It was a day of double disappointment at Owenbeg last Sunday afternoon for Eoghan Rua as their hopes of Ulster glory in both camogie and hurling finals were dashed by Antrim opposition.
The Eoghan Rua camogs staged a dramatic last quarter comeback from nine points down, 0-11 to 0-2, to come up just a point short as Loughgiel held on for the narrowest of victories 0-11 to 1-7.
There was no such drama in the second game of the day in the Ulster final ‘double header’ at Owenbeg, Rossa from Belfast proved just too strong for the Eoghan Rua men, winning fairly comfortably 1-15 to 0-6.
First into action were the Eoghan Rua camogs. They were dealt a very early blow to their hopes of a successful defence of the title. Loughgiel started the better and were two points to the good after just five minutes with scores from Racquel McCarry and Lucia McNaughton.
Then just a minute later Eoghan Rua captain and top scorer Grainne McGoldrick burst through from the right touchline heading for goal but she was brought to the ground by a heavy tackle which saw her being stretchered from the field with a leg injury.
That proved a real body blow to Eoghan Rua’s challenge as Loughgiel went on to dominate the opening half to lead by six points 0-7 to 0-1 at the break. Wing forward Joanne Campbell with three points and full forward Racquel McCarry (2) did most of the damage for the dominant Loughgiel side in that first half. Meanwhile the Loughgiel defence had a real stranglehold on the Eoghan Rua attack Emma Connolly at centre back and Siobhan McLoskey at wing back particularly prominent, full back Laura Connolly had a real battle with Eoghan Rua full forward Katie Mullan in that opening period.
Eoghan Rua’s only score in the first half came from A Grace McMullan free while they did leave a few scoreable chances behind.
Despite now playing against the difficult wind Loughgiel continued to dominate in the opening stages of the second half.
In the opening ten minutes Racquel McCarry added three more points, a free, a ‘45’ and a superb effort over her shoulder for a nine point lead. Eoghan Rua responded with a Meabh McGoldrick point from a free but Loughgiel immediately hit back, again McCarry from a free doing the damage as the game moved into the final quarter.
At that stage it seemed Eoghan Rua were gone completely but they showed tremendous battling qualities to dominate the last quarter and almost pulled this one out of the fire.
The comeback began with a Meabh McGoldrick point from a free and then an inspirational score from midfielder Meagan Kerr as she burst through the middle and fired over a tremendous point on the run.
Meabh McGoldrcik reduced the gap to six rom a ‘45’ after Katie Mullan just did not give up on a lost cause forcing the ‘45’. Mullan was involved again with ten minutes left as her shot for goal was well saved by goalkeeper Ciara O’Mullan but her attempted clearance was blocked to the net by Maria Mooney.
Now the game was really on as just three points separated the sides going into the last ten minutes. Meabh McGoldrick pointed another free and then Katie Mullan reduced the gap to a single point with just under five minutes left. In a frenetic finish both sides had chances to add scores.
It was all Eoghan Rua in the last couple of minutes but brilliant defending from Loughgiel held the Coleraine side out.
It was an agonising end for Eoghan Rua but real ecstasy for Loughgiel on the final whistle as they wrested the Ulster senior title from the Derry side.