Nine minutes into the second half of this Ulster Camogie Premier League final replay home side Eoghan Rua, Coleraine were just a point adrift, 3-7 to 2-11, of Antrim team Loughgiel, another tight finish seemingly on the cards.
Not so. Loughgiel finished very strongly hitting five unanswered points over the closing twenty minutes or so for a six point win, 2-15 to 3-7. After an early exchange of points the sides were level 0-2 each by the 7th minute with Loughgiel edging ahead through a Louise McFadden point just a minute later, they would add to that with an opportunist goal through Aisling McFadden in their next attack. Even though the home side would reduce the deficit to a single point on four occasions after that goal they were always playing catch up as Loughgiel led from the 8th minute to the final whistle.
Overall Loughgiel deserved their win, they were stronger in most departments and in particular their full forward line who contributed 1-12 of their side’s 2-15 tally. Every time Aisling McFadden (1-3), Louise McKeown (0-6) and Joanne Campbell (0-3) got onto the ball it spelt danger for the Eoghan Rua defence, their finishing was tremendous throughout and proved to be the real difference between the sides.
Midway through the first half Loughgiel led 1-5 to 0-4 but a Rosanna McAleese goal helped to reduce the gap to one in the 17th minute. The sides then traded points before a long ball in from Racquel McCarry sailed all the way to the Coleraine net. The home side responded well to that setback with a goal of their own, Rosanna McAleese fining the net from close range after Katie Mullan’s shot was blocked out, a point separating the sides at that stage.
Loughgiel finished the half with two points to lead 2-9 to 2-6 at the break. The Shamrocks increased their lead to five with points from Emma McMullan and Aisling McFadden but it was soon back to one again, Grace McMullan firing over a point and then Jane Carey fielding superbly before firing to the net through a crowded goal area. That seemed to set up another tight tense finish similar to the first encounter in Loughgiel. It was not to be as Loughgiel went on to take control in the final quarter hitting five points in arrow without reply from the home side.
The Premier league trophy was presented to Loughgiel captain Emma Connolly by Ulster camogie representative Briege McGilligan.
Eoghan Rua team: Aileen Moore; Eilis McNamee, Maureen Heneghan, Adele Archibald; Megan Kerr, Meabh McGoldrick, Maria Mooney; Kelly Maybin, Jame Carey; Maeve Dillon, Grainne McGoldrick, Grace McMullan; Clare Treacy, Katie Mullan, Rosanna McAleese
Eoghan Rua scorers: Rosanna McAleese (2-0), Grainne McGoldrick (0-4 frees), Jane Carey (1-0), Grace McMullan (0-2), Meabh McGoldrick (0-1).
Loughgiel: Ciara Johnson; Aine Connolly, Laura Connolly, Una McNaughton; Bernie McGarry, Emma Connolly, Siobhan McCloskey; Charlene Hamill, Racquel McCarry; Emma McMullan, Jolene McCarry, Lucia McNaughton; Aisling McFadden, Louise McKeown, Joanne Campbell.
Loughgiel scorers: Aisling McFadden (1-3), Louise McKeown (0-6), Racquel McCarry (1-1), Joanne Campbell (0-3), Charlene Hamill (0-1), Emma McMullan (0-1 ‘45’), Jolene McCarry (0-1).