Inniscarra 1-11 St Finbarr's 1-6
INNISCARRA are back in the SE Systems Cork Senior Camogie final for the sixth time in a row.
For a side that lost their opening round to the same opposition, their progress since has once again been outstanding and they turned the tables on St Finbarrs in a well-deserved victory in Castle Road on Saturday.
From the second minute when Player of the Match Aileen Sheehan goaled, Inniscarra led, and at one stage by eight points. St Finbarr's pulled it back to four and had they not consistently gone for goal with close-range frees in the final 10 minutes, the game could have gone at least gone to extra time.
But in truth that would have been unfair to Inniscarra who were the better team throughout.
The squad that keeps on giving with a wonderful never-say-die spirit, Sheehan, Joanne Casey, and Katie O’Mahony were once again brilliant and their full-back line of Áine O’Regan, Ciara Ring and Caitlin Looney were inspirational. Time and again they intercepted or dug deep and emerged with the ball.
The Barrs looked very nervy in the opening half, maybe their failure to get past the semi-final since 2008 played on their minds. The confidence that we have seen them play with this season wasn’t there and a number of poor wides seemed to sap the adrenaline out of them. Scoring just one point from play in thirty minutes was a tell-tale sign as Inniscarra led 1-6 to 0-3 at the break.
Despite the close attention of Lynda O’Connell, Aileen Sheehan was unstoppable. Finishing to the net from a narrow-angle in the second minute she hit her third point on the stroke of half time, after taking the foul advantage, recovering, and hitting a lovely score.
She played deeper in the second half and still got forward for her fourth point on 56 minutes.
The work-rate of Inniscarra was immense, even though at times in that opening period as both teams were trying to gain the upper hand, their marking was slack, leaving Sorcha McCartan free to spread beautiful ball cross-field to Gemma O’Connor and inside to Orlaith Cahalane. Their defensive play inside however nullified the threat that was created.
Trailing by six points at half time, the mountain was looking steep for the Barrs, but not insurmountable. It was steeper after Claudia Keane and a Joanne Casey free made it eight.
But a lifeline arrived. A ball struck inside by Ciara Golden was batted by goalkeeper Caoimhe Buckley into the path of Keeva McCarthy who made no mistake. A five-point gap is little in hurling and there were 23 minutes left to play.
The goal evidently lifted the spirit of the Barrs but Joanne Casey’s free pushed them back down a little. Sorcha McCartan and Orlaith Cahalane hit another two, narrowing the gap to four but that was as close as St Finbarr's got.
They had chances from placed balls and in hindsight with the number of frees they were awarded they had enough to at least draw level. But at the time they were chasing the game.
They weren’t making any headway in general play due to the intensity of Inniscarra, their magnificent defence, Sheehan, O’Mahony and Casey, the latter assisting with easing the pressure on her backs and making brilliant runs up the right.
Inniscarra may had have just three scorers on the board but the work rate of their forwards and ability to find the better-positioned player had a big say.
Over time players retire and replenish on teams. Across the past 12 seasons, Inniscarra have had their own share yet still they produce teams of heart, skill, and desire. Credit to them with one more step to go.