(1) DOWN “STREAK” TO VICTORY Irish Daily Star Senior Camogie Division 2 by Angela Mulhern Down 3-10 (19) Wexford 2-12 (18) Down took on Wexford at Blanchardstown in Dublin on Sunday last and the crowd were treated to some entertainment when a male streaker took to the pitch in the second half. This was not, however, as entertaining as the fair served up by these two teams and from the outset it looked like it was going to be a classic. Down were coming off the back of two straight defeats, a poor showing against Galway and a much improved performance against All Ireland Junior Champions, Antrim, while Wexford were flying along with a great win over Derry in their last game and narrowly losing out to Antrim by 2 points. Back to full strength, Down set off with purpose and within 1 minute full forward, Sarah Louise Carr, had the ball in the Wexford net. This spurred the Mourne women on and a point in quick succession followed from the Caman of young Niamh Mallon. Wexford were again stunned when centre half forward, Catherine McGourty, charged through to send the ball under the advancing keeper and into the right hand corner. It was very much one-way traffic at this stage but hurling tradition took over and the team from the stable of the All Ireland Senior Champions, Wexford, started the fight back. A fantastic 40 yard point from Lisa Doyle, the Wexford Number 11, seemed to settle Wexford and they upped the tempo scoring a further goal and two points without reply. Down steadied themselves again and Karen Gribben rifled over a fine score to return the belief to the team that had been in existence earlier. However, Wexford started to take control again showing what a fine team they are and, playing their best Camogie of the game, notched up a further 4 unanswered points. The Down bad habit of giving away too many frees was again evident but they continued to press and two points from Catherine McGourty kept them in contention. However, a goal and a point from Wexford before the half time whistle gave them the advantage. Down 2-4(10) Wexford 2-8 (14) Many thought that Wexford would now firm up the driving seat but Down again started quickest. Another point from Catherine McGourty followed by one from Paula Gribben lifted the spirits but Wexford fought back with two points of their own. Down, however, took heart when a long ball from Kelly O’Higgins was batted by the Wexford keeper to her own net. Catherine McGourty again kept up the pressure with a further 3 points to leave things even. Wexford pressed and as a result of another free were able to take the lead again. Down were not to be outdone and a free from the stick of McGourty levelled it again. A masterful ball in the closing minutes of extra time from Fionnuala Carr to her sister out left enabled Sarah Louise Carr to stroke the ball over the bar for the winning score. From the puck out the whistle sounded and Down had chalked up a hard fought but much deserved victory. This game was won by sheer determination and much credit has to be given to the girls given the disappointing start they have had in the campaign. Paddy Braniff, the Down Manager, said after the match, “Our defence was absolutely brilliant today and fought for every ball. It was a great win.” It is hard to single out performances in this famous victory as everyone played their part. However, Paula Gribben gave a player of the match performance while Karen Tinnelly ran her a close second. The two midfielders were exceptional for the full 60 minutes. Lisa McCrickard was steady at full back while Fionnuala Carr at centre half was in brilliant form and her blocking and distribution was at times superb. The wing backs were in fine form and one brilliant catch in the second half by Ciara McPolin, which led to the Down goal, was fantastic. Up front Catherine McGourty marshalled the forward line notching up a tally of 1-6 for the day. Niamh Mallon continues to develop and went on some magnificent runs troubling her marker throughout the game. Finally Sarah Louise Carr at full forward grabbed scores at vital times. Down must surely look forward to the Derry Game with renewed confidence and spirit. If they continue to believe and cut down on giving away unnecessary frees they can look forward to the season with confidence. Down team: Catriona McCrickard, Maria McNally, Lisa McCrickard, Clare McKenna, Ciara McPolin, Fionnuala Carr, Emma McCormack, Paula Gribben (0-1), Karen Tinnelly, Karen Gribben (0-1), Catherine McGourty (1-6), Kelly O’Higgins (1-0), Niamh Mallon (0-1), Sarah Louise Carr (1-1), Nicola Braniff PLAYER STAR RATINGS Catriona McCrickard (6) Some great puck outs finding length and players. Made a few telling saves and clearances. Maria McNally (5) Short of pace on her marker at times but played extremely hard and often made life difficult for her opponent. Sideline pucks were excellent. Lisa McCrickard (Capt) (6) Lisa drives her troops on especially when under pressure and made some timely interventions. Great leadership qualities when under pressure. Claire McKenna (6) Along with Maria McNally and Lisa McCrickard she played a good steady game in the full back line. Ciara McPolin (7) Made one tremendous catch which led to the Down goal. Never gave up running and hassling a very fast half forward Wexford line. Fionnuala Carr (8) Fionnuala showed why she is one of Ireland’s top Camogie players. Her blocking and tackling was inspiring and she never gave up the chase. When Down were on the back foot she was there to lift them again and drive the team forward. Paula Gribben (9) – STAR PLAYER A magnificent all round display by Paula who for sheer effort alone is the star player. Her running from defence and support play for the forwards was superb and the Wexford midfield could do little as she closed them out at every turn. (0-1). Karen Tinnelly (8) Karen was brilliant at midfield and her pairing with Paula Gribben may be the key to success for this Down team. She was literally everywhere and had a great understanding with Gribben. She has been in tremendous form since the start of the campaign and should be very influential later on in the season. Karen Gribben (7) Tried hard and scored one magnificent point. Her confidence should continue to increase with this performance. (0-1) Catherine McGourty (8) A top score of 1-6 (9 points) from Catherine showed her importance in Down’s bid to move forward. An intimidating figure she broke down many of the charges out of defence by Wexford and narrowly missed out on the match award to Paula Gribben. Kelly O Higgins (6) Kelly had a great game and tried very hard. She will continue to improve but learn not to give away unnecessary frees.1-0 (3 points). Niamh Mallon (7) Niamh continues to make fine progress and is easily reaching everyone’s expectations. She caused much trouble to the Wexford defence and when she starts recording more scores for herself she will be one of the stars of this team (0-1) Sara Louise Carr (7) Sarah Louise got important scores at crucial times. Her first goal set Down on the path to victory and her late point sealed victory for them. Like the rest of the forwards if they take on the responsibility for their own scores they will all be a collective potent force (1-1) (4pts) Nicola Braniff (6) Nicola continues to make good progress and is settling well into this team. She battled hard and when she starts recording scores she will quickly move up the ratings. Jo Fitzpatrick (sub) (7) Magnificent when she came on. A player of real class. Naoimi Morgan (sub) Not on long enough to score.
|League Table – Irish Daily Star Senior Camogie League Division 2|
|Team||Played||Won||Lost||Drawn||Points For||Points Against||Points Diff||Total Points|