It was once easy to predict the winners of the Offaly Senior Camogie Championship with the trophy invariably ending up back in Shinrone or Drumcullen in the 90s and early 2000s.
However, in recent years the competition has been wide open. St Rynagh’s and Birr have added their names to the senior cup in the last five years and yet again the first round of the HQPhysio.com senior and junior Offaly camogie championship last weekend hasn’t given anything away for the coming season.
There was only two wins in the four games with Kilcormac/Killoughey defeating Kinnitty and current senior champions St. Rynaghs defeating Birr. There was two further excellent displays of camogie with St.Cillians drawing with Lusmagh/Drumcullen and Shinrone tying with Tullamore.
In Carrig on Saturday evening, Lusmagh/Drumcullen started the better of the two teams with Amy Byrne finding the goal early on. However, St.Cillian stayed with Lusmagh/Drumcullen, popping over their points throughout the game. Ann Marie Guinan found the net twice in 10 minutes to put some space between the teams.
Some excellent scores from distance from Aisling Brennan kept St. Cillians in touch. There was excellent displays of camogie with Orla Carey and Leah Gath providing endless entertainment shooting frees but a last minute point from Elizabeth Harding snatched to draw in the final minute for St. Cillians. Lusmagh/Drumcullen will be disappointed as they did hit numerous wides in the closing stages that could’ve pushed them further in front, however it was fitting that this game ended in a draw as the sides could not be separated.
Aisling Brennan was a joy to watch in a field for St. Cillians scoring some wonderful points from 65m and further from play and frees. The turning point in the game came when the game restarted for half time. Lus/Drum scored two quick fire points but St.Cillians replied with a Rachel Brennan goal and four points unanswered to eat into Lusmagh/Drumcullen's lead. This leaves Lusmagh/Drumcullen and St.Cillians ahead of Birr in the table who lost to St.Rynaghs. The top team in the group will be rewarded with a semi-final spot while second and third fall into senior quarter-final spots.
The bottom two teams in each group will play in the junior semi-finals fixed for September 16th. St.Rynaghs will face St.Sinchills in their next round while Birr and St.Cillians will go head to head in group one. Lusmagh/Drumcullen will enjoy a bye round. Banagher was the grounds for the Birr and St.Rynaghs game were the county champions opened their campaign with four points to spare.
In group two, last year’s junior finalists Kilcormac/Killoughey registered a one-point win in Kinnitty on Saturday evening. These sides met late last year with Kinnitty winning by six. The double K’s have some very talented players coming up through the underage ranks in particular, Jane Lowry, who had her first start at senior level at the weekend. Kinnitty were struck with a blow before the game as keeper Eleanor Clendennen was unable to play the game.
A late Debbie Flynn goal ensured a KK win leaving them sitting top of their group. Shinrone and Tullamore drew in Shinrone on Sunday evening in a very competitive game.
At this stage in the competition it is hard to call which team is going to go all the way. St. Rynaghs are favourites to retain their crown, however, there is nothing between any of the teams aiming to knock them from their throne. The next round of the competition takes place on August 12 as the Offaly seniors and juniors continue their campaigns for the rest of July.
Full time scores
St.Cillians 1-16 Lusmagh/Drumcullen 3-10 (Draw)
Shinrone 2-13 Tullamore 1-16 (Draw)
Kilcormac/Killoughey 2-12 Kinnitty 2-11
Birr 2-12 St. Rynaghs 1-19
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