St. Cillian’s Camogie Club’s All-Ireland victory at Feile na nGael in Galway

St. Cillian’s Camogie club became the first Offaly team  to win a division 2 Feile na nGael All-Ireland Camogie championship in Pearse Stadium , Galway on Sunday last . . This was a phenomenal performance from this young , skilful  and hard working team , a team which possesses a fantastic will to win and a never say die attitude . All  but two of this young team are  eligible to play under 14 next year . St. Cillian’s were representing Offaly in this competition for the second year in a row .

Mountbellew-Moylough were St. Cillian’s host club on this occasion . The conditions in east Galway were atrocious for their matches on Friday and Saturday . Cillian’s first match on Friday was against their hosts club . Played in a downpour and against a strong wind , Cillian’s found it difficult to adjust to the conditions and only held a slender lead at the end of the first half . Within  five minutes of the second half all that had changed , thanks to a purple patch which saw Sarah Harding knock in a couple of goals . The match ended 7-6 to 0-0 in favour of Cillian’s .

With no let up in the dreadful weather , Cillian’s travelled to Cappataggle to play two matches .  Water lodged on the surface area throughout the entire pitch which made camogie difficult . Cillian’s played confidently from the beginning and it was no surprise that they came away with a comfortable win : 5-2 to 0-0  . In their final match Cillian’s were up against a much bigger and a more physical Down team . The referee , who was down to officiate at all four group matches refused to referee this match due to the” unseemly behaviour” of the some Down supporters and players . Cillian’s agreed to play the match under a substitute referee . The doggedness , attitude and work rate of  the 15 St. Cillian’s players saw them come away with a well deserved narrow victory : 1-2 to 0-1 . Sarah Harding scoring the goal and Cailin Fitzgerald (Capt) , the 2 points.

It was on to Kilkiniron for the division 2 semi-final with Croughwell  at 5.30 on Saturday evening , 3rd match of the day for both teams . With the pitch in excellent shape , it was hoped that the match could be played in clear conditions and thankfully for an hour or so that was the case . This was an enthralling match played by two excellent teams  . Craughwell got the start every team wishes for and had Cillian’s under extreme pressure for the first 10 mins in which they scored 2-1 without reply . The fighting spirit of St. Cillian’s came to the fore for the remainder of the half in which they managed to claw their way back to equal the score by half-time. At the end of the second 20 mins . the teams were still level :2-4 to 3-1 . Extra time , of 5 mins each half was played but with only one point scored by each team the tie was still deadlocked . This lead to sudden death – the first team to score would be victorious . Chloe Costello made sure that would be St. Cillian’s with the winning score  – a goal . Only 5 years in existence , St. Cillian’s had reached their first Feile final .

Pearse Stadium , was the venue for the 12 noon division 2 final against Sixmilebridge . Played in ideal conditions and on an excellent surface , this match was a classic encounter . St. Cillian’s were not overawed by their much bigger  opponents  and were soon into their stride competing with great enthusiasm and no little skill with Sixmilebridge . “Man” of the match Sarah Harding scored a wonder gaol from  what seemed an impossible angle , something she did many times throughout the weekend  , a score which brought Cillian’s a 4 point lead into the break . This lead was wiped out after 10 mins of the second half  and things looked ominous for Cillian’s when Sixmilebridge pointed to go into the lead.  Then the “Sarah Harding” factor came into play – another wonder goal from an even more acute angle but at the opposite side of the field . A point by another class player , Aisling Brennan , sealed the win with a point in the dying minutes. Victory for St. Cillian’s  4-3 to 3-3 – a win which was proceeded by unbridled joy , hugging , back slapping and celebrating   by  the huge support from the Carrig,Riverstown , Killeen and Ballingarry .   Captain of St. Cillian’s , Cailin Fitzgerald , accepted the plaque  , on behalf of the 24 St. Cillian’s players . E.Cashen , L.Hoctor , S. Killeen , E. Harding , S.Ryan, A.Brennan , M.King , N. Killeen , A.Freeman , R. Dolan , C.Fitzgerald , O. Plunkett , S. Harding , C.Costello  , D.Hanamy , M. Maher , N.Dolan , Isobel Cavanagh , K.Corrigan , E. Cleary , B.Ryan , Aisling Larkin , E.Kelly.

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