THE BRIGHT potential for Kilrush camogie was further illustrated in St. Patrick’s Park on Saturday when their Under-16s produced a clearcut victory over Rathnure in the county Premier championship final.
And this adds to their Premier Minor glory over Glynn-Barntown, with several players common to both triumphs, while Kilrush also challenged in the top-tier Under-14 final (runners-up to St. Ibar’s/Shelmalier).
With Kilrush weighing in with Clonee in ladies’ football too, it was a particularly uplifting 2023 for their connections, as they also contested all the top football finals, prevailing against Adamstown in Under-18, while being runners-up to Baile Dubh Tíre in both the Under-16 and Under-14 showpieces.
Kilrush staked a strong claim to their latest prized item of camogie silverware after only 50 seconds when Ríona Byrne determinedly netted at the town end after a free from Sarah Kirwan sparked the opportunity. Kirwan at centre-back and joint-captain Laura Bailey in midfield were a couple of outstanding figures in helping to thwart Rathnure’s danger while keeping Kilrush well supplied in attack.
Indeed, after the sides shared four points between the third and seventh minutes, wind-assisted Kilrush dug their heels in when a delivery from Bailey sparked trouble in the opposition danger-zone, where Ríona Byrne toed the ball to Kate Tomkins to sink a 2 -2 to 0-2 lead after eleven minutes.
While Aoife Somers responded with a pointed free, Rathnure were further rocked in the 14th minute when Tomkins’ delivery from a ’45 crept in under the crossbar and beyond tenacious ‘keeper Ellie O’Connell for a 3-2 to 0-3 gap, after lively corner-forward Makayla Tobin-Cosgrave had generated the initial threat.
It was fairly even for the remainder of the half, with Rathnure corner-forward Róisín Morrissey unfortunate to crash a shot off the country-end crossbar, while Tobin-Cosgrave went close at the other end during the closing stages before Kilrush went in with a 3-4 to 0-5 lead.
Aoife Somers was denied from a free by alert Kilrush netminder Marita McCrea on the resume.
But the eventual champions generally made the most of their goaling chances, and, indeed, they extended clear by 4-4 to 0-3 in the 36th minute when Megan Hayes finished at the far post after Tobin-Cosgrave had emerged from a ruck close to goal, only to be blocked just as Kate Tomkins was before Hayes forced the ball home.
Kilrush twice went close again – Tomkins forcing a save and Tobin-Cosgrave a fruitless ’45 – before strengthening their grip by 4-7 to 0-6 after 54 minutes courtesy of Hayes, Tomkins (a terrific solo score) and Tobin-Cosgrave.
Rathnure tried hard, but met an opposition that wasn’t prepared to yield, although Aoife Somers did twice force saves late on, including forcing a ’45 from which she pegged the gap back to twelve points at the finish.
Kilrush: Marita McCrea (joint-capt.); Niamh Ryan, Róisín O’Rourke, Méabh Mimnagh; Ciara Kenny, Sarah Kirwan (0-1 free), Orla Mac Sweeney; Orla O’Rourke (0-1), Laura Bailey (joint-capt.); Megan Hayes (1-1), Éabha Guinan, Ava Brennan; Ríona Byrne (1-0), Kate Tomkins (2-2, 1-0 ’45, 0-1 free), Makayla Tobin-Cosgrave (0-2). Subs. – Kate Doran for Mimnagh (60+1), Grace Tobin for Kenny (60+1), also Erin Tobin, Aoibheann Buttle, Aoibhinn Ryan, Rachael Dee, Lara Murphy.
Rathnure: Ellie O’Connell; Ella Barron (joint-capt.), Róisín Murphy, Chloe Somers; Róisín Kehoe, Ciara Somers, Tara Doyle-Maher; Jane Kenny, Aoife Somers (0-4, 2 ’45s, 2 frees); Orla Doyle-Maher, Jessica Mooney (0-1), Caoimhe Doran; Róisín Morrissey, Kayla Reddy (joint-capt., 0-1), Lara Morrissey (0-1). Subs. – Lauren Doyle for R. Morrissey (38), Ava Walsh for Chloe Somers (51), Emily O’Connor for Kehoe (51), Aoibhinn Doran for O. Doyle-Maher (53), Aoibhe Doyle for T. Doyle-Maher (54), also Grace Fallon, Ruby Kirwan.
Referee: Brendan Martin (Ballyhogue).