Having drawn their league encounter and Skerries Harps senior camogie team earning a one-point victory in their group championship game this semi-final clash was always likely to be a tight affair. And this is exactly how it turned out with Ballinteer coming out victorious in a championship encounter against the Harps for the very first time.
In truth, of the three games between the sides this year, this was the one that the Harps girls will feel that they should have prevailed in. Playing into the school end in the first period they had earned a five point lead at the break thanks to a dominant second quarter. Like the earlier encounters the opening exchanges were tense and tight. Four pointed frees were equally shared between the sides as each set of forwards were being well marshalled by their markers.
The game really came to life in the second quarter when a long Aoife Halpin free was finished crisply to the Ballinteer net by Julia Gormley. Almost immediately Ballinteer’s most dangerous player Jane Tully broke inside the home defence and looked certain to goal. But the covering Val Van Veen executed a brave and skilful block to concede a 45. Some excellent points from play by Tara O’Flaherty, Niamh Murphy and Robyn Kehoe extended the Harps lead to five points and they went into the break in a good position.
The second half began in disastrous fashion for the home side when they conceded a sloppy goal in the first minute. This gave great heart to the visiting team and they pointed another free to cut the margin to two. A good point from Eve Kehoe steadied the home team but the middle part of the second half belonged to Ballinteer. Two excellent points from play reduced the margin to the minimum and then Ballinteer struck for a second goal to give them the lead for the first time in the game. They extended that to two points with a long free from Fiona Hayes.
The Skerries girls upped their game again and showed great spirit in the last ten minutes. They scored two good points from Robyn Kehoe and Niamh Murphy but another Tully score for Ballinteer kept the visitors just ahead. Unfortunately for the Harps girls their shooting accuracy deserted them in the last vital minutes and three good point chances went a-begging. A final run by Robyn Kehoe was blocked out for a 45. Heart break was to follow for the home team when Orlaith Durkan’s attempt drifted narrowly to the left and their championship chances disappeared with the referee immediately calling full-time.
A brave effort by the Skerries players went unrewarded and as the only team to finish the group stages with full points they will feel very disappointed not to have progressed to next week’s final.
Scores for Skerries: Julia Gormley 1-0, Orlaith Durkan 0-4(3f), Robyn Kehoe, Niamh Murphy, 0-2(each) Tara o’Flaherty, Eve Kehoe 0-1(each).
Harps Team: Aishling Spillane, Val Van Veen, Yvonne Hannon , Aoife Halpin, Evelyn Garland, Jean Murphy, Ciara Copeland , Catherine Richardson, Eve Kehoe, Tara O’Flaherty, Rachel O’Flaherty, Orlaith Durkan , Robyn Kehoe, Niamh Murphy, Julia Gormley. Subs; Clodagh Bolger for Jean Murphy(inj).