Tara beat Ulster Champions to earn a place in the All-Ireland Semi
Author: Susi Gill
Venue: Cushendall, Antrim
Date: 30th October
Tara Camogie Club London are through to the All Ireland Junior Club Semi final making it third time lucky having beaten Ruairi Og of Cushendall Antrim 2-09 v 0-11.
A woman of the match performance was put in by each and every Tara player, so much so that no one could be singled out for their efforts
Ruairi Og were the quicker off the mark however with a quick shot over the bar from Orla O'Hara. The Tara backline were convinced the shot was wide only to be overruled by the umpires which served only to get the blue and whites backs rearing to make amends!
Leading the Tara charge from the front was Captain Denise Gilligan (Craughwell - Galway) who notched up 2-06 (3frees) for the blue and white. The first of two goals was scored following a Galway combination started from a puck out from goalkeeper Niamh Dolan (Craughwell - Galway). Yvonne Donnelly (Kilimor - Galway) moved the ball swiftly on in the centre of the park with a long ground strike in to the path of Gilligan who let it fly passed Ciara Campbell in the Ruairi Og goal.
Settled and hungry for more scores Tara's midfield duo of Meabh Brennan (Cork) and Rosie Cusack (Australia) battled against Ruairi Ogs Coleen Patterson and Naomi McCurry in the middle of the field for every puck out. Any loose ball was cleared by Tara's dependable centre back Bid Grennan (Kilkenny) who had a phenomenal game clearing left right and centre all over the pitch.
Grennan needed to be on her game as Ruairi Ogs forwards of Laura McMullan and Alex McLoughlin put Tara's defence under severe pressure lifting the sliotar and soloing for goal at every opportunity.
Tara's backline stood firm however and Catherine Higgins (Derry) worked her socks of putting her head where most players wouldn't put their hurl for the Tara cause earning herself a head injury for her efforts, but stopped Ruairi Ogs forwards going clean on goal. The result being Ruairi Og only scored one point from play in the first half and went in to the dressing room at half time down 1-06 to 0-5.
Tara fielded the second half having made one change with Niamh Keating (Limerick) on for corner back Sheila Fernandes (Galway). With a more determined look in their eyes Ruairi Og set about to quickly close the deficit scoring two points from frees in quick succession both by Orla O'Hara.
Tara's backs kept their heads up with the next Ruairi Og strike blocked down by Susi Gill (London). It was to be her last action of the match following a foot injury and a like for like replacement was made in Joni Traynor (Antrim). It went on to be a second half of superb block downs none more so than by Tara's Helen Murphy (Kilkenny) who blocked 3 shots in quick succession in the middle of the park to prevent a Ruairi Og strike in to the waiting forwards.
To sure up defence in the closing stages Angela Kenneally (Kilkenny) was pulled back in to the half back line and in partnership with Karen Fitzpatrick made several clearances to feed forwards Joanne Hamilton (Antrim) and Donna Gallery (Clare) up the field
It was a nerve biting finish for the London outfit. Ruairi Og piled on the pressure and had a shot on goal cleared with superb defensive play by full back Ann Gleeson (Tipperary) and goalkeeper Niamh Dolan (Galway). Had the sliotar crossed the line it would have been a tighter race towards the end line.
With tiring legs Tara's had a superb panel of substitutes to choose from and Grace Hamilton (Antrim) came on for Donna Gallery (Clare) and swiftly switched play to the right wing only for a Ruairi Og challenge on sister Joanne to be deemed a free in Tara's favour. Denise Gilligan (Galway) expertly converted and Tara's finished the game out 4 points to the good to jubilant celebrations from the blue and white.
Tara's having made it third time lucky are now through to the semi final against the Leinster Champions, which are yet to be decided.
Tara: Niamh Dolan, Susi Gill, Ann Gleeson, Sheila Fernandes, Catherine Higgins, Bid Grennan, Karen Fitzpatrick, Rosie Cusack, Meabh Brennan, Helen Murphy, Joanne Hamilton, Yvonne Donnelly, Angela Kenneally, Denise Gilligan, Donna Gallery. Subs: Niamh Keating, Joni Traynor, Dearbhail O'Neill, Rachel Hawkins, Tina Enright, Janine O'Neill, Janine O'Gorman.Lyndsey Shanks and Jennifer Tomb.
Ruairi Og:Ciara Campbell, Seana Cosgrove, Lisa McAuley, Shauna Healy, Sorcha Cosgrove, Bronagh Heggarty, Coleen Patterson, Naomi McCurry, Brianna McDonnell, Orla O'Hara, Maureen McAlister, Tessa McDonnell, Alex McLoughlin, Helena McAlister, Laura McMullan Subs: Eimear O Hara, Noleen Cosgrove, Nuala McQuillan, Terri McNaughton