It was chilly for yesterday evening’s key decider between the Trinity College, Dublin and St Mary’s College, Belfast camogie teams. The match began shortly after six on a cold evening in Clanna Gael GAA Club and after a scrappy start with neither team gaining possession, Trinity eventually emerged from the fracas with ball in hand but failed to take advantage of a few early goal chances due in part to a solid Mary’s defence.
The opening score of the game eventually came from the hurl of the Mary’s midfielder and free-taker. Trinity soon closed the gap, to make it one a-piece. It took until the twentieth minute for the next score to come with a tactical pass from a Trinity midfielder into the nimble wing forward who struck the sliotar cleanly over the bar. Mary’s soon gained a point of their own to make it 0-2 to 0-2. The two teams traded scores with the free-takers doing well to compensate for the strong cross-pitch breeze.
While Trinity played more attractive free-flowing camogie, it was Mary’s guts and determination that kept the nippy Trinity forwards at bay. For the first half at least, the two sets of players were neck and neck with nothing to separate them in this intense encounter. Trinity were two points up as the half time whistle blew.
The girls in red and black got the second half off to a sublime start with a flurry of points in the first ten minutes with no response from the seemingly drained Mary’s side. With the game slipping away from them, Mary’s needed something to bring them back seven points down and they got it. After some nice passing from the Mary’s forwards, the goal that ensued was superbly taken and well-deserved. They were back in the game with the score standing at 1-2 to 0-9.
Trinity’s number eight Annie Courtney has a habit of checking behind her before striking the ball to see how close her marker is; she needn’t bother however as Mary’s midfielders had difficulty keeping her under control and she left them trailing behind. Trinity dominated in midfield with the more physical Mary’s side often unable to keep up with their athleticism. This showed in the second half in particular as the Dublin side pulled away and managed to enforce their style of play on the game – tactical, free-flowing camogie.
Yet neither team could sustain the intensity of the first half and were noticeably tiring making for a rather slow final fifteen minutes. They resorted somewhat to a tactic of ‘let the other team get the ball and I’ll defend’. However, we were treated once again to a thrilling and frantic final few minutes with one side desperately trying to clamber back from six points down, the other side just as determined to hold onto their lead. Alison Stenson was the rock in the Trinity defence with some excellent high catches and clearances particularly as Mary’s launched their strong counter-attack in the dying minutes of the game.
Trinity dominated throughout the second half and ran out deserved winners in the end. When the final whistle finally blew there were scenes of delight and triumph. The win on Thursday night means that the triumphant Trinity side go through to the Fr. Meachair Championship semi-finals and final weekend in Galway.
In an interview with a fresher camog, I asked about the training the team has gone through to prepare for the championship. She informed me that they were training up to four times a week in the run up to their clash with Mary’s with the focus on fitness, something which certainly showed in the second half of tonight’s encounter as Mary’s side couldn’t keep up with them. She also spoke highly of manager Aideen Naughton: “She’s as invested in it as we are. She pushes you, but she understands different commitments too.”
The finals will be next weekend in Galway. Watch this space.