A bridge too far for brave Convent team

‘Slow start cost us dearly’ – Hession
O’Neill’s All-Ireland Colleges Senior Camogie ‘C’ Final St Joseph’s, Rochfortbridge 1-8 Convent of Mercy, Roscommon 1-7

A nervy opening fifteen-minute spell cost Convent of Mercy, Roscommon dearly as they ultimately suffered an agonising one-point defeat in last Saturday’s All-Ireland Colleges Senior Camogie ‘C’ Final.

  That was the view of joint team manager Teresa Hession, who told People Sport after the final whistle: “It’s tough to lose an All-Ireland final by a point. Looking back, I suppose the first fifteen minutes cost us. We were slow to settle.”

  A dramatic late rally which saw them score a goal and two points in the final seven minutes was not enough to save Convent of Mercy, Roscommon in this final, played in difficult conditions in Mountmellick on Saturday last.

  The Roscommon girls will be wondering this week what might have happened if their late period of supremacy started earlier, however it must be said that Rochfortbridge were the better side overall and that they deserved their victory.

  Teresa Hession reflected: “Conditions were tough out there today and our forwards did not fire as much as they were capable of. They got ahead of us early, so we were always chasing the game. It was tough to be chasing the whole game. But we finished so well, and we finished the first half well too – but it was a dogged, physical battle.

  “I am very proud of our girls out there today. They gave it everything and we switched the team around and the players adapted to that but it is sickener to lose by a single point.

  “The pitch was very heavy and that slowed the game down and we would have preferred to have played the game at more pace.

  “But the best of luck to Rochfortbridge, they got the rub of the green today, but I am very proud of our girls. It just wasn’t to be.”

  Played on a very heavy pitch and with an icy cold wind blowing directly down the field, the game was dominated by the free-takers, Leah Rowe of Roscommon and Ciara O’Looney of Rochfortbridge. O’Looney pointed frees in the 6th and 8th minutes respectively before Leah Rowe got the Roscommon side off the mark in the 9th minute with a well-struck 45-metre free.

  In a tight game with very few goal chances, Rochfortbridge were edging the exchanges, with Hannah Core outstanding for them at centre half-forward. The Westmeath girls led heading towards half-time, but Roscommon rallied. Rachel Fitzmaurice was growing into the game and her pace was giving the Rochfortbridge defence plenty of problems. She was fouled in the 29th minute and Leah Rowe pointed the resultant free. When Rowe pointed from another placed ball in injury-time, the sides were level at the break, 0-4 each.

  In the third quarter, with the wind at their backs, Rochfortbridge pulled away. O’Looney pointed from two frees before Rachel Fitzmaurice scored a brilliant point following a mazy run. But the Roscommon girls were not able to make a sustained assault on the Rochfordbridge goal and the Westmeath girls held the upperhand.

  Two further pointed frees from Ciara O’Looney saw the gap at three points (0-8 to 0-5) by the 50th minute. Then Rochfortbridge struck for a killer goal in the 53rd minute when Hannah Core drove at the Roscommon defence. There was a suspicion that she may have over-carried the ball, but she drove the sliothar to the Roscommon net and it looked like game over at that stage.

  Yet the Roscommon girls staged a late rally that almost succeeded. Leah Rowe converted a 30-metre free in the 56th minute and then, with the game slipping into extra-time, Rachel Fitzmaurice burst through for an excellent point. Then, in the second minute of time added on, Rachel Fitzmaurice made another searing run into the heart of the Rochfortbridge defence. Her shot struck the butt of the post, but she scrambled the rebound into the net – and now there was only one in it. The final whistle sounded shortly afterwards and Roscommon’s brave bid had fallen just short.

  Best for Rochfortbridge were Meghan Carroll, Ciara O’Looney, Laura Doherty, Aoife Doherty and the outstanding Hannah Core. For a gallant Roscommon side, Rachel Fitzmaurice had a tremendous game and Eala Ni Cumhaill, Leah Rowe and Grainne Whyte were also prominent.

St Joseph’s, Rochfortbridge: Edel Conaty; Aine Brady, Meghan Carroll, Anna Weir; Ellen Cronin, Ruth O’Connor, Aoife O’Malley; Laura Doherty, Ciara O’Looney (0-7, all frees); Ava Balfe, Hannah Core (1-0), Aoife Doherty (0-1); Kate Coleman, Jade McKeogh, Sara Burke. Subs: Amelia Shaw for Coleman (h-t), Laura Kilcoyne for Burke (h-t).

Convent of Mercy, Roscommon: Fiona Tully; Jessica McDermott, Eala Ni Cumhaill, Aisling McDermott; Anne Marie Murray, Niamh Farrell, Rachel Dolan; Nora Brennan, Leah Rowe (0-5, all frees); Rachel Fitzmaurice (1-2), Laura Keenan, Grainne Whyte; Etain Hession, Shauna Fallon, Colleen Kelly. Subs: Patsy Farrell for Kelly (39), Lisa Mullen for Hession (52).

Referee: Broughan O’Reilly (Laois).

Player of the Match: Hannah Core (St. Joseph’s, Rochfortbridge)