Naas senior camogie bounce into county final   24/09/2018

Senior camogie championship semi-final.  23rd September 2018.

Naas 2-11 Clane 0-08

Naas qualified for the senior camogie championship final – their first since 1960 – on foot of a lively victory over a gallant and gracious Clane side in Eire Óg on Sunday.

This was a serious game of attacking camogie. Not a sweeper in sight. Tremendous value for money on a gorgeous autumnal afternoon. Camogie played in this entertaining spirit – not a dirty stroke nor an un-kind word – is pure theatre. And a credit to all involved.

This was a good overall squad performance from an emergent Naas and a well-deserved win on the balance of play. That said, however, the fortuitous - but crucially important - two-goal salvo in the 15th (Ailbhe Ryan) and 19th (Aoife Stynes) minutes did have a significant bearing on the final outcome. In truth, Clane never really recovered from those body blows.

Clane had actually started very brightly and won frees in attack with relative ease – three of these were converted (and another couple missed) by the time Naas got going at the clubhouse end. Ciara Egan was a constant threat early on for Clane and it took a good while for Naas to come to grips with her.

Áine Conway – who had a powerful game - had three first half frees for Naas while further excellent points from dangerous attackers Tara Bedford and Caoimhe Maher kept the scoreboard ticking over; these points on top of the two long-range goals meant that Naas went in at the break with a decent seven point cushion, despite Clane probably having had as much of the play as Naas.

Half-time Naas 2-6 Clane 0-5

There was no denying Naas from then on, however. Clane couldn’t force the sliotar past mid-field for the third quarter and indeed their second-half 0-3 tally (all scored in the final ten minutes) were mere consolation scores when they really needed goals. Those goals weren’t coming. Joelenne Hoary was very sound on her goal-line and her distribution was a launch-pad for many Naas attacks in the second half. Those attacks were spearheaded by Hannah Goodfellow who pulled the strings and who had the big crowd enthralled with her silky first-touches and accurate passing. Further points from Tara Bedford and Áine Conway stretched the Naas lead by the 50th minute (2-10 to 0-6) and it was all over barring a disaster.

A cameo appearance from Roisín Tobin from the 52nd minute really stole the show and she was un-lucky to register only a single point having set the Clane full-back line some interesting challenges – all thanks to a plentiful supply of pin-point ball from further afield. The orchestrator of all this was Caoimhe Maher, who was everywhere. Only nominally in midfield, she had two delightful points while attacking and she was often prominent dug-in around her own half-back line whenever danger threatened there.

Fiona Trant started well on the left-wing, winning every ball and stretching the Clane defence while Sarah Cullen fought herself to a stand-still on the edge of the square. Sarah came off to a rousing reception in the final few minutes with all the battles well won. Hannah Cusack and Molly Ryan came on and raised the tempo again. The last thing Clane needed at that stage.

Tara Breen, Laoise Dunne and Aoife Fitzgerald all did great jobs limiting any damage on the left side of the Naas defence while Niamh Tuohy and Maria Doyle were a solid backbone down the middle. Kelly Perkins and Ailbhe Ryan had brilliant second-halves and could be seen emerging from the rucks with ball-after-ball at the height of the struggle after half-time.

For once, Naas didn’t have their fans on the edge of their seats and everybody associated with the effort could enjoy the moment, for once, as the clock counted down. It wasn’t as dramatic a match as the drawn game but there was better pure hurling. Joyful stuff at times.

It was a fantastic display – and a happy occasion for all from Naas who were lucky enough to be there .

We go again next Sunday.

Hon the Hoops.

Naas : Joelenne Hoary, Kelly Perkins, Niamh Tuohy, Aoife Fitzgerald, Anna Blake, Maria Doyle, Laoise Dunne, Aoife Stynes (1-0), Caoimhe Maher (0-2), Hannah Goodfellow, Ailbhe Ryan (1-0), Áine Conway (0-6), Tara Bedford (0-2), Sarah Cullen, Fiona Trant, Ellen O’Boyle, Lorna Kearns, Gráinne Dowling, Síofra Mernagh, Ciara Friel, Emily Quinn, Kerrie Lewis, Anna Kennedy, Molly Ryan, Ciara Brown, Emer Hegarty, Kate Doorey, Roisín Tobin (0-1), Hannah Cusack, Tara Breen.

SOTS : Caoimhe Maher.

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