PLAYING with the elements paid off as the Rower-Inistioge ‘breezed’ their way into an All-Ireland intermediate camogie final, winning by 2-9 to 1-5, writes Michael O’Leary.
The Kilkenny girls used a strong wind at their backs to post an intimidating first half lead which, in the end, proved too much for Clare outfit Kilmaley to scale in Nowlan Park on Sunday.
Although the Rower faded in the second half, the real damage was done during the opening half in which they built up a 12-point advantage on their Munster opponents (2-7 to 0-1).
The Rower opened up a three-point lead (0-4 to 0-1) by the 17th minute thanks to a hat-trick of Kelly Hamilton placed balls, while Catriona Ryan fired over a superb effort from play.
The crucial spell of that first half came inside two minutes. Aoife Lyng weaved her magic, rattling off two goals to propel her side on their way.
The first major strike came in the 22nd minute, when strong play saw Kelly Hamilton drive a long clearance into the path of Lizzie Lyng.
Picking up possession, Lyng fired a shot goalwards. Kilmaley goalkeeper Edel Griffey couldn’t control the sliotar and was punished when Aoife Lyng pounced (1-4 to 0-1).
Two minutes later, Lyng was at it again. There was a touch of good fortune about her second goal as a point attempt crept under the Kilmaley crossbar at the last second, much to the delight of the Rower players and their supporters.
Although they now had a nine-point cushion (2-4 to 0-1), the Rower weren’t finished. Kelly Hamilton tacked on two more frees, to which Lizzie Lyng added an excellent point from play in the 29th minute, to leave the Kilkenny girls boasting a 12-point advantage at the break (2-7 to 0-1).
To their credit, Kilmaley gave a spirited display during the second half. With full-back Deirdre Lynch leading the way they outscored the Rower by four points (1-4 to 0-2).
The Kilkenny club’s defence was under more pressure during that second moiety, but with Eimear Lyng and Kelly Hamilton leading the way they withstood the challenge.
Emma O’Driscoll was Kilmaley’s goalscorer, rattling the net in the 41st minute. Claire McMahon and Deirdre Lynch were the point-scorers, bagging a brace apiece - each converted a free and a 45 - to increase their side’s scoring total.
The Rower-Inistioge were not as disciplined in that second half, conceding a number of frees. Their tempo also dropped after the break, but Kilmaley had been left with too much to do to force their way back into the reckoning.
Kelly Hamilton was a class apart at centre-back and flawless too when it came to scoring, converting all seven of her chances. Eimear Lyng was also superb at full-back, making a key block late in the game when Kilmaley threatened to make a comeback.
Others to impress were Briona Langton, who played a key role in midfield, and 16-year-old Aine Gannon, as the Rower roared into their All-Ireland final, which will be played in March.
SCORERS: Rower-Inistioge - Kelly Hamilton (0-7, 0-6 frees, 0-1 45); Aoife Lyng (2-0); Catriona Ryan, Lizzie Lyng (0-1 each). Kilmaley - Emma O’Driscoll (1-0); Claire McMahon (0-3, 0-2 frees, 0-1 45); Deirdre Lynch (0-2, 0-1 free, 0-1 45).
Rower-Inistioge - E. Kavanagh, J. Cullen, E. Lyng, B. Dempsey, E. Hynes, K. Hamilton, C. Lyng, A. Gannon, B. Langton, S. O’Mahoney, L. Lyng, B. White, C. Lyng, C. Ryan, A. Lyng. Sub: T. Kennedy for O’Mahoney, 41 mins.
Kilmaley - E. Griffey, L. Kennedy, D. Lynch, S. O’Halloran, N. Cahill, K. Cahill, E. Considine, A. Griffey, N. O’Dea, S. Enright, E. O’Driscoll, C. McMahon, H. McMahon, A. O’Halloran, A. Considine. Subs: L. Higgins, S. O’Keeffe for McMahon.
Referee - Mike O’Kelly (Cork).