Rower ladies chase All-Ireland spot

THE Rower-Inistioge camogie girls will face one of their biggest days ever on Sunday (1.30pm) and by around 3pm they will be hoping to be celebrating an appearance in the All-Ireland intermediate club championship final, which will be played on Sunday March 3, writes Michael O’Leary.

THE Rower-Inistioge camogie girls will face one of their biggest days ever on Sunday (1.30pm) and by around 3pm they will be hoping to be celebrating an appearance in the All-Ireland intermediate club championship final, which will be played on Sunday March 3, writes Michael O’Leary.

Kilmaley will make the trip from Clare in an ttempt to crush the Cats dream. The South Kilkenny contingent were the first Kilkenny club to win the Leinster intermediate championship last October when they defeated Shinrone of Offaly on a memorable cold sunny afternoon by the banks of the Nore in Inistioge.

That was preceded by a county championship success three weeks earlier when they easily defeated Tullaroan (3-10 to 0-8) to finally break their intermediate duck following defeats in the 2009 and 2010 deciders.

However, the dream is far from finished.

Since the deserved celebrations of their Leinster championship success, attention has turned to the pursuit of All-Ireland glory.

The girls have been training exceptionally hard under the stewardship of Michael Doyle, Mark Moore and John Galavan, and a number of their training schedules have been early morning sessions around the Christmas/New Year holidays.

On a mission

Don’t be fooled, these are girls on a mission in an attempt to bring back All-Ireland glory. The Rower-Inistioge have a mixture of youth and experience in their ranks.

Their central spine is very, very strong. In 19-year-old Emma Kavanagh they have a very reliable goalkeeper who is an excellent shot-stopper. She is always an assured and confident handler of the sliotar. Eimear Lyng at full-back has a considerable wealth of experience, while centre-back Kelly

Hamilton is a class act.

Throughout their success raid in the county and Leinster championships, Hamilton has played a valuable part with her point taking accuracy from placed balls, and she will have a vital part to play on Sunday. Last year’s inter-county under-16 player, Aine Gannon has operated at midfield, but her versatility means she is equally adept as a defender or a forward.

Team captain Lizzie Lyng will be another key player. Her experience and calming presence will be a vital factor as she leads the attack from centre-forward, while full-forward Catriona Ryan has been a revelation since arriving from neighbouring club Tullogher-Rosbercon.

The Kilkenny inter-county senior goalkeeper transferred to Rower-Inistioge due to the disbandment of her native club, and she created a habit of grabbing all important goals. Ryan scored 2-3 in the county senior final victory, while the Leinster final weekend was a memorable one for her personally as it was played on her 30th birthday.

She scored 1-3 in the victory over Shinrone, while also winning the player of the match award for good measure.

Strong defence

A major part of Rower-Inistioge’s success has been their defensive unit. In their three games from the county to the Leinster final, they conceded a miserly 3-3 from play in over three hours of action, which is a very impressive giveaway return.

If a similar scenario applies on Sunday, then surely an All-Ireland final place in Croke Park beckons.

Clare camogie has made massive strides over the past few year. The minor team contested three consecutive All-Ireland finals from 2008 to 2010, while their senior team continues to progress.

Last year they bridged a 66-year gap to win their first Munster senior championship since 1946, while during the All-Ireland championship they dished out a 12-point hammering to Tipperary before succumbing to Cork in the quarter-final.

Kilmaley are the Clare senior champions. They won a hard fought county decider, defeating Clooney-Quin by 1-8 to 0-9. A 7th minute goal from county senior Shonagh Enright sent them on their way to victory.

Full-back Denise Lynch and Kate Cahill played in those respective positions at inter-county level throughout 2012, while Niamh O’Dea was an All-Star nominee last November, while Claire McMahon was nominated 12 months previously.

Ailish Consodine is another inter-county senior who was a goalscorer in their championship rout of Tipperary last Summer. Kilmaley have experience of playing in an All-Ireland final.

Double header

In 2008 they lost out to the Harps of Durrow in the All-Ireland junior decider, with the Laois girls completing a hat-trick of consecutive All-Irelands in the process

Unquestionably, Kilmaley have a number of useful players, but the Rower-Inistioge, with quality and potential throughout their ranks, have the ability to beat anyone on their day. Throw-in is at 1.30pm in Nowlan Park.

The other semi

The other semi-final will be between Castlegar of Galway and Ballycran of Down, in Duggan Park, Ballinasloe (1pm). That will precede the All-Ireland senior semi-final between Killimor of Galway and O’Donovan Rossa of Antrim.

The All-Ireland senior and intermediate finals will form a double header in Croke Park on Sunday, March 3.