Raharney’s Aisling Keogh and Terese Murray celebrate after the final whistle. Photo: John McCauley

First half goals crucial as Raharney clinch eighth consecutive title

Westmeath Senior ‘A’ Camogie Championship final: Raharney 2-11, Clonkill 1-13 (after extra time)

A sizeable crowd at rain-soaked TEG Cusack Park, Mullingar yesterday was treated to a thrilling Westmeath senior ‘A’ camogie final, in which Raharney emerged as winners for the eighth consecutive season after being pushed all the way by a game Clonkill side.

Clonkill, with more games under their belt in the league phase, looked that little bit sharper than their opponents for long stretches of this game, with sisters Megan and Holly Dowdall in fine form. However, it was the concession of two first-half goals which denied Alo Egerton’s charges the Matrix Cup.

The first of those goals came after 11 minutes, when Terese Murray netted for Raharney from close range. The rest of the half was largely a shooting contest between the Dowdalls and Raharney’s Aoife Doherty (0-3), with Caoimhe Scally also chipping in for the challengers with a magnificently-worked point after 27 minutes.

However, Elaine Finn netted for the Deelsiders a minute later after blocking down a clearance from Clonkill netminder Rebecca Dunne, and after all of their hard work, the Loughegar girls went in at half-time trailing 2-5 to 0-6.

Some positional changes led to Megan Dowdall being deployed on the inside line for Clonkill, and this paid almost immediate dividends when the Westmeath star struck for a spectacular goal three minutes after the restart.

Clonkill enjoyed long spells of possession in the second half, but this never translated into a meaningful run of scoring which would have comfortably won them the game. That said, when Megan Dowdall pointed a free on 56 minutes to level matters (2-7 to 1-10), Raharney came perilously close to being toppled.

Both sides had late chances, but the sides couldn’t be separated and extra time was required. In that period Raharney’s big-game experience counted.

Late in the second half of extra time, points from Amelia (0-3) and Ellen Shaw put the Blues four clear of Clonkill, who also lost centre half Claire Gaffney to injury.

However, in the additional time played due to that injury, Clonkill went for the jugular, with Megan Dowdall (a free) and sub Niamh Keogh reducing the arrears to two points as Raharney began to sweat. Dowdall added another free moments later, in the hope that there might be time for an equaliser.

But referee Ger Goldrick blew the whistle, and at full-time, Raharney captain Fiona Leavy received the Matrix Cup from Sheila Devine of Westmeath Camogie Board, with Clonkill’s Megan Dowdall presented with the player of the match award by Westmeath senior camogie manager, Diarmuid Cahill.

Pádraic Connaughton’s troops progress to the Leinster intermediate club camogie championship, and face an away trip to Kilkenny to play James Stephens later this month.

Scorers – Raharney: A Shaw 0-7 (5f, 2 ‘45s’), A Doherty 0-3, T Murray, E Finn 1-0 each, E Shaw 0-1. Clonkill: M Dowdall 1-8 (0-8f), H Dowdall 0-2, C Scally, C Coogan, N Keogh 0-1 each.

Raharney: Anna Weir; Katie Coleman, Jade McKeogh, Mary Geraghty; Aisling Keogh, Fiona Leavy (capt.), Aisling Doyle; Laura Doherty, Aoife O’Malley; Aoife Boyle, Amelia Shaw, Maria Kelly; Aoife Doherty, Terese Murray, Elaine Finn. Subs: Méadbh Monaghan for Doyle (19), Ellen Shaw for Boyle (h-t), Ciara Keogh for Murray (54), Murray for A Doherty (55), A Doherty for Finn (e-t).

Clonkill: Rebecca Dunne; Ellen Flanagan, Méadbh Scally, Áine Doyle; Krista Tamosiunaite, Claire Gaffney, Aisling Egerton; Caoimhe Coogan, Holly Dowdall; Alanna Coogan, Lucy Power, Megan Dowdall (capt.); Chloe Galligan, Laura Gaffney, Caoimhe Scally. Subs: Niamh Keogh for Galligan (39), Shauna Kenny for L Gaffney (56), Annmarie O’Reilly for Doyle (60+2), Ellie O’Brien for Kenny (13, e-t), Sarah Kiernan for C Gaffney (inj., 16, e-t).

Referee: Ger Goldrick (Ringtown).