AIB SENIOR CLUB All-Ireland semi final
St Vincent’s 0-8
By Sarah O’Donovan
ST VINCENT’S will rue two missed goal chances in the opening 10 minutes when they reflect on a disappointing but entertaining hour of camogie in Tipperary.
It was a first All-Ireland club semi-final for the Marino side since 1998 despite the Leinster champions dominating the Dublin championship since 2015, winning four county titles in five years, contesting three Leinster finals.
There had been two consecutive one-point losses to Wexford kingpins Oulart The Ballagh and Kilkenny outfit Thomastown in the 2015 and 2016 before Vincent’s went the distance in 2019.
Their opponents Sarsfields have suffered a pair of All-Ireland final defeats to Slaughtneil and from the first whistle their urgency to make amends was evident.
Full forward and player of the match Siobhan McGrath opened the Galway side’s account and had tagged on a second when a gilt-edged chance fell to St Vincent’s experienced full forward Aine Fanning in front of goal.
Sars goalkeeper Laura Glynn and fullback Laura Ward, however, suffocated Fanning and the play moved back up the field.
A second goal chance materialised moments later for lively corner forward Claire Donnelly but Glynn was like lightning off the line to take player and ball and snuff out the chance.
Vincent’s had to settle instead for two Ali Maguire pointed frees and, as the half wore on, Sars found more and more pockets of space to exploit.
Orlaith McGrath tacked on a neat point and her sister Siobhan hit three further frees before the break to bring her personal tally to 0-5.
Niamh Hetherton and two further frees from Maguire came in reply but three wides ensured St Vincent’s went in at the break trailing 0-6 to 0-5.
Due to a colour clash, Sars opted to change to a green set of kit for the second half and they emerged the sharper outfit.
Siobhan McGrath notched her sixth point before St Vincent’s worked a neat point through Claire Donnelly.
Direct running from Eimear McCarthy engineered the levelling score for the Dublin champions but it was to be as close as St Vincent’s would come.
A three-minute spell saw Sars pillage Vincent’s for 1-1, the goal coming from Rachel Murray.
Referee Owen Elliot awarded Sars two penalties in the remaining 15 minutes as Vincent’s defence struggled to cope with the Galway side’s relentless running.
Siobhan McGrath opted to take her point on each occasion as the lead mounted.
But for a rock solid showing from goalkeeper Claire Clinton, it might have been even wores in that difficult second half; she displayed immense confidence to ensure no further goals were leaked.
There was time for one late run from Eimear McCarthy and St Vincent’s but her goal effort was well blocked down by Glynn. Leaving eight points in the gap.
Despite the immense pressure, they must be commended for restricting Sars to just one goal.
Lora Smith was immense in blue and white again, capping an impeccable season in the trenches while Evelyn Twomey, full of running, more than justified her late inclusion. Niamh Hetherton’s performance will likely be a talking point for the senior Dublin camogie management as she showed flashes of brilliance that would be of use to Dublin in 2020.