Hurling & Camogie

Derry survive late Kilkenny rally to book place in All-Ireland intermediate final

Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Intermediate Camogie Championship semi-finals: Derry 0-21 Kilkenny 0-14; Meath 1-11 Westmeath 0-10

DERRY didn’t make it easy for themselves on Saturday, but for the fourth season out of the last six, an Ulster side will feature in the Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Intermediate final.

There were echoes of last year’s disappointment when Derry went ahead by 0-10 to 0-5 by the three-quarters mark, but then failed to score again until the last seconds of added time.

In between, Kilkenny picked up momentum from a couple of scores from subs Ellen Gunner (free) and Claire Doheny, whittled the lead away and then took the lead when Emma Manogue swivelled to pop over a point in the 62nd minute.

Derry dug in though and went on the attack; Mary Hegarty’s excellent catch and shot brought a good stop at the foot of the post from Clíodhna Murphy.

The resultant 45 was a pressure shot for Aoife Shaw, but she nailed it to send the game into extra time where her side regained their composure and drove to the finish line.

Niamh Gribbin had a couple of key saves to make and did very well while the whole of the defence, particularly the half-back line of Rachel Downey, Aoife Ní Chaiside and Lauren McKenna were outstanding.

With Eimear McGuigan dropping back as a third midfielder, the supply line was a wide diagonal ball that stretched the Kilkenny defence.

All the forwards had their moments, but as the game wore on the contributions of Aoife Shaw and Áine McAllister became more pronounced. The pair eventually equalled Kilkenny’s total between them.

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Derry's Rachel McAllister and Afton Grace of Kilkenny  Picture: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
Derry's Rachel McAllister and Afton Grace of Kilkenny Picture: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Kilkenny scored in the opening minute through Laura Greene who was the only real threat they had for the first 45 minutes.

They also missed a couple of easy frees and Derry took the lead in the 10th minute, 0-3 to 0-2, when McAllister fired over a free from distance after Shaw (from a free) and Máiréad McNicholl had registered points.

The Oak Leaf maintained that gap until half-time when they led 0-6 to 0-5 with their defence in control and Mary Hegarty and then McAllister twice on target.

Hegarty and Eimear McGuigan added points on the re-start before Derry were awarded a 38th minute penalty as a result of the controversial “charging” rule that earned Kilkenny ‘keeper Clíodhna Murphy a yellow card. She redeemed herself however by saving Shaw’s well-struck effort, but couldn’t prevent the Lavey ace adding two excellent frees to put her side in control at 0-10 to 0-5 with 45 minutes gone.

Then came the Kilkenny revival sparked by a Gunner point from a soft free award. Suddenly Kilkenny were pushing forward and Derry looked in trouble; the physical power in the tackle and in runs forward seemed to wane and the gap closed going into added time.

With the teams now level, Gribbin reached high to prevent a lead point from Emma Mulhall but could do nothing when Manogue brought it to 0-11 to 0-10 a minute later.

Derry's Aine McAllister is presented with the Player of the Match award by Ulster delegate Karen McCormack
Derry's Aine McAllister is presented with the Player of the Match award by Ulster delegate Karen McCormack

Shaw’s coolness gave Derry a reprieve and, with points on the re-start from Áine McGill and Shaw, they re-discovered their earlier drive and had made it 0-16 to 0-11 by half time in extra time with Shaw (free), McNicholl and McAllister all on target.

McAllister placed Shaw for another point at the start of the second period of extra time and the Ballinascreen ace then grabbed three more points from play before the end of the game to bring her total to eight for the day.

It was enough to pick up the Player of the Match award, an award could also have gone to Shaw, Lauren McKenna, Sinéad McGill or Aoife Ní Chaiside the only player remaining from Derry’s last Intermediate success in 2012.

In the second semi-final, Meath overturned a 10-point defeat in a group game to beat their neighbours Westmeath by 1-11 to 0-10 in a real tense derby that went right to the wire.

Westmeath led by 0-7 to 0-6 at the break, but Meath hit the first four points of the second half through dual-star Aoife Minogue, Grace Coleman, Amy Gaffney and Abbey Donnelly. Westmeath pulled it back to 0-11 to 0-10 but Gaffney goaled in the 60th minute to seal the victory.

Derry: Á McAllister (0-8, 3 frees), A Shaw (0-6, 4 frees), M McNicholl (0-2), M Hegarty (0-2), Á McGill (0-2), E McGuigan (0-1).

Kilkenny: E Manogue (0-6, 3 frees), L Greene (0-2), E Gunner (0-2 frees), C Doheny (0-2), S Barcoe (0-1), N Phelan (0-1).

Derry: N Gribbin, N Quinn, L Lennon, S McGill, R Downey, A Ní Chaiside, L McKenna, Á McGill, D O'Kane, R McAllister, M McNicholl, Á McAllister capt., E McGuigan, A Shaw, A Lennon, M Hegarty

Subs: O Hull for A Lennon (46), Á McGill for E McGuigan (53), S O’Connor for M McNicholl (73), E McCloskey for L McKenna (78), E Doherty for R Downey (78).

Kilkenny: C Murphy, N Leahy, J O’Dea, J Cass, N Phelan, R Phelan, H Scott capt., L Greene, A Cantwell, D Quigley, S Barcoe, E Manogue, T Donnelly, M Kennedy, A Grace.

Subs: C Doheny for A Grace (25), E Gunner for M Kennedy (35), E Mulhall for D Quigley (45), C Kennedy for S Barcoe (60 + 4),

Referee: G Donegan (Dublin)