Courcey Rovers Shade it in Thrilling Encounter with St. Catherines
It was Courcey Rovers who took the spoils after a tough, nail-biting encounter with St. Catherines in the SE Systems Cork Camogie Senior Championship first round fixture played at Castle Road on Saturday last.
Over recent years the sides have had many exciting and close games with both racking up big scores to show they are well matched in the skill stakes and this fixture did not disappoint as it threw up a mouth-watering display of scores, skill and stick work throughout.
In the opening two minutes the sides traded points via an Orla Cotter 50 metre free from the right sideline and a Fiona Keating effort from play. However, Courceys were dealt a blow in the fourth minute when Finola Neville was first to react to collect from a scramble and drill low to the net to push the Saints three clear. An unanswered brace from sisters Finola and Orna Neville had them five clear on 5 with Courceys struggling to get a grip on the game.
Jacinta Crowley settled the side on 7 when she pointed a 45 metre free before Cotter cancelled it out a minute later with a placed ball to see St. Catherines lead 1-04 to 0-02.
Two fine Niamh O’Regan saves from Sara Hayes either side of a Crowley placed ball had Courceys showing signs of penetrating the Catherines defence before Crowley slotted over a 45 metre free on the quarter mark to cut the deficit to three.
On 17 Hayes fired over before the unerring Crowley shot over two close range frees to level the proceedings three minutes from the short whistle. The game was to really spark to life in the closing three minutes of the half as Grainne Hannon reacted to a Hayes handpass effort that came back off the upright as she coolly swept the sliotar into the net to give Courceys a three point lead.
The lead was short-lived however, as Catherines rallied and Aoife Hurley, proving sprightly in the corner, showed the defense a clean pair of heels to blast past Sinead O’Reilly in the Courcey goal and level proceedings once again. Catherines had the final say of the half when Cotter fired over a close range free to take them to the dressing room with a one point advantage St. Catherines 2-05, Courcey Rovers 1-07.
Linda Collins turned over the lead within moments of the restart when she deftly flicked the sliotar off the stick of O’Regan and into the back of the net to register Courceys second and the games fourth goal. Once again the narrow lead was short lived as the experienced Cotter didn’t waste an opportunity to blast a quick free to the back of the net on 35 to give the Saints a one point lead.
Cotter and Crowley exchanged frees before Hurley pounced again to blast to the net and open up a four point lead on 40. Two Crowley placed balls cut the deficit to two before Hurley penetrated the Courcey defence to register her third goal and put Catherines five clear for the second time in the game.
Courceys remained resolute and not for the first time the unerring Crowley pulled two back for Courceys with placed balls before Collins cut through the Catherines defence to fire home her second goal and level the game for the third time.
A Keating point was quickly cancelled out by Neville to restore parity St. Catherines 5-07, Courcey Rovers 3-13 on 59. However, when Collins attempted to carve a way through the defence in added time she was fouled and Crowley had the arduous task of pointing a tight angled 20 metre free to give Courceys the slimmest victory 3-14 to St. Catherines 5-07.
St. Catherines: N. O’Regan, M. O’Keeffe, M. Walsh, Y. O’Neill (c), C. Motherway, L. Hayes, AM Rohan, O. Cotter, O. Neville, J. O’Keeffe, F. Neville, E. O’Brien, M. Rohan, E. Ronayne, A. Hurley.
Subs: L. O’Donnell for M. Rohan (43).
Courcey Rovers: S. O’Reilly, M. O’Donovan, K. Keohane, C. Hayes, A. Hannon, A. Moloney (c), A. O’Reilly, J. Crowley, E. O’Reilly, S. McCarthy, C. O’Neill, F. Keating, S. Hayes, G. Hannon, L. Collins.
St. Catherines: A. Hurley 3-00, O. Cotter 1-04 (1-04f), F. Neville 1-02, O. Neville 0-01
Courcey Rovers: L. Collins 2-00, J. Crowley 0-11 (0-09f, 0-0245), F. Keating 0-02, S. Hayes 0-01.
Referee: Diarmuid Kirwan, Éire Óg
Pic Credit: Trevor Patchett