Hurling and camogie

Camogie: St Clare Cup final preview and Inter-provincial report

Séamas McAleenan

St Clare Cup final: Wednesday May 22, 1pm in Cargin GFC, Toomebridge: St Patrick's, Maghera v St Louis, Ballymena

IT IS a month since St Patrick's, Maghera won the south Derry derby semi-final with St Mary's, Magherafelt to book their place in this St Clare Cup final

Today's opponents, St Louis, Ballymena, played their derby semi-final with Cross and Passion, Ballycastle 10 days ago.

It will be interesting to see if the gap in games will have affected a Maghera team that was in scintillating form up until that 6-3 to 2-4 win over their Magherafelt neighbours.

Their other games had delivered much easier victories.

St Mary's gave them plenty to think about during the first half and Orlaith Hull and Caoimhe McCloskey saw plenty of action in defence for Maghera.

But gradually they broke down that resistance to get the goals to take them through.

Orlaith and Caoimhe are just two of 14 players in the Maghera line-out who are in county development squads and that includes Creggan's Evanne Martin who will be familiar enough with today's opponents from club camogie in Antrim as well as playing alongside them in the Saffron colours, most recently against Down in Ballycran.

Maghera have been significantly strengthened by the year group below who contribute five starters to the team including Lavey's Carla Collins who is rapidly gaining a huge reputation in Derry.

St Louis have also been comfortable in their group matches and that trend seemed to be continuing when they met Ballycastle at Cloughmills in the semi-final.

They swept into an interval lead of 3-4 to 0-0 with goals from Anna McKillop (two) and Eibhlin Gould.

But Cross and Passion turned the screw during the second half and actually drew level with just a couple of minutes remaining. However St Louis to their credit were able to hit back with a goal from Maria Gately to win 5-6 to 5-3.

Their half-back line has been their strongest with Sarah Fyfe, Katie Molloy and Anna McKillen featuring strongly on county panels for the past couple of years.

However they and the rest of the defence could be under plenty of pressure today as Maghera are clear favourites to deny St Louis a first ever title at this level.

St Patrick's: M Hughes, O Hull, A McNeill, C McElhinney, E Doherty, E Martin, M Murray, A Madden, Caoimhe McCloskey, M McIlvar, C Collins, S Mellon, B McLaughlin, Cara McCloskey, Caoimhe Kearney.

Subs: M Doherty, S Mac Giolla Fhiondáin, N Cassidy, G McLaughlin, A Strathearn, L McPeake, B Convery, A McWilliams, C McMullan,

E Convery, L Kelly, Cliodhna Kearney, A McCullagh, E Hendry

St Louis : E McGivern, S Shannon, M McVeigh, D Dobbin, S Fyfe, K Molloy, A McKillen, E Johnson, E Coulter, C Griffin, M Gately, E Gould, A McKillop, C O'Boyle, G McVeigh.

Inter-provincial Camogie final: Ulster 1-8 Munster 1-4

FIVE different counties contributed players as Ulster retained their inter-provincial camogie title at the Abbotstown Centre of Excellence in Dublin on Sunday.

But it took an absolutely brilliant late save from Armagh net-minder Ciarraí Devlin to hold off Munster in an exciting final.

Ulster held a narrow two points' lead when Ciarraí made that full-length dive to block a shot for full-back Chloe Drain to clear.

The sliotar was worked up the field and Sara Louise Carr pointed. Katie McAleese added another point soon after to secure a 1-8 to 1-4 win after they had trailed by 1-2 to 0-2 at the change of ends.

Cavan's Sinead McKenna and Antrim's Niamh Donnelly from a free were the Ulster scorers during the first half while Tipperary's Andrea Loughnane had fired home a goal and a point for a Munster side that had run the northerners close in the round-robin games earlier in the afternoon.

However the Ulster defence worked very hard after the break with Dearbhla Magee, Chloe Drain and Eimear Hayes outstanding in front of Ciarraí Devlin.

Further out Niamh Donnelly drove Ulster forward and experienced players such as Sara Louise Carr and Katie McAleese really stood up to the test when needed.

It was Carr's goal that put Ulster ahead for the first time and McAleese and Donnelly were also on the score-sheet again as Ulster took a grip and finished four points' winners.

Earlier in the afternoon in the group games, Ulster defeated Leinster by 3-10 to 0-5 with Carr hitting 2-2 and Donnelly 1-4.

In their second game, they defeated Munster by 0-9 to 1-3 with Armagh's Rachel Merry top-scoring on five points and Sinéad McKenna two.

The Ulster ladies then put Connacht to the sword winning by 4-7 to 0-10 with the goals coming from Sara Louise Carr (1-3), Rachel Merry (1-1) Christina O'Reilly and Orla Smith.

Ulster team in final: C Devlin, C McCooey, E Hayes, C Drain, E Smyth, D Magee, A Jordan, O Smith, L Donnelly, S Kiernan, N Donnelly (0-2, 0-1 free), S McKenna (0-1), S Fitzsimons, SL Carr (1-3, 0-1 free), K McAleese (0-2)

Subs used in final: M Connolly and R Merry (both HT)

Unused in final: C Beagan, O Murray, A Reilly, C O'Reilly, J O'Rourke, A Coyle, A O'Reilly, P O'Hagan

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