0-5 to 0-2 after 20 minutes.

At this stage of the game the Shamrocks defence was struggling to cope with the pacey Lismore forwards, and they were conceding frees. Ballyhale made their first substitute on the 23rd minute with Grace Fennelly came in for Lucy Elvidge.

Ruth Geogehegan put over a point from play in the 23rd minute after a 2o metre run to put Lismore 0-6 to 0-3 ahead. At this stage Ballyhale badly needed a score to stem the tide.

They got it in the 24th minute when Kelly Anne Cottrell put over from a place ball after a foul on Keeva Fennelly. Ballyhale finished the half the better. They were causing the Lismore defence some problems, but they just couldn’t make this possession count and reflect their possession on the scoreboard.

They went in behind by 0-6 to 0-3 at half time.

One had a feeling that if Ballyhale could stop conceding frees in their defence and got quicker ball into the forward line that they were a great opportunity there for them to claim the win.

Ballyhale started the second half well. They had their first score on the ’board from Kelly Anne Cottrell after a foul on 31st minute to narrow the Lismore lead to 0-6 to 0-4. The crucial score of the game came in the 32nd minute when first half sub Grace Fennelly got the ball 20 metre line and played it to Mags Fennelly, who was on the edge of the small square. Mags put the ball at the second attempt into the back of the Lismore net.

This big score put the Shamrocks 1-4 to 0-6 ahead after just two minutes of the new half. The score really brought Ballyhale to life and they completely dominated play, especially in the transformed defence, during the next few minutes. They never gave Lismore an inch.

Ballyhale had a chance to wrap up the game in the 42nd minute when Keeva Fennelly pounced on a breaking ball 21 metres out. She hand passed it into Mags Fennelly, but her ground shot went painfully wide.

Lismore opened their second half account in the 44th minute, their first score in 12 minutes, from a brilliant long range free from Shona Curran to level the game 0-7 points to 1-4. Cottrell put Ballyhale ahead again in the 49th min from a placed ball after a foul on Keeva Fennelly, who was an inspiring force in the Ballyhale fight back.

Ballyhale went two adrift in the 52nd minute, a free from Jackie Frisby from her own half dropped to Kelly Anne Cottrell, who passed to Keeva Fennelly, who tapped over from 20 metres. This put Ballyhale two clear, 1-6 to 0-7 with six minutes remaining. It looked like celebration time!

There were still a bit of fight in strong willed Lismore. Two points from play in the 57th minute from Nicola Morrissey and a monster score from Aoife Hannon from 50 metres out brought them level again.

There was a nervous remaining few minutes for the Shamrocks defence, but they dealt with the Lismore pressure well and ensured they held on for a deserved draw.

In the end a draw was a fair result, but Ballyhale will feel that this was a chance that got away. The replay will be on St Patrick’s weekend, March 16. The venue will be decided later .

Scorers: Ballyhale Shamarocks - Margaret Mary Fennelly (1-0); Kellyanne Cottrell (0-4, frees); Keeva Fennelly (0-2). Lismore - N. Morrissey (0-3); S. Curran (0-2, one fre); A. Hannon (0-2, one free); R. Geoghegan (0-2).

Ballyhale Shamrocks - Ciara Fennelly, Clodagh Corcoran, Roisin Fennelly, Orna Fennelly, Emily O’Dwyer, Jacqui Frisby, Brena Fennelly, Catherine Connolly, Edel Frisby, Margare Mary Fennelly, Kellyanne Cottrell, Keeva Fennelly, Lucy Elvidge, Emilie Darmody, Eimear Fitzpatrick.Subs - Helen Dermody, Lorna Fennelly, Belita Fennelly, Jenny O’ Brien, Jillian O’ Dwyer, Deborah Walsh, Grace Fennelly, Tara Cody, Marita Butler, Leona Kinahan, Emma Nolan.

Lismore - A. O’Brien, S. Coughlan, S. Prendergast, M. Russell, A. Houlihan, S. Kiernan, S. Fenton, N. Morrissey, S. Curran, L. Buckley, G. Kenneally, A. Hannon, C. McGlone, J. Hannon, R. Geoghegan. Subs - B. O’Keeffe, J. Houlihan, S. Prendergast, S. Walsh, S. Geoghegan, S. Fennessy, S. Russell, R. Knowles, N. Molumphy, S. Bennett.

Referee - Cathal Egan (Cork).