Hard-working Newcastlewest under 16s are County Camogie A champions!

The Newcastle West team who defeated Monaleen in the Limerick Under 16 A Camogie Championship Final.
Photo by E. Doody

All in the club congratulate the under 16s who are deserving county A champions following their emphatic win over a formidable Monaleen team at the Bog Garden, Rathkeale on Thursday evening last.
From the very start of the game when speedy wing forward Robyn Lyons set off on a mazy solo run that brought her to within scoring distance of the Monaleen goals (but didn’t result in a score with finish not matching approach work) to the time added on point by the outstanding Ciara McAuliffe, the team played the best camogie of their careers so far complementing a massive work rate with skill, teamwork, cohesion, composure, accuracy in passing, score taking, toughness, honesty of effort, brilliant hooking, tackling, contesting of the ‘dirty’ ball etc etc. It was an all-for-one, one-for-all team effort with players excelling individually and getting 100% from each other. It was a performance from the coaching manual close to perfection (though finishing in general would only get a C) varied, comprehensive, holistic (like Kilkenny in their prime, Messi’s Barcelona at their mesmeric best, the 5-in-a row Dubs) and the win was more momentous in that Monaleen, physically strong, skilful, ferociously competitive, resilient, didn’t take a backward step in the entire game and had closed the gap to 0-5 at 57 minutes having been 0-8 behind at 56.
From excellent referee Michael Woulfe’s throw-in at 5.45pm, our under 16s hit the ground running, posting 0-3 from Lily Duggan (at 6) and two from Rebecca Fitzpatrick (at 6 and 9). The scorekeeper should have been busier putting up the numbers for us and we could/should have been further ahead, a solid Monaleen goalie saved well and points that were ‘on’ were not taken. That was the only blip in our early 12 minutes of dominance.
At 12 minutes Monaleen found form and scored 0-2. Our goalie Leah Quinlan was busy in this period and gets an A1 rating for saves, clearances, super pucks-out (60 yards). A further 0-2 to us (Ciara McAuliffe at 16 and Róisín Corbett from a 45 at 16) was the best answer possible to the five minutes of pressure applied by Monaleen and following that 0-2 and just before the water break. Caoimhe Smith pulled first time for a goal (her grandfather Jack Twomey was regarded as the best ground hurler in Killoughteen in his heyday and Caoimhe is also related to 1930s All Ireland winning senior medallist with Mick Mackey’s Limerick, Danny Flanagan, the pride of Killoughteen, briseann an dúchas etc Caoimhe!).
Post the water break the scores dried up (excuse the pun) with the scorekeeper troubled a mere three times, 0-1 for us from a free at 29, 0-2 to Monaleen at 30/35. But though the scores were slow to come the general exchanges were a delight to watch as the two best teams in this year’s premier grade went to the pain place in their efforts. Not surprising there were a few injuries resulting in the half lasting 36/37 minutes. When reiteoir Micheál sounded the halftime whistle we were 1-6 to 0-4 ahead, a mere 0-5 separating the teams who were glad of a chance to draw breath and hydrate.
There was no complacency by our girls, a puck of a ball in it and Monaleen believing they could ‘do it’. A further 0-2 immediately post half time (Róisín from a free at 38, Rebecca from play at 34, 42) extended our lead to 0-7. Two Monaleen points pared it back to 0-5 again at 41. Our team then upped the ante with a succession of points, 4, (2 from frees, Róisín 46, Lily 53), two from play (Rebecca at 42, 65) to go 0-9 ahead at 56 minutes. Done and dusted the magpie supporters thought and ready to break open the champagne. However, this Monaleen team doesn’t do capitulation, it’s not in their DNA and with admirable stubbornness, resilience, skill, determination they worked a good goal at 57 minutes, that threw them a life-line and brought them back into the game. Those who were in Croke Park in 1994 (Mark Sheehan and Jerry Hennessy etc) were wondering if Monaleen could do an ‘Offaly’ and break their hearts again. The champagne was left in the ice bucket. Fortunately for Newcastlewest it was not deja vu. Speedster Robyn of the prodigious work rate, finally found the target and got the 0-1 she deserved at 60 minutes and at 66 minutes Ciara embellished a super display with the final score of a pulsating tough second half.. The champagne was uncorked. Gerry and Martin (Robyn’s granddad) celebrated as did players, mentors and supporters. A brilliant game, a brilliant advertisement for camogie, a brilliant win for our under 16s and for the club.
It was a team display par excellence that won the day, individuals excelling and gelling in a fantastic team effort that saw effort sustained, skills executed (catching, first touch, hooking, passing, striking, etc) scores well taken (14 points is exceptional for under 16s). All the panel of 20 were used (except Lauren Kelly and Clodagh O’Keeffe, both on the injured list) and all contributed majorly. Overall a brilliant team effort, well done under16s!
A big well done to the dedicated management team: Thomas Duggan, manager; Mike Murphy and James McCarthy, selectors/coaches; Margaret Corbett and Ciara Kelly, first aid; Deirdre Baynham, Sharon Lyons, Sarah Duggan, Covid supervisors to parents who were hugely supportive and to the supporters who attended the protocols allowed. All played a huge part in the win. ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ and the team trained well and regularly, irrespective of bad weather etc. It’s what successful teams must do and well done to all involved for biting that bullet.
Captain and full back Isobel Brudair (granddaughter of legendary Dromcollogher and Limerick hurling full back fadó fadó, Donie Broderick RIP, briseann an dúchas) accepted the cup and was eloquent with a capital E in her cúpla focal, thanking all who were involved with and supported the team and called for three cheers for Monaleen, who were super competitors as they battled to the final whistle. These words were given generously, all acknowledging the huge effort by the Castletroy team. Then it was time for the team to relax, reflect, acknowledge with fists and elbows the great win, luxuriate for a good while in the joy of success, take the very important photos and eventually head back to our Desmond town to do the usual parade of our lovely metropolis, alerting the citizens to the fabulous win. Home then, because it was only Thursday and off to bed, because there was school next day.
Note: Undoubtedly all the players involved in the win benefitted from playing senior, intermediate and minor camogie during the season. Ellie Woulfe lined out with the seniors, half a dozen or so played intermediate, the majority played minor. The experience of playing at a higher level toughened them, speeded up the skill, brought them out of their comfort zones.
Panel: Leah Quinlan; Keelin O’Brien, Isobel Brudair (Captain), Antonia Madigan; Molly Murphy, Lucy O’Brien, Róisín Corbett (0-3); Tara McGowan, Ellie Woulfe; Lily Duggan (0-3), Rebecca Fitzpatrick (0-5), Robyn Lyons (0-1); Ciara McAuliffe (0-2), Lauren Ambrose, Caoimhe Smith (1-0),
Subs: Ava Baynham, Maria Cagney, Rebecca Fitzgibbon, Kate Foley, Lauren Kelly injured, Clodagh O’Keeffe injured.
Thirteen of the panel are underage in 2021. The remaining eight have intermediate (maybe senior) camogie to look forward to and be challenged by while minor awaits all. We look forward to watching all as they put their best foot forward for the club, its onwards and upwards!
Note: The Bog Garden was in mint condition with the spacious new stand assuring supporters that they would not be drenched if the rain came down. Fortunately, it didn’t; we congratulate the Rathkeale GAA club on their excellent presentation of the final.