Last gasp free denies Maghera girls

Maghera's Shauna Quinn breaks clear of Lydia Fitzpatrick
Maghera's Shauna Quinn breaks clear of Lydia Fitzpatrick

The senior camogie girls of St Patrick’s Maghera were denied a place in the All-Ireland College Senior A Camogie Final when reigning champions Loreto CS, Kilkenny fired over a last minute free to send a pulsating game to a replay.

That game will be played at a Derry venue with details yet to be confirmed. St Patrick’s will hope they can produce a performance to match their second half efforts on Saturday in Nowlan Park when they came so close to defeating their recent nemesis, Loreto CS, on their home patch.

Unfortunately, those efforts will count for nothing this weekend as both teams will start the replay with all to play for and the

prize of an All-Ireland Senior Camogie Final place for whoever can take it.

As much as their second half efforts were impressive, St Patrick’s will know they cannot afford to be off the pace as they were in the opening twenty minutes of the game.

Although facing a stiffening breeze the Derry girls were too often pushed on to the back foot as Loreto dominated the play.

A spread of Kilkenny scorers had Loreto in a 6 point lead before St Patrick’s raised a flag and but for some stout goal-line defending the games first goal might have pushed the game irretrievably towards the home side.

With the game moving towards half time St Patrick’s seemed to find a second wind and began matching the Kilkenny intensity and work rate, their reward coming through two Mairead McNicholl frees which promised some hope for the second period as they faced a 0-6 to 0-2 deficit.

Although Loreto opened with an excellent pointed 45, St Patrick’s were much closer to the level of performance needed. They were now the team dominating the play and bettering the champion’s intensity.

Scores were needed and the busy Dervla O’Kane got the first of these but Loreto were still dangerous and an excellent

Erin Burns save denied them another crucial goal. With the very impressive Caitlin Ní Cheallaigh and Clare Burns dominating Loreto’s play makers Aoife Ní Caiside and Shauna Quinn began to push their team forward.

In a ten minute spell Adrienne Gorman lit up the play as she fired three consecutive points to give St Patrick’s the belief they could still win the game.

A crucial break for them was the disallowing of a Lydia Fitzpatrick goal after she rampaged through the middle of the defence but did foul the ball before scoring. A Shauna Quinn point was cancelled by Fitzpatrick before St Patrick’s struck for the lead with a goal from Emer McNicholl.

Points were swapped but Loreto were not prepared to give up their title easily and a late surge in to the St Patrick’s half eventually yielded the crucial free which brought the game level and set up this weekend’s replay.

Replays are often won by the team which learns most from the drawn game and St Patrick’s must now be aware of the intensity and physicality with which their opponents play and must also work to prevent the goal chances which Loreto created and they will of course need to maximise their own scoring chances.

As well as they played at times on Saturday, it will not be enough to secure that All-Ireland final place if they do not achieve these things in this weekend’s game.

St Patrick’s scorers: E McNicholl 1-0, A Gorman 0-3, D O’Kane 0-2, M McNicholl 0-2, S Quinn 0-1.