Sarsfields just come up short in historic bid for glory

Sarsfields' Clodagh McGrath is in hot pursuit of Slaughtneil's Sinead Mellon during Sunday's All-Ireland Club senior camogie final at Croke Park. Photo: Tommy Grealy/Inpho.

Slaughtneil 1-10

Sarsfields 0-11

DISAPPOINMENT, agony and frustration. Words regularly related with Galway teams in Croke Park All-Ireland finals didn’t escape Sarsfields’ senior camogie players last Sunday as Derry’s Slaughtneil made history.

Mary Kelly’s goal six minutes into the second half gave the Ulster champions a major lift before they finished strongly with Louise Doughan and Eilis Ni Chaiside getting the winning points in the final minutes.

One can’t take away from Slaughtneil’s achievement and they were deserving winners. But Sarsfields will have grievances, especially with the first half officiating. However, they also had chances to take a major hold on proceedings and struggled with Slaughtneil’s running game.

The signs were ominous as Slaughtneil got to the pace of the game quicker and Shannon Graham rewarded them with a point. But as Rachel Murphy was about to take the resulting puck out, referee Ray Kelly judged her to have fouled and awarded Slaughtneil a 45 metre free.

Dougan converted before a 45 the other end with Sarsfields’ first meaningful attack resulted in Niamh McGrath finding the target before she levelled with another placed ball on eight minutes.

This would be the nature of the opening period and, admittedly, Sarsfields did benefit on a couple of occasions with Kelly’s strict adherence to the rule book. Subsequently, a Murphy delivery was picked up by Orlaith McGrath who made a run in from the left before nailing a sweet strike on her right.

Sarsfields were ahead 0-3 to 0-2 but that advantage lasted just two minutes as Dougan was unerring with long distance frees. After Orlaith McGrath won a free, Niamh McGrath converted before Dougan again ensured parity on 18 minutes.

Sarsfields lost their shape in the 20th minute when Mary Kelly’s strike from the left rattled the post.  The danger wasn’t averted as Ni Chaiside’s quick rebound forced a superb Yvonne Lyons block.  The ensuing melee saw Lyons take the full brunt of the left post.  Thankfully, the Sarsfields keeper was able to continue after being checked for potential concussion.

A Dougan free on 24 minutes put Slaughtneil 0-5 to 0-4 ahead but Sarsfields hit back with Sarah Spellman pointing before another Orlaith McGrath run from the right made it 0-6 to 0-5.

Full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune.