2011 CAMOGIE ALL-IRELAND PREMIER JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP IN ASSOCIATION WITH RTE SPORT
Down 2-15 Kildare 0-11
‘DOWN OFF AND RUNNING’
By Angela Mulhern
Down finally got their just rewards with a well deserved win over Kildare in this group qualifier held in the magnificent facilities at Downpatrick RGU GAC.
Following a defeat to Waterford in the opening game it was crucial for Down to get on the winning track or their All Ireland journey would come to a swift and abrupt end. They certainly responded in style and returning to practically full strength took eagerly to the task in hand with the very much in form, Niamh Mallon, firing over an early point.
Kildare responded with a point before Sara Louise Carr put the home team in the lead again with 2 points in succession. Down were never to lose the lead after that and played with great spirit and tenacity. They were full of running and were justly rewarded when Niamh Mallon picked up a tremendous pass from Fionnuala Carr to rifle the ball to the net. She added to her tally shortly after with a fine score from play.
In fairness to Kildare they then took up the challenge and scored 4 points through Susie O’Carroll who was Kildare’s best player on the day. Down, however, maintained their stranglehold and points from Sara Louise Carr, Catherine McGourty and Captain, Lisa McCrickard (0-2), seen them go in at half-time with a clear advantage 1-9 to 0-5.
The second half started at a tremendous pace and Kildare’s Susie O’Carroll again recorded a point for the visitors which was cancelled out by Niamh Mallon. Catherine McGourty added to Down’s tally and Sara Louise Carr again added to her tally with a fine long range point.
It looked over as a contest and Down seemed to take their foot of the gas. Kildare seized the opportunity and recorded 5 unanswered points through Susie O’Carroll (0-4) and full forward, Siobhan Hurley (0-1). The nerves were beginning to show in the home team but they gradually began to win possession and a clear foul in the square resulted in referee, Una Kearney, awarding Down a penalty. The Down lead at this stage was only 4 points and they were under pressure raising the proverbial dilemma of whether to go for goal or point.
Fionnuala Carr, however, had no such dilemma and coolly fired the ball past the Kildare keeper to effectively ensure a Down victory. Kildare were not to score again but Catherine McGourty (0-2) and Lauren Hughes completed the scoring for Down to give them a comprehensive and well deserved win.
This was Down at their best and augurs well for their final sectional match at home to Dublin on 30 July 2011. A victory against the Dubs will ensure them a play off spot in the knock out stages.
The Down defence were in superb form and Fionnuala Carr at full back had a great game. Her long range striking ability set up many attacks for Down and the distribution from goalkeeper, Kelly O’Higgins, ensured a controlled passing game and allowed the home team to dominate.
The Down midfield held their own while the Down forward line finally showed what they were capable of. Niamh Mallon was in unstoppable form finishing with a tally of 1-4. Catherine McGourty (0-4) and Sara Louise Carr (0-4) showed their class while Laura Hughes (0-1) and Lisa McCrickard (0-2) contributed to the tally. While she was the only one of the Down forward line not to score, Nicola Branniff gave her best performance in a Down jersey so far and set up many scores for her team mates.
If this forward line continues to gel it augurs well for Down. The addition of Cathy Mulholland to the panel and the return from injury of Karen Tinnelly is an undoubted bonus. Things are very much on the up for this team and if they repeat this performance against Dublin it will make for a very interesting finale to the season.
Down team: Kelly O’Higgins, Emma McCormick, Fionnuala Carr (1-0), Ciara McGovern, Karen McMullan, Orla Maginn, Paula Gribben, Lisa McCrickard (0-2), Lisa McPolin, Sara Louise Carr (0-4), Nicola Branniff, Catherine McGourty (0-4), Laura Hughes (0-1), Fiona O’Neill, Niamh Mallon (1-4), Naomi Morgan, Ciara Magee, Karen Tinnelly, Catherine Mulholland, Robyn O’Prey, Maria McNally, Aoibheann O Neill. Management: Paddy Branniff, Emma Keith, Brian Canavan