CAMOGIE | Battling Louth undone by Wicklow’s second-half showing

Leinster Junior Championship semi-final | Louth 2–3 Wicklow 1–18

The Louth camogie team that played Wicklow in Dunleer on Saturday evening

Lannleire’s Pairc Ui Mhuiri was the venue for Saturday evening’s clash between Louth’s senior camogie team and Wicklow in the semi-final of the Leinster Junior championship.

Both teams benefited from the wonderful condition of the pitch and credit goes to the Lannleire grounds team for a well prepared and stewarded event.

Dark clouds had been threatening all evening, but the forecast rain and winds stayed away for the first half though made their presence felt bitterly in the second.

Louth, with the wind behind them, had their first chance to score after just 24 seconds but it was Wicklow who were first on the scoreboard with a point after three minutes.

Aoife Gregory responded a minute later with a superb point and three minutes later the green flag was raised for Louth with a goal by Denise Moynagh from a seemingly impossible angle.

Wicklow’s Laura Manley kept them in touch with two unanswered points but Louth’s Caoimhe Matthews, who had been threatening with a few lightning runs, scored an incredible goal in the 14th minute to take Louth three points clear.

Two more points by Siobhan Dawdry and Aoife Gregory, a free, with only one in response saw Louth storm four points clear after just 17 minutes.

There was some frantic reorganisation on the Wicklow sideline as they tried to respond to Louth’s speed and passion, resulting in four unanswered points to leave the teams all square, 2–3 to 0–9 at the break.

Both teams took the opportunity to bring on fresh players for at the interval with Louth’s Courtney Dowling coming on for Rachael Hamilton and Clodagh Fennell replacing Rita Mullen.

The second half saw a resurgence from Wicklow whose backroom team had done their homework well and marked all of Louth’s key players from the throw in.

The wind that was Louth’s friend in the first half, turned into a stiff breeze in the second half and the promised rain arrived making the surface and sliotar very slippery for both sides.

Wicklow quickly capitalised on the favourable conditions by scoring the first point after two minutes followed by another a minute later.

Louth responded with two wides, but Wicklow had the firepower of their number eight, Laura Manley, whose long distance free taking abilities was to be part of Louth’s downfall in the second half.

The Wee County also lost Lorraine Young to injury seven minutes into the second half and she was replaced by Grainne Murray.

The strong headwind hampered Louth’s chances of any long poc outs, meaning that the Reds defence and midfield was put under tremendous pressure by Wicklow.

Louth’s undoing came about in a four minute period in the middle of the second half which saw Wicklow score 1–3 with Louth responding with two wides.

In spite of worsening conditions and a mounting deficit, Louth can be proud of an incredible performance from joint captains Eleanor Smyth of St Anne’s and Jane McKeon of Mattock Rangers who battled for every ball.

Louth had a number of chances in the second half which saw goalline clearances by Wicklow and the ball hitting the bar but in the end they were unable to add to their first half tally.

Wicklow ended up the deserved victors but Louth camogie can walk away proud from this fixture, having started this match with the skill, speed and passion of teams who play in senior divisions.

They were well prepared and knocked the wind out of Wicklow’s sails from the throw in and played a very competitive first half.

This is a young team and in addition to this, the incredible work that is being done at juvenile level, especially at U14 and U16, which will start feeding into the senior team in a few years, the future is bright for Louth camogie.

LOUTH CAMOGIE: Leanne Sharkey (Cliodhna Duffy 50), Rachael Hamilton (Courtney Dowling 30), Sarah Mulroy, Áine McKeon, Niamh Murray, Niamh McKeon, Lorraine Young (Grainne Murray 37), Eleanor Smyth, Aoife Gregory (0–2), Ashling Matthews, Siobhán Dawdry (0–1), Jane McKeon, Caoimhe Matthews (1–0), Denise Moynagh (1–0), Rita Mullen (Clodagh Fennell 30). Subs not used: Joanne McCloskey, Gráinne Murray, Courtney Dowling, Nicole Vultur, Madison Bullen; Management team: Joe Kennedy, Stephen Hackett, Donal Lynch; Physio: Vincent Hynes.

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