Eoghan Rua’s hopes of an All-Ireland senior camogie final spot at their first attempt were dashed by the reigning champions Milford last Sunday afternoon in Ashbourne as they went down 1-10 to 0-8.
This game was much tighter than score-line suggests, the five point winning margin flattering the Milford side just a little.
Unfortunately for Eoghan Rua they did not get off to the start they would have wanted as the defending champions dominated the early exchanges to take a 1-2 to nil lead by the 12th minute, the goal, a scrappy affair coming after 11 minutes from Maria Watson.
By the 25th minute Milford moved six clear, 1-5 to 0-2, Grainne McGoldrick getting Eoghan Rua on the board with a couple of frees. Despite playing against the stiffish breeze the Ulster champions finished the half strongly as Grainne McGoldrick punished a cynical foul on Katie Mullan bearing down on goal from a free and then firing over from play to leave just four between the sides at the break, 1-5 to 0-4 the score.
At that stage with the wind advantage to come Eoghan Rua manager Joe Passmore felt his side were still very much in contention.
“We thought we had a good chance going in at half-time, we had played all right,” he told Times Sport. “After the early concessions we contained them well against the wind but we knew we had to take our chances in the second period.”
Eoghan Rua did start the second half well as within 30 seconds they had reduced the gap to just three with Grainne McGoldrick pointing a free from a tight angle, she finished with seven points, six from placed balls.
However after missing a ‘45’ Milford hit back with a pointed free from Emer Watson. That pattern continued throughout the second half as Eoghan Rua nicked a point to get the gap down to three but Milford showed champion material by always getting the next score.
Eoghan Rua just could not manage to get a couple of points in a row to narrow the gaol to two and ask a few more questions of the Milford side as Passmore suggested. “Yeah they had that wee bit more craft and experience, they have good forwards,” he said. They were able to work the ball forward when need to get the next score. Whenever we got a point they were able to come right back at us with a counterpunch of a score.”
Just when Eoghan Rua came to within three in the 52nnd minute with another Grainne McGoldrick free Milford workd the ball forward with some slick passing for Deirdre O’Reilly to finish neatly two minutes later.
A Grainne McGoldrick ‘45’ dropped short where Katie Mullan gathered to fire over leaving three between the sides in the 57th minute, that raised the temperature among the large travelling support from the Eoghan Rua faithful.
However as they had done throughout the second half Milford’s response was swift. Just two minutes after Eoghan Rua’s point the very dangerous Marie O’Neill found substitute Louise O’Neill who in turn sent O’Reilly in to point, the gap back to four a minute from the end.
Centre back Anna Geary then broke up another Eoghan Rua attack before her cross field pass found another substitute Sinead O’Flynn in acres of space on the left side to race through for the clinching score, no way back now for Eoghan Rua.
‘I suppose at the end we were trying to push up a bit to get the goal we really needed and there were a few spaces there but to be fair to them they were good enough to take full advantage,” added Passmore.
“Maybe a five point defeat was a bit harsh on our players, we had a few chances in that second half but the ball just did not break right for us on a couple of occasions when we got close to their goal.”