2019 All Ireland Club Senior & Intermediate Camogie Championship
All-Ireland Camogie Intermediate Club Final
Clonduff and Gailltír Decider to Go Down to the Wire
Sunday’s All Ireland intermediate camogie final will see a new name engraved on the Agnes O’Farrelly Cup as Down and Ulster champions Clonduff take on Gailltír of Waterford. It should prove to be an engrossing contest.
This Clonduff team have been on the block around Ulster for a while. For the camogie cognoscenti, they first appeared on the radar with a trip to the Dubai sevens, back in 2008. And they always had a reputation as a camogie club that enjoyed the craic but enjoyed their camogie even more.
Fionnuala Carr is a legend of the game in Ulster, she featured prominently for Jordanstown and subsequently studied in UCC where she picked up invaluable experience to drop back into Club and county. Tellingly Fionnnuala was also part of an Ulster team that won a senior Gael Linn fielding alongside the likes of All Stars Jane Adams and Gráinne McGoldrick. That was a statement win back in the day and gave optimism and confidence to many Ulster camogie players.
Featuring the smarts of Paula O’Hagan and Fionnuala, the Yellas are a force to be reckoned with. They had nine players on the Down team that was defeated in the All Ireland Intermediate Final in September including star attacker Sarah Louise Graffin (Carr) who was controversially sent off in the game. Sarah Louise poses a significant goal threat for the Yellas and the Down outfit will pose more than their fair share of trouble to Gailltír in the early throw in on Sunday at Croker.
It’s hard to credit that until 2007 Clonduff camogie had won every honour in Down except the Senior County Championship. Their success that year was met with sheer delight in Hilltown, and in 2015 after winning the Ulster title they succumbed to three goals from eventual All Ireland winners Piltown in the semi-final.
The team are Croker bound, older and wiser and more determined, and can boast some fine young camogie players in Ulster Colleges All Stars Clara Cowan, and Beth Fitzpatrick. In goals they feature Karen Haughey who earlier in her career was a silky and skilful attacker.
The team features a good mixture of youth and experience. Eight different players were on the scoresheet in the Ulster final. That’s a useful threat to have across a panel. Training like demons four times a week, Ulster camogie folks are wondering aloud, can they do it.
Gailltír are probably slight favourites to lift the All Ireland title after clinching the tough Waterford championship in the narrowest fashion possible and moving on to win Munster in a great end to the club’s 60th year in operation. The final score in the county final against De La Salle was 1-17 to 2-13 with Fitzgerald cousins Annie and Aoife firing in1-12 between them. An all Ireland intermediate to match Deise rivals Lismore would go down a treat
Key players for the Deise outfit are Áine Lyng, Annie Fitzgerald and Aoife Fitzgerald, the latter two cousins who assume the main scoring duties.
One player that could feature on Sunday is Trish Jackman who currently works as a lecturer in Lincoln University. A few years back she revealed she had made around twenty round trips home to Waterford for camogie. Put it this way if your club was in an All-Ireland final you’d be there. Right? And if you’re going to be there and can still swing a hurley and run the management will want you to play? Right?
So we won’t be surprised to see Trish join her sister Ciara at some stage on the field. Captain Ciara Dunne of Gailltír revealed her teaching colleague, one Derek McGrath has been in giving a few words of advice and taking a session. Anything to get over the line and make that crucial difference.
Best wishes to both teams on Sunday as they strive for All Ireland glory.
All-Ireland Camogie Senior Club final
The Knowns and The Unknowns
Sunday’s senior camogie final in Croke Park pits the formidable reigning champions Slaughtneil from Derry against an emerging St Martins side from Wexford. Given the experience, personnel and management experience in the Derry ranks the conventional wisdom says the Bill and Agnes Carroll Cup will be heading north again. However the St Martins outfit are coached by one of the greats of modern camogie in JJ Doyle and feature their own array of talent. On a good day, dry surface and the wide open spaces of Croke Park, the makings are there of a really good quality game of camogie.
Slaughtneil are a battle hardened and tough to crack camogie team that are favourites to annex a fantastic three in a row All Ireland club titles. The team is backboned by the three Ní Casaide sisters Aoife, Éilis and Bronagh, sweeper Louise Dougan and the forward attacking flair of Offaly native Tina Hannon. Add in the energy and skill of former Antrim player Shannon Graham in midfield and you can see the spine of the team is rock solid.
Whilst these players mentioned would grace any county team, the panel has tremendous strength and depth with the likes of Bridin McAllister and Ceat McEldowney still at school and there is a strong bond between players and management, led by ‘Cob’ McEldowney with former Antrim manager Woody McKinley & former hurling Derry coach Michael Glover part of the set up. The approach is akin to that of a county team with gps, S&C programmes and so on, and crucially with the players taking the lead on driving the effort forward. There is a tight knit atmosphere around the camp
Roots of this Slaughtneil team go back with the emergence of a golden generation across the club in male and female sport. It is a small hard core rural community on the side of Carntogher that shares a Parish with Swatragh, home of Anthony Tohill Ruairi Convery. The recent successes in hurling and camogie are the fruits of a generation of players brought through by the late Thomas Cassidy who quite literally drove the games on, buying a bus and driving kids himself to games across Derry and Ulster. Thomas passed away before Slaughtneil annexed their first Ulster but his flame burns in his daughter’s, nieces and all the players. Slaughtneil had a slow burn before their breakthrough success, but that in turn led to a panel of depth and the icing on the cake arrived with family circumstance leading to Shannon Graham and then Tina Hannon joining the club.
Team captain Gráinne Ní Cathain told the Camogie Association, “Everyone is level-headed going into the game. We haven’t faced St Martin’s before, so it’s a new challenge. They look to be a very tough team. They play a tight game, and are very physical. Our preparation is going well, the mood is good and we’re hopeful our form will stay strong.”
St Martins for their part have been steadily progressing in recent years. Coached now by JJ Doyle who had the Midas touch with the Wexford senior team and the Wexford u21 hurlers, St Martins have won back to back Wexford championships backed up with a Leinster in 2018. Although Thomastown played the most of the Leinster Final with 14 players following an early red card, any viewing of the Wexford outfit shows a team blessed with youth and experience.
The team features a core of experience starting with Mags Darcy in goals. Katie O’Connor told RTE.ie “We probably gained some confidence from last year, that bit of belief. JJ has always tried to instill belief into us. From the first day he came in, he said to us that we don’t realise the potential that we have here. I think this year we started to realise we were well capable of competing with all these big teams.
JJ has been everything,"
In addition to Darcy, St Martin’s field with veteran 36 year old Noeleen Lambert, and rising star Ciara O'Connor. They have tremendous pace with attackers of the caliber of Chloe Foxe and Amy Cardiff. Their ability to run at the opposition may be a worthwhile tactic against a Slaughtneil side that often lines up with Dougan sweeping.
In Croke Park, two teams with pace that like to attack, it could be a real spectacle on a good fast sod.
All the very best to both teams from O’Neills.