Down minor camogs reach All-Ireland ‘C’ and Ulster finals

DOWN 2-15 (21) LAOIS 3-6 (15)

THE Down Minor Camogie Team have booked their place in both the All-Ireland ‘C’ and Ulster Championship Finals.

On Saturday April 21 Down took on Laois in the All-Ireland ‘C’ Semi-Final in Trim, Co Meath.

Down did not waste any time exerting their dominance in the first half and once again Niamh Mallon led the charge putting the Laois defence under tremendous pressure.

Aoife Keown and Olivia Boyle dominated midfield, winning possession and providing a regular supply of the ball to the forwards and there were some excellent scores taken by Brid McGourty, Deirbhile Savage and Aimee McAleenan. Substitute Anna Rogan made an immediate impact when introduced, showing great pace and composure and scoring two sublime points from play.

At the interval Down were leading by 2-11 to 0-3 and confidence was high. However, in the second half Down were punished for lapses of concentration and complacency as Laois fought back scoring 3 goals in succession and at one stage narrowing the margin to four points. In response the Down keeper and defence kept their nerve demonstrating great composure under pressure. It was the experience of Orlagh McLogan, Eimear Dynes, Catherine Rocks, Nicola O’Gorman and Amey Coulter that steadied the ship and ensured that Down emerged victorious on a score line of 2-15 to 3-6.

Down: Orlagh McLogan, Amey Coulter, Eimear Dynes, Caitlin McCartan, Nicola O’Gorman, Maria Higgins, Catherine Rocks, Olivia Boyle, Aoife Keown (0-1), Aimee McAleenan (0-1), Brid McGourty (0-1), Niamh Mallon (C) (2-8), Deirbhile Savage (0-2), Aislinn McFarland, Monica McKay. Subs: Niamh Hazard (for O McLogan), Mary-Claire Grant, Shauna O’Neill, Anna Rogan (0-2) (for A McFarland), Ciara Gibson (for A McAleenan), Clare McGilligan (for M McKay), Jenna Boden (for C McCartan), Molly McMullan, Niamh Rogers, Rhea Smyth, Deirdre McCabe, Elizabeth Wilson, Nuala Carvill, Clare Cleland, Danielle McCourt

Manager: Paul Boyle Mentors: Noreen Keown, Ann Rogers, Roisin Rogers, Slim Rogers

Also previously, on 14th April, Down came up against a strong and determined Derry side in the Ulster Championship Cup Semi-Final. However, it was Down who emerged victorious against this year’s newly crowned All-Ireland Minor ‘B’ Champions.

Down’s Niamh Mallon and Derry’s Bronagh McGillian were dominant in the first half. The match was hotly contested in the middle third as both teams battled for possession and there were some excellent performances from Derry captain, Shauna Quinn, and Down’s, Olivia Boyle. Both teams continued to exchange scores, however, it was Derry who led at the interval by 1-9 to 1-5.

The half-time team talk from Manager, Paul Boyle, must have inspired the Down girls because they totally dominated the second half. The down full-back line of Amey Coulter, Eimear Dynes and Caitlin McCartan gave an outstanding display of Camogie, showing composure under pressure and excellent decision making. Despite dominating the second half, Down conceded a number of costly frees which Bronagh McGillian duly converted and this kept Derry in the game.

With 45 seconds to go Down were ahead by three points and victory looked imminent, however, in an uncharacteristic lapse of concentration, Down allowed one of the Derry forwards to get on the end of a high dropping ball and Derry equalized, after which the referee blew the whistle. In extra time, Down continued their dominance and scored 4 points without reply, eventually winning by 2-14 to 2-10.

Down will now contest the All-Ireland ‘C’ Final against Kerry on Saturday 5th May and will then play the winners of Armagh and Antrim in the Ulster Championship Cup Final.

Down have not fielded a Minor team for the past two seasons, therefore, this is a remarkable achievement for this young squad and just illustrates the breadth of talent in the county.

Manager, Paul Boyle, said, “This recent success is the result of a lot of development work within the county at under 14 and under 16 level under the management of Noreen Keown, Dessie Rice and Sean Rogers. In fact, there are 12 players on the minor panel who were part of the team that won the All-Ireland U16 ‘C’ Championship Final last year.

“We have been training since Christmas and all the hard work is beginning to pay off. They are a great group of players who have consistently demonstrated the commitment and attitude required to play inter county Camogie.

“We must now focus on the All Ireland and Ulster Finals and hopefully everyone in the County will get behind us”.