Ursuline Overcome Ulster Challenger
Ursuline 4-5 – Cross & Passion College 0-8
Ursuline Convent Thurles are into an All Ireland Senior Camogie Final having seen off a challenge by the Ulster girls from Cross & Passion College, Ballycastle. The Tipp side had the home advantage with the venue being the County Camogie grounds in The Ragg. It started bang on time at 2pm and Cross and Passion were the first to score with a point from play in the opening seconds. It would be the only time the Northern side would lead. Eimear McGrath replied very quickly with a point, putting the teams level. Cross and Passion had a chance to go in front but mid-fielder and main free taker Róisín McCormack wearing the No. 9 jersey drove it wide. Conditions were dry but there was a blustery, icy wind blowing across The Ragg that made accuracy in free taking a challenge for both teams. Eimear McGrath failed to point two free chances shortly afterwards, the strong wind proving to be an obstacle once again. However when the opportunity to score from a free presented itself a third time Eimear was not found wanting and put UCT into a tenuous lead 0-2 to Cross & Passion 0-1.
At the Ursuline goal end Caoimhe Bourke proved indomitable throughout, both on the line and in driving frees well into her own half forward line. One of these was picked up by Eimear McGrath on the wing and she duly pointed her third to put UCT 2 points ahead. It was still anyone’s game. Half back Kellie Quirke and Katie Murphy and Niamh Long in the centre combined well to keep play and possession in Ursuline forward lines. Half forward Caoimhe Perdue hungrily vied for every ball coming her way. Any chance she got she powered through to create scoring opportunities and her determination resulted in a magnificent point from play. Working equally hard on the wing was Sarah Stakelum who capitalised on a breaking ball to sweep the sliothar past the Cross and Passion goalkeeper. This was followed shortly after by a cracking Caoimhe Perdue goal to put the Ursuline nicely in the lead, 2-4 to 0-2. The resourcefulness of Eimear Loughman, her passion and grit also proved invaluable to UCT. She worked the whole length of the field for the whole sixty minutes. Róisín McCormack for Passion refused to be daunted by the lead UCT were opening up and duly scored from a free to bring their tally to 3 points. There was good play from backs Ruth Hassett, Maureen Ryan and Emma Dunphy to keep at bay any dangerous Cross and Passion balls. The Northern girls got the final score of the first half with a free taken from a good vantage point in front of the goal just before the whistle. The half time score Ursuline 2-4, Cross and Passion 0-4.
It was Cross and Passion who came out first eager to make good the two score differential. Maria Ryan was on for centre forward Avril Quirke. UCT conceded a free, to be followed by a free given to UCT for a foul on Katie Murphy. Caoimhe Bourke took the free that found its way onto the stick of Caoimhe Perdue. She soloed the ball in with speed and it seemed that she was destined to score a goal but the Ballycastle goalie kept her wits to deflect the challenge away. It was the Ulster side who would get on the scoreboard first in the second half with a free from full forward Charlie McCarry. Cross and Passion now began to pick up the pace and there was pressure coming from their No. 10 Maeve Kelly and of course No. 9 Ròisín McCormack who really had an outstanding game for her team. She pointed yet another free to bring her side up to 0-6. The Ursulines had yet to score in the second half. Keeping them in the game at this stage was Caoimhe Bourke with a few spectacular saves. No. 10 Maeve Kelly came bounding in, passing to No. 9 Ròisín McCormack and it seemed certain the Ballycastle girls would find the net. However Caoimhe Bourke played the incoming ball before losing her balance slightly and still managing to clear it. Within about three minutes she saved another cracking shot stopping Ròisín McCormack’s attempt dead on the line. Still the Ursuline had no second half score. Eimear McGrath drove a free wide in the 15th minute. Katie Murphy was replaced by Jill Shanahan. The Thurles side needed something to lift their game. Then it came with a Niamh Long pass to Caoimhe Perdue who made a speedy run into towards the goal mouth only to be stopped by their goalie. The ball was still in play and the Ursuline forwards descended on it in an effort to get it over the line. Mission was accomplished when Maria Ryan, in the midst of the scramble, connected with the sliothar. It wasn’t a classic goal but the green flag was raised to give the Ursulines their third. A Caoimhe Bourke free sent the ball soaring up into the UCT end only for it to come back within seconds. Avril Ryan did a great job of keeping it out of the danger zone. Cross and Passion pointed again from a Charlie McCarry free. The board now read Ursuline 3-4 CPC 0-7.
Then Niamh Long made a great catch, she passed to Caoimhe Perdue who gave it onto sub Jill Shanahan who found the net. This was the Ursulines fourth goal of the afternoon and a place in the All Ireland final seemed assured with a 9 point advantage as the game drew to a close. However all was not over yet. Caoimhe Bourke made another save to deny CPC a late goal. Claire Stakelum scored a lovely point from play to push UCT even further out in front. This was the last UCT score. Cross and Passion never gave up though and Caoimhe Wright sent the ball through the uprights to bring their score to 0-8 just before the finish. So the Ursuline will now face Loreto Kilkenny in the final. An impressive achievement considering this is only their second year playing in the Senior A division. Caroline Mullaney, who proved such a stalwart in the backs for the Munster Final was sorely missed in the Semi. She was gutted to be missing due to ill health so fingers crossed she will be fully recovered for the final. It’s the turn of the Junior A’s next week. Best of luck to them and hopefully they can emulate the success of the Seniors.
Scorers for Ursuline were Eimear McGrath 0-3; Sarah Stakelum 1-0; Claire Stakelum 0-1; Maria Ryan 1-0; Caoimhe Perdue 1-1; Jill Shanahan 1-0.
Ursuline team: Caoimhe Bourke; Emma Dunphy; Moira Kinnane; Avril Ryan; Ruth Hassett; Maureen Ryan; Kellie Quirke; Niamh Long; Katie Murphy; Claire Stakelum; Avril Quirke; Caoimhe Perdue; Sarah Stakelum; Eimear Loughman; Eimear McGrath; Ciara Dempsey; Laura Kirwan; Emma McCormack; Ciara Nyland; Caoimhe Quirke; Jill Shanahan; Maria Ryan; Emma O’Dwyer; Katie Ryan; Grainne Long; Ellie Ryan; Niamh Keane; Ciara Quirke; Maria Connolly; Megan Long; Caroline Mullaney.