Thursday, 21 August 2014

Waterford look to move one step closer to All-Ireland Glory


Waterford last chance of appearing in an All-Ireland Final to be played at Croke Park this year rests on the shoulders of the counties Intermediate Ladies football team.

Since Waterford lost their senior status in 2008 after playing senior for over 20 years having won the Junior Final in 1986, the first to be played and won at Croke Park, they have played some very good football.

Just over a month ago, Waterford won their six successive Munster Intermediate final.

While Waterford has been very consistent when it comes to the game at National level, but have gone close on a number of occasions.

Waterford has reserved some of their best football since dropping to intermediate for the even number year.

In 2010 the side lost to Donegal at Croke Park in the All-Ireland Final and two years later opposition from Ulster, this time Armagh were to end Waterford’s hopes of getting back up to senior.

In previewing the All-Ireland Camogie semi final last week, I made reference to the superstitious amongst us, and how they believe 3 to be a lucky number, so as 2014 is the third even number year that has come our way since Waterford dropped a grade, hopefully it will be a case of third time lucky.

However, before Waterford are crowned All-Ireland Champions, they have a long way to go first, starting this weekend with an All-Ireland quarter final against Fermanagh this Saturday at Blanchardstown in Dublin.

The challenge of Fermanagh will one that Waterford will not be taking lightly. Waterford will know from their All-Ireland defeats to Donegal and Armagh in recent years as well as last years All-Ireland quarter final defeat to Cavan, that ladies football in Ulster at this point is strong and that more and more sides want to join the likes of Armagh and Monaghan amongst others playing at the top table.

The sides clashed in the semi final in 2010 and on that occasion the two sides played out a very close battle which Waterford won on a 2-10 to 0-14 score line, and it would be no surprise if this weekend’s battle was to prove to be just as tight.

The two sides played in different divisions in this year’s National League. Fermanagh played in division two, where they lost all seven games they played and found themselves relegated as a consequence for the 2015 league.

Waterford played in Division three, where they won five games in the league section of the competition, loosing to Sligo and Armagh before loosing to Armagh again in the final at Parnell Park.

On that day, it was only late in the second half that Armagh pulled away from a Waterford sides that really put it up to the eventual winners. On the day, not for the first time lady luck was not with Waterford. A penalty was missed and Armagh intercepted a pass out of the Waterford defence before half time and scored a goal from it.

Fermanagh in the Ulster Championship lost to down in their first game before beating Antrim and then lost to Down again in the Provincial decider.

The Ulster side have an advantage going into this game in that they have played a competitive game between their Ulster Final loss and this game. They played Antrim again recently in the second round of qualifiers, a game they won 4-18 to 1-4.

Every side has at least one star player and Fermanagh have one in Caroline Little. She could well prove to be a thorn in the side of the Waterford defence on Saturday afternoon, but in saying that Waterford most certainly have the players that can keep Caroline Little quiet.

The problem about keeping one particular player quite at times is that you run the risk of allowing others to be the star for the day, and in the likes of Kirsty McGuinness, Lynn McFrederick and Edel Campbell the ulster side have other match winning players other than Caroline Little.

In the Munster Championship, Waterford again had a good campaign.

After a struggle for much of the game with Limerick in the opening game of the league section of the competition, Waterford were pinned to the collar by a dogged Limerick side and it was only late in the game that Waterford were able to hit the scores that secured the win.

In Waterford’s second game played at Carrick-on-Suir against Tipperary, Waterford had no such worries and easily accounted for John Leahy’s charges, which set up a Munster Final against Limerick who had beaten Tipperary between the time they played Waterford and when Waterford beat Tipperary.

In the Munster Final, Waterford easily beat Limerick in the curtain raiser to the Cork and Kerry senior final.

Waterford were always on top in this game. Sometimes, when two teams meet in close proximity, the advantage lies with the team that lost the first game as the winners of the first game might have a mental thing at the back of their mind telling them that because they won the first day they will win the second. Not having seen the game, I cant sat that Limerick might be over confident going into the Munster Final and may have underestimated how strong Waterford are.

Taking a look at the Waterford panel will show how strong the side is. Many of the side are around now with a few years, while Pat O’Brien has brought in some new blood this year which had freshened up things as well, something that can only be good in any panel.

Linda, Mairead and Aileen Wall, Michelle and Karen McGrath, Michelle and Louise Ryan, Grainne Enright, Aimee Jordan, Grainne Kenneally, Nora Dunphy, Elaine Power, Hannah Landers, Mary Foley, Shona Curran and Margaret Revins all very experienced players at this level while the likes of Liz Devine, Megan O’Connor, Lauren McGregor and Shauna Dunphy have settled in nicely to the panel this year and have made their mark in different games.

On what has happened in competitive games so far this year, Waterford could well go into this game as the favourites.

But lets not under-estimated the challenge of Fermanagh too quickly or to easily. They may have not won a game in the league, but they played against what some might say were stronger opposition to Waterford and this is something that should stand to the team. They also have had the advantage of a competitive game against Antrim recently. Waterford too played games, but no challenge game comes near a competitive game, and they have also played in what is a very competitive Ulster Championship, where when teams win and move up to senior, they are more than a match for anyone else.

However, in saying this, I for one expect Waterford will come out on top in this game. The side is very experience, and even on the bench this year, a great deal of experience can be sprung at any stage.  

Waterford look for All-Ireland glory against Derry


Twelve months ago, Waterford were beaten in the All-Ireland under 16 Camogie Final against Cork at Mallow.

This coming weekend Waterford will be hoping to make up for that defeat, for when they play Derry at Leixlip on Sunday afternoon.

Waterford manager Declan Drohan has assembled what is an experienced panel this year, and he and his charges will take to the road on Sunday morning, confident of winning, but at the same time will respect the challenge that Derry will serve up.

Nine members of last year’s panel are included in this year’s panel. Brianna O’Regan, Courtney Healy and Beth Carton from De La Salle, team captain Aisling Power from Cappoquin and Club mate Clodagh Glavin, Megan Dunford of the Brickeys, Kate McMahon as well as the Saint Annes duo of Sibeal Harney and Saoirse Bonner can all have a big influence on this game. Having done it all before, they could surely be used in the dressing room and in the build up to the game to talk to other players about what they can expect when playing in an All-Ireland final.

Since loosing to last years final to Cork, some of these players would have gained some extra experience which should stand to them in this game.

Brianna O’Regan, Courtney Healy, Beth Carton and Sibeal Harney were part of the Waterford minor that won this years All-Ireland Minor ‘B’ Final, while the De La Salle three-o also helped Presentation College Waterford to a Junior Camogie final earlier in the year. Even if defeat was to be the sides lot on the day, playing in such games is extra experience and loosing out in such occasions could make you even more determined to win should you get to play in another All-Ireland Final.

Both sides in this years final have come from the one group in the league stages of the championship, meaning that both will be familiar with each other and should know the others strengths and weaknesses and will be working on this over the past few weeks at training.

Derry began their championship campaign with a round two game against Cork at Donaghmore against Cork, a game they won 4-5 to 2-5.

The two sides met at Donaghmore in the third round of games, where Waterford came out on top, winning 4-13 to 3-8. After this, the Oak Leaf county recorded two wins with wins over Antrim (4-15 to 0-4) and Tipperary (8-7 to 2-6) to secure their place in the semi finals.

If Derry’s path to the knock-out stages of the championship is impressive, to find an adjective to describe Waterford’s path to the semi final is hard to find.

In the first game of the competition, Waterford easily beat Cork 5-15 to 0-10 at Walsh Park. In round two, Waterford made the trip to Donaghmore, a home away from home for many sides from the south of the country who play northern opposition in Camogie and returned home with a 7-112 to 3-9 win against Antrim.

It was back to the County Meath venue for a round three game with Derry, where another win for Waterford was secured and the side rounded off the league section of the competition in round four with a 3-16 to 0-6 win over Tipperary at The Ragg.

In the semi finals, both sides again put up impressive tallies on the score board. At Inniskeen, Derry had little trouble in beating Dublin 7-12 to 3-8 while Waterford travelled to the Capital to play Down at O’Toole Park in Crumlin, winning the game on a 1-014 to 0-4 score line.

Both sides head to Leixlip this Sunday and will feel that they can win.

Having lost the earlier game between the two sides, Derry will feel that they will have learned more from that game. Often the side that looses the first day when sides meet in the same competition in the one year, goes on to win the second game.

Waterford’s experience picking up in winning two Munster ‘B’ Finals in a row, playing in last years final, as well as having players that have helped the county win a Minor ‘B’ All-Ireland final and playing in an All-Ireland Colleges final this year has to count for something.

Waterford Panel: Saoirse English (Tramore);  Roisin Oates (Ferrybank), Roisin Uniacke, Laura Murray, Sinead O' Brien, Clodagh Glavin, Aisling Power, (all Cappoquin), Chloe Dempsey, Collette Hogan, Beth Carton, Caoimhe Drohan, Niamh Murphy, Brianna O' Regan, Courtney Healy, Taylor Healy, (all De La Salle), Sinead Cunningham, Anne Corcoran, (both Gailltir), Sharon Williams, Ellen Curran, (both Lismore), Sibeal Harney, Saoirse Bonner, Rachel McDonald, (all Saint Annes), Aoife Shanahan, Kate McMahon, Sally Brown (Butlerstown), Meagan Dunford, Kate McGrath (both Brickeys)

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

No joy in semi final, but Waterford are not far off the mark


For the third year running defeat was Waterford’s lot at the semi final stage of the All-Ireland Camogie championship on Saturday afternoon last when they went under to what is a strong Limerick panel, who at the end of sixty minutes had one point to spare.

Naturally, the players and management are going to be disappointed with the final result of the game. But the Waterford panel as well as those working with it, can and should take some solace in the fact that Camogie in Waterford is on the way up and the day is not too far off when the side will not just get past the semi final hurdle, but will also taste success on All-Ireland Final day in Croke Park.

Twelve months ago, when reporting on here on the defeat to Galway at the Ragg at the same stage of the competition, I said great strides are being made with the game in Waterford and have to repeat what I said then again this year.

The past twelve months has seen Waterford clubs Gailltir and De La Salle perform extremely well at Feile, with Gailltir coming back from the north with the division two final on the team bus for the second year in a row.

The counties under 16 team retained the Munster ‘B’ Final they won twelve months ago and this weekend the side play Derry in the All-Ireland final where they will be hoping to make up for the disappointment of loosing to Cork twelve months ago.

The Counties Minor team won the All-Ireland ‘B’ Final and Lismore won the All-Ireland Intermediate Club Final after a replay and Butlerstown performed well in the Munster Junior Club Championship, while Presentation College Waterford contested a Colleges All-Ireland final earlier this year.

On each of these teams there is some very good players and there is some exceptional players, and it is only a matter of time that they force their way into the counties Intermediate team and when this happens, it can be taken that the side will be a force to be reckoned with and when they get up to senior, the side will hold its own against many counties.

Starting with several changes to the team that lost to Galway in the 2013 semi final and with one player remaining in the same position, Waterford began brightly against Limerick at Dr Cullen Park in Carlow.

After Limerick had missed some good opportunities to tag on some early scores, Waterford opened the scoring through Lismore’s Caithriona McGlone. Karen Kelly hit over a free to double Waterford’s advantage before Caitriona McGlone extended the lead with her second score of the game, her shot narrowly going over the crossbar when it seem destined for the net after some good spade work by fellow Lismore player Ruth Geoghegan in the build up.

The Lismore full forward was causing problems in the Limerick backs and she got through once more moments after registering her second of the game, but the Limerick defence did well to keep the shot out, putting the ball over the end-line for a forty-five which Saint Anne’s Karen Kelly converted to give Waterford a four point advantage.

Limerick’s first score of the game came courtesy of a free from Niamh Mulcahy. Lorraine Bray of the Cappoquin Club soon cancelled out the score, but the dangerous Ahane club player quickly registered her second of the afternoon to leave three between the sides, a lead the same player cut to two on twenty-one minutes when she pointed once more.

Waterford however playing with the wind at their backs would go in at the break with a three point advantage after Karen Kelly struck her third score of the game when she converted a long range free.

Trailing 0-6 to 0-3 at the break, Limerick came out for the second half with the wind at their backs a much stronger outfit and for the first twenty minutes of the second half inflicted a lot of pressure on the Waterford team which had changes made to it at the break.

Limerick moved to within two of Waterford four minutes into the second half when Niamh Mulcahy put over another free.

The Ahane club player would add another three points and Aoife Shanahan and Caoimhe Costello also got in on the act to bring Limerick from three points down at the break to three points in front with eight minutes of the game remaining.

Lorraine Bray closed the gap to two with Waterford’s first score of the second half with time ticking down on the clock.

Waterford refused to wave the white towel and continued to attack the Limerick defence at every opportunity.

A free won by Waterford, struck by Patricia Jackman fell just short of the target and was cleared by the Limerick defence, but again Waterford refused to surrender.

In added time another free was won, this time twenty metres from goal and the Gailltir sharp shooter shot over the bar to leave just one between the sides.

Waterford continued to search for the score that would have got the side a result they deserved, but time ran out.

It was heartbreak for Waterford once more. But the side can as already pointed out, can take something from the fact as a group and the game in the county are moving in the right direction and it’s only a matter of time before what the team are setting out to achieve at the start of each year is achieved.

Waterford: Deirdre Brennan; Mairead Murphy, Pauline Cunningham, Claire Whyte; Charlotte Raher, Patricia Jackman, Shauna Prendergast; Sinead Cummins, Emma Hannon; Shona Curran, Karen Kelly, Lorraine Bray; Ruth Geoghegan, Caitriona McGlone, Niamh Rockett. Subs: Nicola Morrissey for Karen Kelly, Jennie Simpson for Mairead Murphy, Shauna Kiernan for Sinead Cummins, Fiona Morrissey for Jennie Simpson. Rest of the panel: Zoe O’Donoghue, Deirdre Nugent, Iona Heffernan, Valerie O’Brien.  

Scorers: Karen Kelly 0-3 (3 frees), Caitriona McGlone, Lorraine Bray 0-2 each, Patricia Jackman 0-1 (free).

Limerick: Sile Moynihan; Fiona Hickey, Michelle Casey, Judith Mulcahy; Karen O’Leary, Sarah Carey, Claire Mulcahy; Rebecca Delee, Mary O’Callaghan; Deborah Murphy, Niamh Mulcahy, Caoimhe Costello; Deirdre Fitzpatrick, Aoife Sheehan, Mairead Fitzgerald. Subs: Sinead McNamara for Deirdre Fitzpatrick, Dymphna O’Brien for Mairead Fitzgerald. Rest of the Panel:  Lorraine McCarthy, Laura O'Neill, Katie Campbell, Niamh Ryan, Sarah Collins, Aoife Wilson, Leanne Browne, Donna Mulcahy, Noreen Barry, Marguerita McCarthy, Katie Hennessey, Jane Wilson, Tara Fitzgibbon.

Scorers: Niamh Mulcahy 0-7 (5 frees), Caoimhe Costello, Aoife Shanahan 0-1 each.

Referee: Ray Kelly (Kildare)

Monday, 18 August 2014

Four places in County Senior Hurling Championship are confirmed




Four of the eight sides that will contest the quarter finals of this year’s JJ Kavanagh and Sons County Senior Hurling Championship are now known after the completion of games in round four of the league phase of the competition over the weekend.

Reigning Champions Passage moved a step closer to the last eight of the competition after they beat Fourmilewater having six points to spare at Fraher Field on Friday evening.

The champions were always in control in this game and headed to the dressing rooms at the break holding a 2-11 to 1-9 advantage.

Former inter county hurler Eoin Kelly struck the winners first goal on nine minutes when he was lurking in front of Brendan Lawlor’s goal when Killian Fitzgerald’s shot from out the field fell short.

Credit Fourmilewater however as they tried to pull that goal back, but they came up against Eddie Lynch who was in fine form for Passage who did well to keep efforts from Tommy Cooney and Shane Ryan out.

Fourmilewater did manage to raise a green flag five minutes from the break when Dermot Ryan flicked to the net. Passage however cancelled the score out two minutes later when Conor Carey having being set up by Rory Walsh finished to the net.

Fourmilewater did try to fight back in the second half with Jamie Barron landing some crucial scores, but a third goal for Passage from the hurl of Rory Walsh after some good work by Sean Hogan finished the game as a contest, with Passage running out 3-18 to 1-18 winners.

The second game on Friday evening saw De La Salle run out comfortable winners in an all city clash at Walsh Park against Roanmore.

The 2008, 2010 and 2012 champions who played without John Mullane were always in control in this game and at the break they held a 1-8 to 0-7 lead, the goal coming mid way through the half from John Keane.

Gavin O’Brien accounted for half a dozen scores for Roanmore in the first half and when he had to retire early in the second half with an injury, the Sky Blue hopes all but evaporated.

De La Salle hit six points in a row to open up a good lead towards the end of the game, and when John Keane struck for his second goal of the game five minutes from time, there was no disputing the outcome as De La Salle coasted to a 2-19 to 0-11 victory.

Ballygunner kept their winning start to this years championship in tact at Fraher Field on Sunday evening with a comprehensive 1-25 to 1-7 win over Tallow.

Inter county players Pauric Mahony and Brian O’Sullivan were on fire for Ballygunner in this game.

Mahony who has impressed throughout the year with Club, County and College hit ten points over the course of the hour while O’Sullivan hit six.

Playing against the breeze in the first half, Ballygunner held a double score advantage (10 points to five) at the break.

Tallow struck a goal through Evan Sheehan seven minutes after the restart, but it failed to ignite Tallow, who conceded a goal from Conor Power soon afterwards.

Dungarvan booked their place in the last eight of the championship when they beat Ballyduff Upper in the first of two games played at Fraher Field on Friday evening.

The Old Boro Club last contested the final in 2012 where they were beaten by De La Salle and have not won the final since the 1940’s but look as though they are heading in the right direction this year with what is a young but experienced team.

Dungarvan at the break having played with the wind at their backs in the opening half held a 0-14 to 0-4 advantage with all six starting forwards getting their names on the score sheet.

With the wind at their backs in the second half and spurred on my Mikey Kearney who hit seven points and the rock solid Cian Leamy Ballyduff played better in the second thirty minutes, but they had left themselves with too much to do.

Patrick Curran hit a goal eight minutes from time which was cancelled out with a Jamie Kearney effort after some good work by Stephen Molumphy, but it was not enough to prevent them from going under on a 1-18 to 1-11 score line.

Mount Sion also booked their place in the last eight of the championship when they easily accounted for Ardmore at Kill.

The Monastery Men proved far too strong for last years intermediate champions winning 1-26 to 2-8.

The result will have those making calls for the way the championships are run in Waterford to be seriously looked at.

Over the past number of years, only Dungarvan that has come up from winning the intermediate championship have made any real impact in the senior grade.

Roanmore have held their own, but have each year since coming up found themselves closer to a relegation battle than winning a place in the knockout stages of the competition, while An Rinn (twice) and Dunhill have found themselves relegated the year after moving up to senior.

Maybe now is the time that the numbers playing in the senior grade be cut and that a Senior ‘B’ or an Intermediate Premier Championship be set up as a stepping stone from the Intermediate and senior grades, with teams playing in such a championship coming from the two or four senior teams relegated plus the best performing intermediate teams from both divisions over the past three to five years.

Richie Roche had the ball in the Ardmore net in this game after just thirty seconds which helped his side to a 1-15 to 0-4 lead at the change of ends.

Not for the first time in recent years, Seamus Prendergast finished top scorer for Ardmore with 2-6 behind his name on the score sheet while there was also impressive performances from Austin Gleeson and Martin O’Neill for the winners.

Twelve months ago, Abbeyside went on a terrific run in the second half of the league stages of the championship to book their place in the knockout stages which they bowed out of at the semi final stages and it looks as they could be coming good at the right time again this year.

At the end of a tight first half Abbeyside held a 2-5 to 1-5 advantage.

Patrick Hurney hit the first of the games goals mid way through the first half. John Heneghan cancelled it out three minutes from time but Abbeyside from the restart went straight back up field and hit a second goal through John Hurney.

Playing with the breeze at their backs in the second half, Lismore were for times the better of the two sides.

The sides were level three times in the second thirty minutes but a second goal from John Hurney, five minutes from time proved to be crucial as Abbeyside held out for a 3-13 to 1-15 victory.

League Table Senior Hurling Championship Group 1

Team
Played
Won
Drawn
Lost
Points For
Points Against
Points Diff
Points
De La Salle
4
4
0
0
84
52
32
8
Passage
4
1
2
1
82
79
3
4
Abbeyside
4
2
0
2
75
75
0
4
Lismore
4
1
1
2
70
82
-12
3
Roanmore
4
1
1
2
58
72
-14
3
Fourmilewater
4
1
0
3
63
72
-9
2

Round Five Games:

Abbeyside V Roanmore at Kill; Fourmilewater V Lismore at Fraher Field; Passage V De La Salle at Walsh Park on Saturday evening.

League Table Senior Hurling Championship Group 2

Team
Played
Won
Drawn
Lost
Points For
Points Against
Points Diff
Points
Ballygunner
4
4
0
0
109
57
52
8
Mt. Sion
4
3
0
1
87
59
28
6
Dungarvan
4
3
0
1
94
69
25
6
Ballyduff Upper
4
1
0
3
63
83
-20
2
Tallow
4
1
0
3
53
85
-32
2
Ardmore
4
0
0
4
55
108
-53
0

Round Five Games:

Ballygunner V Ballyduff at Fraher Field, Mount Sion V Dungarvan at Walsh Park, Tallow V Ardmore Clashmore on Sunday evening.