Eoghan Rua experience could be key to securing All-Ireland title

Katie Mullan has put her hockey commitments on hold to help Eoghan Rua to reach the All-Ireland Junior Club Championship final
Picture: Sportsfile

All-Ireland Junior Club Camogie Championship final: Eoghan Rua (Derry) v Clanmaurice (Kerry) (today, Drogheda, 12.30pm)

EOGHAN RUA Coleraine have improved their performance in each of the games they have played since the turn of the year.

They qualified for the Ulster Junior competition by winning the Derry intermediate title in September. By the middle of January the addition of Méabh Duffy and Katie Mullan alone had significantly strengthened their hand.

Duffy had her third child at the end of August while Irish hockey captain Mullan found a gap in her schedule to return to a game she hadn’t played for half-a-dozen years. Neither were outstanding in that first game against Laragh United, the free-taking of Duffy’s sister Gráinne Holmes took the team through that test.

However, since then the pair, Méabh at centre-half back and Katie at centre-forward, have made a significant contribution in each game. Katie has accumulated 2-8 in the past three games and she is a big threat with her direct approach.

Their experience, even their presence in the team have brought out the best in their team-mates, not just the seven or eight that have been around since Eoghan Rua collected back-to-back All-Ireland intermediate titles a decade ago.

Younger players are no longer support players, as shown by Sorcha Duggan who claimed the Player of the Match Award for the past two games and Coleraine should enter the final confident that they can claim a third All-Ireland title for the club.

In their way are Clanmaurice who basically are the Kerry inter-county team that claimed the All-Ireland Junior title in Croke Park a couple of years ago. The Clan are appearing in their fourth final in five seasons after beating the 2020 champions Raharney a fortnight ago in the semi-final.

That game, a repeat of the 2020 final which didn’t take place until early January this year, was played in difficult conditions and went to extra-time before Clanmaurice emerged with a 0-10 to 1-5 win.

Patrice Diggin at midfield has been the driving force of this team for a number of years and she popped up for the late point that brought the game to extra-time.

However, Diggin has handed over free-taking duties to full-forward Jackie Horgan, who scored seven times as well as once from open play.

Eoghan Rua have a wider spread of scorers than the Kerry team and through their four-games campaign they have been quite disciplined at the back and have not given up too many frees.

If the Ulster champions can cope with the threat around midfield posed by Diggin and do not foul a lot within scoring range, you would fancy the Coleraine attack to stack up enough scores to take them to a first title for Ulster.

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