Brilliant Birr breeze to U16 A camogie shield title

Ann Marie Guinan

Reporter:

Ann Marie Guinan

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news@offalyexpress.ie

Offaly Camogie A Shield Final

Birr 2-16 St. Cillian's 2-5

Birr were crowned U16 O'Meara Sliotars A shield final champions having fought off a feisty first half from St. Cillian's. It was the sheer skill and accuracy of Birr which edged them in front from the 15th minute. Last year's A champions showed cleverness beyond their years to pick out each other in particular when under pressure from St. Cillian's backs. 

Faye Mulrooney opened the scoring account for Birr as the centre forward pointed with ease from 40 yards out. Birr brought fast intensity to the game as Kate O'Meara picked out Samara Hanlon who pointed to edge Birr two in front.

Roisin Kinsella ran rampant on the wing and the number 15 set up the first goal of the game finding Faye Mulrooney who managed a one-handed strike towards the goals which was dribbling over the line and thanks to the help of Samara Hanlon, Birr scored their first goal of the game.

St.Cillian's eventually came good in the first half when Aoife O'Donavan found her sister Caoimhe to point the ball over the bar in a bid to cut into Birr's lead. Things got even better in the 12th minute, when Sarah O'Rourke's free from outside the 45 appeared to fly all the way to the net, much to the disappointment of Birr netminder Caoimhe Kinsella.

This goal would only serve as motivation for Birr as Ava Carey won a puckout and pointed to widen the gap once again between the sides. This was followed up with a Faye Mulrooney goal who spotted a gap in the defence and in the goals when her shot outside the 21 went all the way and rattled the net.

The game was nip and tuck for the final ten of the first half when Aine Kennedy snatched back a goal for St.Cillians when her rasper of a shot found the net. However, this flurry of scores from St. Cillian's would be the most threatening last year's U 16 B champions would be in the game.

The Birr side took some time to deal with the St.Cillian's challenge and it was only in the last quarter of the first half that they put significant distance between themselves and their opponents. Mulrooney added another point from a placed ball as Denise Connor would follow up with a point of her own at centre back.

Connor saw the space straight up the middle of the pitch and glided through to point from 40 yards out. The score of the game came from Roisin Kinsella who was operating at wing forward rang along the sideline to break past two St. Cillian's defenders and point from a very acute angle.

Birr were in the driving seat now as Mulrooney added two further points from play, one of these a pass from Hannah Riley where Mulrooney was lightning quick to touch the ball into her hand and pop the ball over the bar to make it 2-8 to 2-1 at the half time break. 

Birr had the wind in the second half as Aoibhe Carey once again was one of the quick firers for Birr in the opening minutes of the second half. Birr continued this trend throughout the match using quick transfers and quick movement to unlock their neighbours defence.

Sarah Freeman was switched onto the frees for St.Cillians and immediately made an impact converting their first free of the second half. St.Cillians worked tirelessly and Roisin Pinches looked dangerous as ever on the edge of the small square, Caoimhe Kinsella did very well to prevent the number 14 scoring on a number of occasions.

Freeman converted her second free of the day moments later to narrow the gap back to six points but Birr had enough scored in the first half to prevent a St.Cillians comeback. St.Cillian's eventually weathered the storm and started to gain their own momentum late in the second half The ever influential Mulrooney added a further two points to her personal tally as Birr were in the final stretch.

Spectators were treated to a helter-skelter second half as Caoimhe O'Donovan broke through the Birr defence and her shot was blasted the crossbar and broke away. Lightning struck twice as moments later Aoibhe Carey also hit the crossbar on the opposite end of the field and St.Cillians cleared their lines to eventually find Roisin Pinches who popped the ball over the bar. 

Having conceded two goals early on, Caoimhe Rice picked up herself up and pulled herself back together to stop plenty of Birr goal chances which forced Birr to opt for their points in the second half. There was a great battle between Aoibhe Kennedy and Roisin Pinches at full back and full forward.

Caoimhe Kinsella's puckout travelled a huge distance to land in the path of Faye Mulrooney who mis-hit her shot and Caoimhe Rice gathered the ball to clear. Caoimhe O'Donavan covered every blade of grass for St. Cillian's as the wing forward worked tirelessly to get her side back into the game and was rewarded with a point in a very tight angle.

Birr continued to dominate however with Hannah Riley pointing a '45 and then a point from play. There was high drama in the closing minutes as Roisin Pinches worked hard to try score a goal however she was pulled down in the small square and a penalty was awarded. This penalty was saved however and this would be the last play of the game as Birr were crowned U 16 A shield winners. 

TEAMS

Birr: Caoimhe Kinsella, Grace Kennedy, Aoibhe Kennedy, Hannah Finnane, Alex Kinahan, Denise Connor, Ruth Lyons, Hannah Riley, Aine Jennings J.C, Claire Kennedy, Faye Mulrooney,  Aoibhe Carey,  Samara Hanlon, Kate O Meara J.C, Roisin Kinsella.

St.Cillian's: Caoimhe Rice, Moya Larkin, Katie Moran, Kacey Larkin, Sinead Fallon, Cara Hoare, Leah Egan, Sarah O Rourke, Aoife O Donovan, Caoimhe O’Donovan, Sarah Freeman, Aine Kennedy, Aoibhinn Rice, Roisin Pinches, Molly Hogan


Scorers:

Birr: Samara Hanlon 1-1, Roisin Kinsella 0-2 , Claire Kennedy 0-1, Faye Mulrooney, 1-7, Hannah Riley 0-2 Denise Connor 0-1 Ava Carey 0-2

St.Cillians: Sarah O Rourke 1-0, Caoimhe O’Donovan 0-2, Sarah Freeman 0-2, Roisin Pinches 0-1, Aine Kennedy 1-0. 


Player of the match: Faye Mulrooney. Mulrooney pulled off some picturesque stuff throughout the game. Roisin Kinsella, Ava Carey and Denise Connor were also in contention for this award along with St. Cillian's Caoimhe O'Donavan and Ciara Hoare.