Steely Village hold their nerve to reach first Leinster final

by on the 23rd of November 2022

AIB Leinster Intermediate Club Semi Final

James Stephens 0-9
St Brigid’s 0-8

By Martin Quilty

The chance to claim a first Leinster title is up for grabs after the James Stephens camogie team mounted a storming comeback to book their place in the intermediate decider. The Village women had to do it the hard way, coming from five points down at half-time to see off St Brigid’s at a chilly Pairc Sheamuis Stiophan on Saturday.

The Laois visitors made a bright start to the game, racing into an early lead. Eimear Hassett got the Saints up and running with a pointed free. Having doubled that lead with another free, by the eighth minute she had three points on the board. Things were looking bleak for the Village after those early exchanges as St Brigid’s, who brought physicality and hunger to the game, showed why they were pre-match favourites. By the end of the first quarter they had a healthy 0-5 to 0-0 lead, stretching their advantage through further points from Hassett and a thumper from Clodagh Tynan. The hosts made life hard for themselves in the first half, turning possession over to Brigid’s, while indiscipline led to the frees Hassett converted. The game didn’t get any easier, as passes went astray while Brigid’s also held the upper hand in the possession stakes. While they had some scoring chances, they didn’t threaten the Brigid’s goal on too many occasions.

Several more shots were taken to try and get that elusive goal but the Brigid’s backs held firm and didn’t concede. Brigid’s wing back Jessie Quinlan got her name on the scoresheet when she found her way up to the half forward line and latched onto a breaking ball, slotting over from 25 metres to get the visitors’ first score of the second half. They added another when Hassett converted a free to leave the visitors 0-8 to 0-5 ahead with 54 minutes gone on the clock. The Village kicked on, working hard to reduce the deficit. Emma Manogue, who was having another outstanding game for her club, bagged a point from play to leave two between the teams.

With the game on a knife-edge the large crowd was left on tenterhooks. With the volume increasing the support was unwavering, spurring on the home side. When O’Dwyer converted another free as the game headed into injury-time there was now just a point in it. One minute into added time, she had another chance to level matters up and possibly bring the game into extra time. With coolness she put the sliotar right over the black spot on the crossbar – the sides were now level for the first time in the game. The Village players could sense momentum was on their side and, with time almost up, they went for the jugular. One last attack from Niamh Deely, who made a great run through the Brigid’s defence, was halted with a foul – match referee Justin Heffernan awarded the Village a free. O’Dwyer stepped up to take what was a high- pressure free – score and her team was in the Leinster final. She was ice-cool, striking the sliotar straight and true to raise the white flag. The Village were now ahead!

There was still time for the puck-out and, right on the sideline about 45 metres out, St Brigid’s were awarded a free. Could there be even more late late drama?

Clodagh Tynan stepped up to take the free. Playing against the breeze her effort looked like it was going over but, right at the last second, it curled wide. The Village heaved a sigh of relief – the Leinster final spot was theirs!

Teams and Scorers

James Stephens – Sophie O’Dwyer (0-7, frees), Emma Manogue (0-2).

St Brigid’s – Eimear Hassett (0-5, frees), Clodagh Tynan (0-2), Jessie Quinlan (0-1).

James Stephens – Lucy McGrath; Chloe Power, Emma Gaffney, Hannah Larkin; Emma Manogue, Aoife Cantwell, Hanna Scott; Michelle Teehan, Anna Doheny; Sophie O’Dwyer, Niamh Deely, Niamh Brennan; Ciara Delaney, Rachel Leahy, Caoimhe Moran.

Subs: Emily Smith for Brennan, 42 mins; Tara McGuire for Moran, 56 mins.

St Brigid’s – Laura Dunne; Aoife Carroll, Roisin Kilmartin, Danielle Healy; Aoife Finlay, Clodagh Tynan, Jessie Quinlan; Maggie Fitzpatrick, Eimear Guidera; Alanna Tynan, Grainne Hyland, Laura Finlay; Avia Coss, Eimear Hassett, Aisling O’Dea.

Subs: Cathy Galbraith for Fitzpatrick, 40 mins; Sarah Creagh for A Tynan, 40 mins; Niamh Coss for Hyland, 50 mins.

Referee – Justin Heffernan (Wexford)

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