Eoghan Rua retained their Derry senior camogie title with a comprehensive 2-19 to 1-10 win over Slaughtneil in Swatragh last Sunday afternoon.
After a tough first half the eventual winners only led by a single point, 1-7 to 1-6, however they turned in a powerful second half performance to pull away for a handsome 12 point victory.
There really was nothing between the sides in that first half during which the physical exchanges were full blooded, the referee allowing the game to ‘flow’ pretty much unhindered. Slaughtneil will rue the missed chances in that first half when they had periods on top but were unable to convert possession into scores.
Meanwhile the Coleraine side battled well to eke out a one point lead in the first half before going on to fire over a series of well taken points from open play particularly during the final quarter.
The start to the second half was always going to be crucial and it was Eoghan Rua that made all the early running with three points in as many minutes to go four clear. The sides traded points and going into the last quarter there was still only three between the sides with Eoghan Rua up 1-11 to 1-8.
However with Eoghan Rua’s middle third getting completely on top an ocean of possession generated wave after wave of attacks culminating in a series of superb scores. Slaughtneil failed to score in the final quarter as Eoghan Rua added 1-8 without reply for a convincing twelve point victory.
A delighted Eoghan Rua manager Joe Passmore praised his team immediately after the final whistle.
“We’re obviously delighted to have retained the Derry senior title here today, I thought it was a great team performance by the girls,” he said.
“I was very pleased with the defensive performance particularly in the first half. Slaughtneil are a very good team, we knew they had scored a lot of goals in the league and championship so that was an area we did a lot of work on around our defensive play and I was pleased the way it panned out.
“We maybe didn’t have a good League campaign this year, what with injuries and that but it gave us a chance to try out a lot of younger players. So we were up against it in many games but that helped develop character in them.
“I suppose to some extent we came in to this final under the radar and many people had Slaugtneil as slight favourites going into this one,” said Joe.
Certainly Eoghan Rua put in a performance of differing hues over the two halves as Joe explained.
“We were expecting a physical battle from Slaughtneil, indeed I think Derry camogie is getting more that way with teams putting in more work around strength and conditioning,” he said.
“In that first half we had to stand up, the tackling, blocking and hooking was first rate, indeed from both teams. There was a lot of ‘dirty ball’ to be won in and around the middle and I thought our girls really stuck at it and won their fair share.”
Certainly the first half was tough. Slaughtneil opened the scoring inside the first minute as Therese Mellon swung over a point from the right side in the very first attack. It took Eoghan Rua five minutes to settle in to the game and when Grace McMullan cut in from the right side she had only goal on her mind and duly obliged, hand passing to the net.
The sides exchanged points from placed balls before some neat passing between Grace McMullan and Rosanna McAleese seen the latter point for Eohan Rua to put them three ahead. Slaughtneil came back well with two points, both frees converted by the very accurate Louise Dougan by the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was just as tight as the intensity of the tackling was unrelenting. Eighteen minutes in Eoghan Rua were awarded a penalty when Katie Mullan was hauled down, Grainne McGoldrick’s low drive was well saved but the blocked shot came out to Rosanna McAleese who sent over a fine point from a tight angle.
Eoghan Rua then moved four clear with points from Grainne McGoldrick and Katie Mullan but Slaughtneil soon hit back in style. Louise Dougan pointed a long range free and then blasted home a penalty, low and hard to the Eoghan Rua net.
The same player then went for goal from a close-in free but she was denied, however Ciara Cassidy was on hand to gather the rebound and fire over the bar for the lead point six minutes from half-time.
Eoghan Rua finished the half strongly with two points in as many minutes, Grainne McGoldrick twice on target to edge Coleraine a point to the good at the break, 1-7 to 1-6.
A good start to the second half for either side was always going to be crucial and so it proved as Eoghan Rua stormed four clear with three quick points, Grainne McGoldrick (2) and Grace McMullan the scorers.
The accuracy of Louise Dougan from placed balls was keeping Slauhtneil in touch as twice she replied to points from a Grainne McGoldrick free and a super Megan Kerr effort, 1-11 to 1-8 the score going into the last quarter. Slaughtneil would not score again from open play as Eoghan Rua took control of proceedings for the entire last quarter.
With Maureen Heneghan and particularly Megan Kerr now dominating around the middle, Meabh McGoldrick controlling things at the back and a spread of Eoghan Rua forwards finishing clinically Slauhtneil had no answer to the attacking onslaught over that closing period. Katie Mullan then took matters into her own hands with two fine scores.
First she bulldozed through for a fine point before taking a lovely cross-field pass from Rosanna McAleese, turning her marker and firing to the net, seven points suddenly the margin, 2-12 to 1-8. Again it was Louise Dougan that provided the response as she tapped over two points from frees but Slaughtneil failed to score again in the final ten minutes.
Meanwhile Eoghan Rua added six, five points from open play, all of them well taken. That was a real feature of this winning performance as
Joe Passmore commented at the finish: “Yeah, 19 points, 15 from play is a great stat, some phenomenal scores from Grainne (McGoldrick), Megan (Kerr), Rosanna (McAleese) and Grace (McMullan). Scores that any good hurler would be proud of, the quality of the finishing was top drawer.
“Indeed Slaughtneil had some great scores too, Louise Dougan was very accurate from frees throughout. We just seemed to be able to keep the scoreboard ticking over and to finish the way we did in the last quarter really was the icing on the cake.”.
Eoghan Rua now look forward to another big test in the Ulster senior final where they will face the Antrim champions in around four weeks time.
Eoghan Rua : Aileen Moore; Adele Archibald, Maria Mooney, Sinead Boyle; Eilish McNamee, Meabh McGoldrick, Claire Tracey; Megan Kerr, Maureen Heneghan; Maeve Dillon, Grainne McGoldrick, Kelly Maybin; Rosanna McAleese, Grace McMullan, Katey Mullan.
Scorers: Grainne McGoldrick (0-10, 0-3 frees, 0-1 ‘45’), Katie Mullan (1-4), Grace McMullan (1-2), Rosanna McAleese (0-4), Megan Kerr (0-1).