Minors dig deep to win thrilling semi final
by PRO on the 1st of September 2021
Kilkenny 3-21 (30)
Galway 1-25 (28) (AET)
It took twenty minutes of extra time to separate Kilkenny and Galway in the Tesco All-Ireland Minor camogie semi-final on Saturday afternoon in Abbottstown. The sides delivered a classic contest at the Blanchardstown venue with the effort and commitment from the players on both sides of the highest order.
When these sides met at Under 16 level two years ago the Westerners enjoyed a healthy double-digit success over the Noresiders. While both teams showed changes from their 2019 encounter, during the opening quarter it did look as if Galway were shaping up for a repeat of the Under 16 game result such was their dominance.
After nine minutes Galway led 1-3 to no score, a fair indication of the control that the Westerners had on the game, even if they enjoyed wind advantage. The superb Katie Gilchrist at full-forward had the ball in the Kilkenny net after a minute and with Sabina Rabbitte dominant at centre half forward, the task facing the young Kilkenny kittens looked daunting. Galway were quicker to the ball and their combination play had Kilkenny in all sorts of bother.
Emma Manogue got Kilkenny off the mark with a point on nine minutes with an excellent individual effort. Galway continued to press forward and flying wing forward Niamh McInerney got the first of her six points after a fine run.
From an early stage the scoring threat of Thomastown’s Sarah Barcoe appeared to be Kilkenny’s best chance of scores and she brought the margin back to four points with a brace of white flags. Another Galway point from Laura Kelly saw Galway lead 1-5 to 0-3 at the first water-break.
Stern words were clearly spoken at that short water-break because Kilkenny were far more competitive during the second quarter, even if Galway still enjoyed the bulk of the possession.
Kilkenny scored three points through Amy Clifford and another from Asha McHardy, but Galway through the mercurial Katie Gilchrist and Niamh McInerney led at the interval 1-9 to 0-7.
The excitement and tempo grew considerably in the second half as Kilkenny upped their work rate considerably. A Kilkenny goal from sub Claire Doheny after four minutes left three points between the teams, but more importantly, the winners started to play with greater confidence.
Galway were heavily dependent on Katie Gilchrist and Niamh McInerney for their scores and as the game ebbed to a third quarter conclusion, they still held a healthy six-point lead. Right on the whistle for that water-break Sarah Barcoe came to Kilkenny’s rescue with a superb goal. Now the margin was back to three points and the momentum was with Kilkenny.
A brace of points from Amy Clifford left the minimum between the sides two minutes into the fourth quarter. Kilkenny’s work rate was terrific, but too often the ball was played in the direction of Galway’s spare defender Ciara Hickey who dominated the central defensive position.
A brace of points from the superb Asha McHardy, who was now playing at midfield, left a point between the sides, but when Katie Gilchrist and Sabina Rabbitte pointed for Galway their place in the All-Ireland Final seemed assured. But the battling Kilkenny players refused to yield. When the lively Sarah Barcoe gained possession and rounded her marker there was no stopping her blistering shot. The game was now level and extra time would be needed to separate two great teams.
An Amy Clifford pointed free two minutes into extra time saw Kilkenny lead for the first time in the game. But Kilkenny did not hold that lead for long as Katie Gilchrist and Niamh McInerney continued to tap over the points for Galway. The Westerners led 1-23 to 3-16 at half time in extra time, but Kilkenny were the dominant side in the second period scoring 0-5 to Galway’s 0-2.
Penalties loomed until substitute Sarah O’Donnell & the outstanding Sarah Barcoe slotted over two late points for Kilkenny and nothing epitomised the Kilkenny effort better than the last score when sub Ellen Gunner and Sarah Barcoe disposed two Galway defenders, with the young Thomastown player pointing to send Kilkenny into the All-Ireland Final next weekend against Cork in Limerick.
Kilkenny had many stars in this memorable victory. None was better than Laoise Nolan at corner back in the first half when Kilkenny were under incessant Galway pressure. Niamh Phelan, Áine Kirwan, Emma Manogue, Asha McHardy, Amy Clifford and Player of the Match Sarah Barcoe were others to stand out for Kilkenny. Subs Sarah O’Donnell and Claire Doheny also played important roles in Kilkenny’s win.
For Galway Katie Gilchrist, Niamh McInerney, Ciara Hickey, Katie Ann Porter, Sabina Rabbitte and Ally Hesnan were best.
Ellie O’Neill; Laoise Nolan; Niamh Phelan; Rachel Brennan; Áine Kirwan; Mairead Corcoran; Sontae Jackson; Enna Manogue (0-2); Anna Doheny; Emma Mulhall; Asha McHardy (0-4); Katie Byrne; Sarah Barcoe (2-5); Emma Shortall (0-1); Amy Clifford (0-8, 0-5 Frees).
Subs – Sarah O’Donnell (0-1); Claire Doheny (1-0); Rachel Whelan; Grainne Glynn; Ellen Gunner.
Laura Feeney; Tara Maher; Sarah Lyons; Anna Larkin; Caoimhe Starr; Ciara Hickey; Katie-Ann Porter; Laura Kelly (0-1); Ally Hesnan; Niamh McInerney (0-6); Sabina Rabbitte (0-3); Megan Gannon; Olwen Rabbitte; Katie Gilchrist (1-14, 0-8 Frees)); Orla Mullins.
Subs – Ciara Grealish; Chloe Farragher (0-1); Emma Madden; Jessica Dolan; Laoise Kirwan.
Referee – Gavin Donegan.
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