Liberty Insurance Senior Camogie Championship
Saturday 20th June at 2.30pm in Newcastle West
Limerick made a winning return to Senior Camogie ranks with a hard fought 1-12 to 1-8 win over Offaly in Newcastle West on Saturday. This was Limerick's first win in the senior championship since 2005 and gets their campaign off to the best possible start.
The late withdrawal of Caoimhe Costelloe meant changes in the Limerick starting line-up with Killeedy’s Aisling Scanlon coming in at full-forward and a resulting reshuffle of the Limerick midfield and attack.
On a sunny day in Newcastle West, perfect conditions for camogie, the sizeable crowd were treated to a high quality entertaining senior camogie championship match. In an intense, physical encounter Offaly had the better of the opening half but would have felt they should gotten better return for their possession and have been further ahead at the break. However some dogged defending from Limerick, with captain Sarah Carey particularly impressive, restricted Offaly’s scores and the ever-reliable Niamh Mulcahy kept the Limerick scoreboard ticking over. Despite their dominance Offaly never got more than two points clear and the half finished with only a single point between the teams.
Limerick made two changes at the break with Caoimhe Costelloe coming in alongside Monaleen's Megan O'Mara. These changes had an immediate impact as Limerick started to dominate the middle of the field and the resulting pressure meant that Offaly conceded frees that were converted by Niamh Mulcahy to put Limerick ahead for the first time since the opening minutes of the game.
The key moment in the game came when a Niamh Mulcahy free from well inside the Limerick half dropped under the crossbar for a goal to put Limerick ahead 1-9 to 0-8. Limerick continued their domination and two further points including one from Caoimhe Costelloe widened the gap to put the Treaty girls firmly in control.
However there was fight in this experienced Offaly side yet and when Arlene Watkins broke past the Limerick defence she made no mistake and hit the back of the net to put her side firmly back in the game with 5 minutes to play. Offaly continued to press through the closing period but the Limerick defence held firm and in the final moments Niamh Mulcahy converted another free to put the result beyond doubt.
This was a great opening to Limerick’s campaign in what is without doubt the tougher of the two groups, as it includes the last three All-Ireland champions. Limerick will host current champions Cork on next Saturday in Kilmallock. Cork lost their opening clash by two points after a late Galway surge so a backlash is anticipated. However Limerick pushed the Leesiders hard in their League semi-final clash back in April and though they ultimately came short on that day such is their belief that this squad is well capable of causing an upset. Either way another great occasion is guaranteed and all Limerick supporters should make their way to Kilmallock on Saturday and support this great bunch of girls.
Sile Moynihan (Ahane), Marguerite McCarthy (Ahane), Lorraine McCarthy (Bruff), Judith Mulcahy (Ahane), Rebecca DeLee (Newcastle West), Sarah Carey (capt.) (Granagh Ballingarry), Fiona Hickey (Granagh Ballingarry), Sinead McNamara (Na Piarsaigh), Aoife Sheehan (Granagh Ballingarry), Karen O'Leary (Newcastle West), Niamh Mulcahy (Ahane), Caoimhe Lyons (Monaleen), Noreen Barry (Killeedy), Rebecca Noonan (Granagh Ballingarry), Deborah Murphy (Knockaderry)
Half-Time: Caoimhe Costelloe (Adare) for Karen O'Leary and Megan O'Mara (Monaleen) for Deborah Murphy
52 mins: Aisling Scanlon (Killeedy) for Noreen Barry
Limerick: Niamh Mulcahy 1-11 (1-8f), Caoimhe Costelloe 0-1
Offaly: Siobhán Flannery 0-4 (all frees), Arlene Walkinstown 1-0, Tina Hannon 0-2, Cailin Fitzgerald 0-1, Niamh Larkin 0-1
A master class by Limerick sharpshooter Niamh Mulcahy propelled Limerick to victory on their return to the All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship at Newcastle West on Saturday.
The Ahane markswoman accounted for all but one point of her side’s total as Joe Quaid’s charges dug out a vital and famous win in beautiful sunshine in the county capital.
On a historic day for the code in the county, Limerick captain Sarah Carey led her team out to the Promised Land of senior camogie and then went on to lead the rearguard action when the Shannonside girls came under pressure for periods in the first half and again late in the game when the Faithfull County girls were chasing redemption.
For ten of the Limerick starting fifteen, it was their first exposure to senior championship camogie. In the past Síle Moynihan, Judith Mulcahy, Sarah Carey, Niamh Mulcahy and Aoife Sheehan all graced the camogie fields at the top level. Limerick however, following promotion as intermediate champions in 2014 did not look in the slightest out of place and after a tentative first half, they quickly settled down in their new surroundings and marched to the county’s first success at this level since 2005.
“It took us 30 minutes to get up to the level of senior championship, the girls were a little nervous in the first half but for the second half they settled and produced an outstanding display. They believed in themselves in the second half and some of the defending that was done was unbelievable and the fight and spirit that they showed. It was a game we could have easily lost, when Offaly came back with the goal and we were then just three points up, they went down and won a free but we put it safe and that was just belief and hard work,” was the reaction of Limerick manager Joe Quaid.
Niamh Mulcahy got all the plaudits for her scoring exploits but Quaid is quick to share around the kudos “She is unbelievable, she gets most of the scores but the work that goes into Niamh getting the scores from everyone else is phenomenal. When you have Niamh Mulcahy in your side, you are in with a serious chance in any match”.
An indifferent first half gave way to the type of performance in the second half that is needed at this level. Captain Sarah Carey and Niamh Mulcahy were immense while the introduction of Caoimhe Costello and Megan O’Mara at half time made a huge difference. The Adare girl was named to start but missed out because of injury but Quaid summoned her into action for the second half and the impact was immediate. Costello combined well around the middle with Aoife Sheehan who was prominent throughout, to give Limerick the edge in that vital sector. O’Mara with her suite of sublime skills added energy around the middle third and made a clear statement that she is girl with a bright future.
Niamh Mulcahy had Limerick off the mark inside the opening minute but three in a row for the midlanders from Niamh Larkin, Cailín Fitzgerald and Siobhan Flannery helped them into an early 0-3 to 0-1 lead. Mulcahy and Tina Hannon exchanged minors before a brace from the Ahane woman had the sides level 0-4 apiece after 19 minutes.
An exquisite individual effort from Siobhan Flannery restored Offaly’s lead and after Mulcahy levelled matters again, Tina Hannon and Flannery slotted over to give the visitors a bit of a cushion as half time approached. Niamh Mulcahy ensured Limerick stayed in touch with her sixth point of the half which was the culmination of some great teamwork to leave just the minimum between the sides at the interval with wind assisted Offaly’s noses in front 0-7 to 0-6.
Scores were at a premium in the third quarter with Niamh Mulcahy slotting over three times before on the 45th minute, Siobhan Flannery landed a 45 to again leave the minimum between the sides 0-9 to 0-8 in Limerick’s favour.
The game changer came on the 50th minute when Mulcahy’s probing long range free deceived the Offaly defence and nestled in the net and now Limerick had breathing space on which they built on with white flags from Mulcahy and Caoimhe Costello.
Limerick were now dominant and appearing inexorably on course for victory until the 57th minute when in a rare incursion into Limerick territory, the home defence switched off and Arlen Watkins fired a thunderbolt to the Limerick net to give her side hope. Offaly came again and were repelled by Limerick’s uncompromising defence and then on 61 minutes Niamh Mulcahy floated over her eleventh minor of the hour to seal the deal.
Limerick: Niamh Mulcahy 1-11, 1-8f; Caoimhe Costello 0-1.
Offaly; Siobhan Flannery 0-4, 2f, 1-45; Arlene Watkins 1-0; Tina Hannon 0-2; Niamh Larkin, Cailín Fitzgerald 0-1 each.
Limerick: Sile Moynihan (Ahane); Marguerite McCarthy (Ahane); Lorraine McCarthy (Bruff), Judith Mulcahy (Ahane); Rebecca Delee (Newcastle West), Sarah Carey (Captain) (Granagh Ballingarry), Fiona Hickey (Granagh Ballingarry); Aoife Sheehan (Granagh-Ballingarry), Sinead McNamara (Na Piarsaigh); Karen O'Leary (Newcastle West), Niamh Mulcahy (Ahane), Caoimhe Lyons (Monaleen); Noreen Barry (Killeedy), Rebecca Noonan (Granagh Ballingarry), Deborah Murphy (Knockaderry).
Subs: Caoimhe Costello (Adare) for Murphy (HT), Megan O’Mara (Monaleen) for O’Leary (HT), Aisling Scanlon (Killeedy) for Barry (523).
Offaly: Eleanor Clendennen; Fiona Stephens, Jean Brady, Linda O’Sullivan; Aisling Brennan, Michaela Morkan, Marian Crean; Róisín Egan, Arlene Watkins: Cailín Fitzgerald, Lorraine Keenan, Orlaigh Kirwin; Niamh Larkin, Siobhan Flannery, Tina Hannon.
Subs: Aoife Kelly for Egan (HT), Rachel Brennan for Kirwin (43), Patrice Delaney for Larkin (56), Mairead Jennings for Hannon (57).
Referee: Cathal Egan, Cork.