By Daragh Ó Conchúir
Sarsfields will face new opposition when they bid for a third consecutive AIB All-Ireland senior club camogie title and fourth in five seasons in a fortnight.
The Galwegians booked a fifth straight final appearance with victory over their Cork namesakes, while Kilkenny’s Dicksboro got the better of last year’s runners-up Loughgiel Shamrocks from Antrim to secure their first appearance in the season-ender.
The game will take place at Croke Park on December 17 as part of a double-header with the intermediate final, which will be contested by the rollercoaster-riding Meath champions Na Fianna and the winners of tomorrow’s clash between Clanmaurice (Kerry) and Shamrocks (Galway).
The ‘Boro were the first to book their spot in the senior blue riband at Donaghmore Ashbourne thanks in large part to two second-half goals from emerging county attacker, Asha McHardy.
Amy Clifford got them off the mark from the throw-in and further scores from Aoife Prendergast (45) and Rachel Dowling had them two ahead after just three minutes.
They were rocked on their heels by a fifth minute goal from Caitrin Dobbin however, and though Prendergast levelled from a free, it was the Antrim girls champions that had the wind in their sails. Points from Róisín McCormick, either side of a neat score from Dobbin opened up a three-point gap.
Dowling and Prendergast did split the posts for Dicksboro but the Shamrocks continued to threaten and points from McCormick, Dobbin (an excellent effort on the run) and Annie Lynn gave them a 1-8 to 0-6 lead at half-time.
They only scored two points in the second half, however. In contrast, Donal Carroll and his players made good use of the break and were the better team after the resumption, buoyed by another fast start, this time with a 32nd minute goal from McHardy. They were soon level, as McHardy and Prendergast split the posts.
It was fiercely fought thereafter, with points from Jenny Clifford and Kilkenny’s former All-Ireland winning captain Prendergast edging Dicksboro two ahead before McHardy removed all doubt with her second goal in injury time, the Noresiders eventually prevailing by 2-13 to 1-10.
It must have been a nightmare for commentators with the unusual situation of two teams with the same names going toe-to-toe but that was what unfolded at Mallow.
It was the experience of the westerners that prevailed though the Rebel representatives certainly provided a stern examination of their vaunted opponents’ credentials before yielding by 2-10 to 1-6.
It was the Galway side’s first game since the county final six weeks ago but they flew out of the traps to lead by three points at the end of the opening quarter, as the brilliant Clara Donohue, Clodagh McGrath, Siobhán McGrath and Rachel Murray raised white flags.
With Ava Fitzgerald excelling at midfield, the Cork crew got back into it, Lucy Allen converting bringing her tally to four from placed balls and Holly Herlihy also hitting the target to leave it 0-7 to 0-6 at the change of ends.
A brilliant 42nd minute goal from Siobhán McGrath looked to have sealed things for the girls in green but by now, their gritty rivals had introduced Kate Fennessy, who had been their leading scorer in the Munster final but had been forced by illness to sit it out from the start.
Fennessy finished a great move involving Oliva McAllen, Evie Twomey and Clare Mullins to put the game back in the melting pot with a smart finish for a goal but then Donohoe took a pass from Murray to raise another green flag at the other end.
Tara Kenny and Maria Cooney stood out in a strong defensive effort by titleholders but they did give up three good goal chances nonetheless, any of which might have made it tricky down the stretch if ending in a rattled net.
Na Fianna had to dig very deep to chisel out a 1-9 to 0-9 victory over Tyrone side, Eglish.
A first-half goal from Kerrie Cole gave them a 1-5 to 0-5 advantage at the short whistle and it remained the difference in the end, though Cole and Aoife Carey slotted vital points as well.
The junior B final will be between Crossmaglen Rangers (Armagh) and St Munna’s (Westmeath) at NGDC Abbotstown on December 16. Cross were far too strong for Roscommon Gaels in their semi-final, leading by 3-7 to 0-2 at half-time before cruising to a 7-12 to 1-3 success.
The Saints also had too much firepower for their opposition, having a 3-6 to 0-1 interval advantage over British champions Croydon and converting that to a 3-16 to 0-2 triumph.
The penultimate rounds of the junior championship take place tomorrow, as the 2022 runners-up Knockananna (Wicklow) cross swords with Granemore (Armagh), while Athleague (Roscommon) do battle with St Joseph’s Doora Barefield (Clare).Tweet