Brave Rossies Downcast after heartbreaking loss in final

All-Ireland Minor ‘B’ Camogie Championship Final: Down 1-6 Roscommon 0-6An early goal from Down’s Erin Hagan was to prove the crucial difference as Roscommon suffered All-Ireland heartbreak last Saturday afternoon in Stradone, Co. Cavan.

  Both sets of players and supporters were well up for this one from the start (even the donkeys in a neighbouring field joined in with the National Anthem).

  Roscommon had enough chances to make it two All-Ireland championships in a row but it wasn’t to be as the northern team put them to the sword.

  Down came flying out of the blocks and Hagan capitalised on hesitant Roscommon defending to scramble home as the travelling Down contingent made their voices heard. Both sides were guilty of wasteful play shortly after as they hit two wides each. The impressive Neisha McCullough then stretched Down’s lead with a fine score after eight minutes.

  Despite the best efforts of Rachel Fitzmaurice and Nora Brennan, it took Roscommon ten minutes to get on the scoreboard. Leah Rowe found Fitzmaurice, who hit a well-struck point. Roscommon upped the intensity and Gráinne Whyte added another score before Down hit three without reply.

  This was low-scoring yet absorbing as two physical teams battled all over the Duke Park pitch. Roscommon’s running was causing Down problems and the accuracy improved in the last ten minutes of the first half. Leah Rowe struck three points, two from frees and another one on the turn, while Fitzmaurice took on the Down half-back line and fired over a wonderful effort. Encouraging from the Rossies, and if it wasn’t for a late score from Down’s Eimear Rushe the sides would have gone in level. As it was, Down held a narrow lead: 1-4 to 0-6.

  The second half was the story of six Roscommon wides as Down added two points to finish hopes of back-to-back championships for Shane Curley’s charges. 

  There was perhaps one moment in the half when time stood still for Roscommon. Lorraine Kenny fielded a Shauna Fallon delivery superbly, but with the whites of the goal in her eyes the referee blew for a free out, presumably for a square ball.

  It was a brave and battling Roscommon performance, which just came up short. Nevertheless, two All-Ireland final appearances in two years speaks volumes about the progress of this young team.

  Best for Roscommon were Nora Brennan and Rachel Fitzmaurice on a day when every player battled to the end.

Roscommon: F. Tully; A. McDermott, E. Lennon, K. Lavin; R. Dolan, N. Farrell, N. Brennan; L. Rowe, R. Fitzmaurice; S. Fallon, G. Whyte, L. Keenan; A. Dempsey, L. Kenny, E. McNally. Subs used: M. Tiernan for K. Lavin (28 mins), P. Farrell for Dempsey (43 mins).

Down: L. Clarke; M. O’Hare, C. Byrne, K. McGilligan; C. Caldwell, A. Woods, S. L. Clarke; N. McCullough, A. M. Smith; F. Toner, E. Ennis, K. McAleenan; N. McCabe, E. Rushe, E. Hagan. Subs used: B. Savage for McCabe (58 mins).

Referee: J. McDonagh (Galway).