Ballyhale Shamrocks booked their place in the AIB All-Ireland intermediate camogie club championship final on March 2 after scoring a hard earned one point win over Portumna in Moneygall on Sunday, writes T.J. Mills.
What the Ballyhale Shamrocks men can do on the hurling field, the women can match on the camogie front. The talented ladies will be hoping to turn their big day out into a huge celebration as they case their first national title.
It has been a tough, tough campaign for the Southerners, who have showed great spirit and courage in many a tough and tight battle. They brought their sparking form from the Leinster final into play, and it paid rich dividends.
The game will not be remembered as a free scoring contest as all the scores in the first half were from place balls. And one got the feeling early on that this was going to be a tense and tight affair.
Ballyhale made the better start to the game, but did not capitalised on their early possession. They opened their account in the second minute with a Kellyann Cottrell point from a free. Cottrell was prominent in all the early attacks by the winners.
Portumna opened their account in the fourth minute from a Tara Ruttledge 45 after great Ballyhale defending. The winners went back in front when Cottrell shot over two frees in the 10th and 12th minutes. The third of Cottrell’s frees was a real gem. She put the sliotar straight between the posts from an awkward angle.
This put Ballyhale 0-3 points to 0-1 ahead after 15 minutes. This was the Shamrocks last score of the half. The Portumna women caught them in a vice like grip and started to dominate possession.
They did not convert this possession into scores until the 24th when Ruttledge put over a 45. This narrowed the gap to a point. Portumna equalised in the 29th minute from another Tara Ruttledge place ball. They edged 0-4 to 0-3 in front after Ruttledge converted a 45 on the stroke of half time.
One had a feeling that the first goal could be the deciding factor in the game.
Portumna got the opening score of the second half. Tara Ruttledge continued where she left off when she put over a free in the 34th minute.
Ballyhale did have their next score until the 40th minute. It was well worth the long wait. Keeva Fennelly latched on to a breaking ball, cut straight through the Portumna defence before planting the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
This terrific score put the Shamrocks 1-3 to 0-5 ahead after 40 minutes. Ballyhale finished the game very well. They scored a second goal in the 57th after Mags Fennelly raced on to a ball 50 yards out.
She sprinted towards the target and drilled a powerful shot high into the roof of the Portumna net. The losers hit back for a pointed free from Tara Ruttledge on the stroke of full time and a Hazel Treacy point in added time.
Ballyhale held out and set up an All-Ireland final clash against Liatroim Fontenoys (Down) or Lismore (Waterford) on March 2.
Scorers: Ballyhale Shamrocks - Kellyanne Cottrell (0-3, frees); Keeva Fennelly (1-0); Margaret Mary Fennelly (1-0). Portumna - Tara Ruttledge (0-6, three frees, three 65s’); Hazel Treacy (0-1).
Ballyhale Shamrocks - Ciara Fennelly, Brena Fennelly, Roisin Fennelly, Orna Fennelly, Emily O’Dwyer, Jacqui Frisby, Clodagh Corcoran, Catherine Connolly, Edel Frisby, Margaret Mary Fennelly, Kellyanne Cottrell, Keeva Fennelly, Eimear Fitzpatrick, Emlie Darmody (capt), Lucy Elvidge.
Subs - Helen Darmody, Lorna Fennelly, Belita Fennelly, Jenny O’ Brien, Jillian O’ Dwyer, Deborah Walsh, Grace Fennelly, Tara Cody, Marita Butler, Leona Kinahan, Emma Nolan.
Portumna - Niamh McClearn, Emma Ruttledge, Trish Burke, Lindsay McClearn, Philippa Coleman, Maeve Moran, Lorraine Conroy (capt), Triona Byrne, Katie O’ Brien, Tara Ruttledge, Megan Moran, Hazel Treacy, Tara Harte, Nicola Muldoon, Caoimhe Horan.
Subs: Shannon Whelan, Amy Moran, Brenda McClearn, Lisa Moran, Orla O’Brien, Mary Burke, Rhona Geraghty.
Referee - Mike O’Kelly (Cork).