Report: St Vincent's (Dublin) v Sarsfields (Galway) 26.01.20

(26 Jan 2020)

AIB All Ireland Senior Club Camogie Semi Final
Venue: MacDonagh Park, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary
Referee: Owen Elliot (Antrim)
Sarsfields (Galway) 1-13
St Vincent's (Dublin) 0-08

St Vincent's will rue two missed goal chances in the opening 10 minutes when they reflect on a disappointing but entertaining hour of camogie in Tipperary.
It was a first All Ireland club semi-final for the Dublin Champions since 1998 despite the Leinster Champions having dominated the Dublin championship since 2015, winning 4 county titles in 5 years and contesting 3 Leinster Finals during that period. 
There had been 2 consecutive one point losses to Wexford kingpins Oulart The Ballagh and Kilkenny outfit Thomastown in the 2015 and 2016 Leinster finals before the Marino outfit went the distance in 2019. 

Their opponents Sarsfields have suffered 2 All Ireland final defeats to Slaughtneil since 2017 and from the first whistle their urgency to make amends was evident. 
Sars full forward and player of the match Siobhan McGrath opened the Galway side's account and had tagged on a second score when a gilt-edged chance fell to St Vincent's experienced full forward Aine Fanning in front of goal. Sars goalkeeper Laura Glynn and fullback Laura Ward suffocated Fanning and the play moved back up the field.
A second goal chance materialised in as many minutes for the very lively corner forward Claire Donnelly but Laura Glynn was like lightning off the line to take player and ball and snuff out the chance. 

St Vincent's had to settle instead for two Ali Maguire pointed frees and as the half wore on Sars found more and more pockets of space to exploit. 
Orlaith McGrath tacked on a neat point for Sars and her sister Siobhan hit three further frees before the break to bring her personal tally to 0-5 (0-4f). 
St Vincent's response was a well taken point from Niamh Hetherton and two further frees from Maguire but three wides ensured St Vincent's went in at the break trailing 0-6 to 0-5. 
Opting to change their jerseys to a green set as the two clubs were too similar, a sharper Sars outfit emerged from the dressing-room for the second half.
Siobhan McGrath notched her 6th point before St Vincent's worked a neat point through Claire Donnelly. Direct running from Eimear McCarthy engineered the levelling score for the Dublin champions but it was to be as close as St Vincent's would come. 
A three minute spell saw Sars pillage St Vincent's for 1-1, the goal coming from Rachel Murray. 

Referee Owen Elliot awarded Sars two penalties in the remaining 15 minutes as the St Vincent's defence struggled to cope with the relentless running from the Sars midfield. Siobhan McGrath opted to take her point on each occasion and the lead drifted out to 0-7 points. 
St Vincent's will be glad of the rock solid showing from goalkeeper Claire Clinton in that difficult second half. Clinton displayed immense confidence to ensure no further goals were leaked.

There was time for one late run from Eimear McCarthy and St Vincent's but her goal effort was well blocked down by Laura Glynn. 
The final score line of 1-13 to 0-8 reflected the crucial experience Sars have gained from two afternoons in Croke Park.
The Galway outfit had a better first touch than their Leinster opponents and used the ball much more effectively, rarely failing to make the ball stick in the second half.
St Vincent's by comparison struggled to link the play from defence to attack, the midfield overrun  by Niamh McGrath and shrewd play from Maria Cooney. 
Despite the immense pressure placed on the St Vincent's defence, they must be commended for restricting Sars to just 1 goal. 
Lora Smith was immense in blue and white again, capping off an impeccable season in the trenches for the Leinster Champions while Evelyn Twomey, full of running, more than justified her late inclusion.
Niamh Hetherton's performance will likely be a talking point for the Senior Dublin Camogie Management as she showed flashes of brilliance that would be of use to Dublin in 2020.
Regrets, there will be a few but green shoots abound as a new cohort of St Vincent's talent was introduced in the second half, notably Grace Gilroy, daughter of Pat and Anna O'Sullivan who enjoyed a solid Dublin championship campaign.

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