TWO goals early in the second-half from Kiera Dooley set Birr on course for a comfortable victory in the Minor A Camogie Final in St Brendan’s Park last Saturday.
The sides also met in the final last year where St Rynagh’s came out on top so this victory was sweet revenge for a Birr side who won the Minor B title in 2008.
Playing against the strong wind in the first-half, Birr matched St Rynagh’s almost point for point and only went to the break a point adrift. Orlagh Kirwin dispatched four of the points from placed balls in the opening 30 minutes and on the day she finished with a very impressive haul of ten points, eight from frees and two from ‘45s.
While they were going to face an uphill battle in the second-half playing into the teeth of the elements, St Rynagh’s were still very much in the hunt to complete an incredible Minor A Camogie and Minor A Ladies Football double.
They needed a strong start to the second-half to stay in contention but within ten minutes of the restart they were seven points adrift and their chance to add to their football title won the previous week were all but gone.
The St Rynagh’s midfield of Mairead Daly and Emma Corcoran dis win the battle in the engine room and between them contributed four points from play but their forwards struggled to make an impression on the Birr defence which was excellently marshalled by Caroline Soupe.
Birr’s forwards weren’t prolific in their scoring exploits with three of the four points they scored coming in the last ten minutes however Kiera Dooley’s opportunist goals and Orlagh Kirwin’s unerring dead ball striking was enough to see them to a comfortable and deserved victory.
St Rynagh’s were first on the board with just a minute on the clock when Helen Dolan pointed a free. It is worth noting that that was St Rynagh’s only point from a placed ball which is a testament to the discipline and tight marking of the Birr backs.
Orlagh Kirwin opened Birr’s account after two minutes from a free for the first of her ten points on the day. St Rynagh’s were back in front soon after when Mairead Daly fired over the first of her three points on the day but an excellently judged curling effort from Eimear Mooney levelled the scores after seven minutes.
The sides continued to exchange points for the remainder of the half with Orlagh Kirwin adding two frees and a ’45 for Birr with Roisin Woods, Emma Corcoran and Aishling Maloney on target for St Rynagh’s.
It looked as if the sides were going to go to the break level but just before the half-time whistle went, St Rynagh’s added a sixth point to edge one in front when Emma Corcoran passed to Mairead Daly who slotted the ball over the bar.
That left St Rynagh’s 0-6 to 0-5 ahead at the break but they had played the opening 30 minutes with the advantage of the wind which meant thet faced an uphill battle in the second-half.
There task was made infinitely harder within two minutes of the restart when Kiera Dooley scored the first of her two goals. A long ball in was batted down close to the St Rynagh’s goal and Dooley reacted quickest to direct the lose ball into the back of the net.
A point apiece followed with Orlagh Kirwin on target for Birr and Mairead Daly replying for St Rynagh’s to leave just two points between the sides.
However in one swing of a hurl the gap became five when, in a carbon copy of her first goal, Kiera Dooley again was on hand to first time strike a lose ball to the back of the St Rynagh’s net.
With the wind at their backs and with their defence right on top of their game, Birr continued to pull away and four points in four minutes from Orlagh Kirwin, three from frees and one from a ’45, had them in a very comfortable position with a 2-10 to 0-7 lead with 42 minutes on the clock.
Ten scorelsess minutes followed as both sides battled for possession around midfield on an increasingly cut up playing surface in St Brendan’s Park.
Ria Harding eventually ended the drought with eight minutes remaining with just Birr’s second point from play. A third and fourth followed shortly after with wing-forwards Eimear Mooney and Ciara Ryan both finding the target before Orlagh Kirwin rounded off the scoring for Birr with a free, her tenth point of the game.
St Rynagh’s had only managed a point in the second half but in the closing minutes their supporters did have the consolation of a goal to cheer when a speculative effort from Helen Dolan held up on the wind and dropped over the hurl of Shauna Carroll into the back of the Birr net.
The score however came too late to impact the result of the game as Birr held on for a deserved win and in doing so reversed the outcome of last year’s final.
Birr: Orlagh Kirwin 0-10 (0-8f, 0-2 ’45); Kiera Dooley 2-0; Eimear Mooney 0-2; Ria Harding 0-1; Ciara Ryan 0-1
St Rynagh’s: Mairead Daly 0-3; Helen Dolan 1-1 (0-1f); Emma Corcoran 0-1; Aishling Maloney 0-1; Roisin Woods 0-1
Birr: 4 (1 1st half)
St Rynagh’s: 2 (2 1st half)
Birr: Shauna Carroll; Jessica Spain, Caroline Soupe, Dawn Whelehan; Roisin Watkins, Emily Quinlan, Deirdre Cashin; Orlagh Kirwin, Sarah Lyons; Ciara Ryan, Katie Dooley, Eimear Mooney; Kiera Dooley, Rebecca Hoctor, Ria Harding. Subs: Eimear Teehan for Kiera Dooley (57mins), Fiona Jennings for Ria Harding (57mins)
St Rynagh’s: Tara Dooley; Sorcha Moran, Aideen Kelly, Hazel Daly; Claire Keeneghan, Megan Mahony, Ciara McLoughlin; Mairead Daly, Emma Corcoran; Aishling Maloney, Helen Dolan, Ciara McCormack; Louise Conroy, Roisin Woods, Louise Flannery.