Donard-the Glen ask serious questions ahead of final
LAST year’s beaten finalists Donard-The Glen laid down a serious marker to the defending champions when they produced an utterly dominant performance in the last group championship game in a damp Knockananna in what was a dress rehearsal for the county final which takes place this Saturday in Dunbur Park.
In a more or less meaningless game it was always going to be interesting to see how this pair of foes would fare against each other given how close they are to the flagship day in Wicklow camogie, and while nothing can really be taken from the result, it’s the performances that are the most telling.
Aside from the last seven minutes of this game this was a devastating shift from the DonardThe Glen side who look to have a considerable amount more camogie played this season than Knockananna have going on first touch and their overall hurling.
Again, it’s important to remember that this was a non-event of a game in terms of the result and there were a few players missing for the home side who have also lost seven players from last year’s panel, but no team goes out to lose any game and Knockananna certainly didn’t on Tuesday evening last but if it doesn’t make it abundantly clear as to what’s potentially coming on Saturday in Dunbur for Tom Byrne’s side then nothing will.
Donard-The Glen’s participation in the Kildare Division 2 camogie league has obviously been of major benefit to their hurling. They topped the league table for a time and lost out to Moorefield in the semi-final for a place in the league decider and they looked very sharp in most positions in this championship clash on the Carlow border.
Contrast that to Knockananna who have played just six league games (many against Intermediate teams) and three championships games, Avondale, Glenealy and Donard-The Glen, and it’s abundantly clear how such a gap has opened up in relation to match sharpness and hurling ability.
Donard-The Glen hit the ground running in Knockananna and opened up a 1-5 to 0-0 lead after 17 minutes, the goal from Kelly O’Neill after four minutes and points from Clair Whelan (3) and two from Aoife Grace as the visitors completely bossed the opening 30 with Macayla Murphy proving to be a saviors for the home side in the goals.
Knockananna opened their account after 25 minutes through full-forward Aine O’Keeffe after a quality ball from Laura Hogan but a Kelly O’Neill pointed free made it 1-6 to 0-1 at the break.
The defending champions had lost Erin Byrne to injury early on which certainly didn’t help their cause, but they were losing out in almost every position on the field which was putting significant pressure on their defence.
The game was over in the early stages of the second half when the excellent Clair Whelan fired home a ripper that was followed up by a major from Emma Hayden which left it 3-5 to 0-1 for the visitors.
Knockananna manager Tom Byrne made some fundamental changes to his line up to try and salvage something or rescue the situation; Laura Hogan went to midfield, Shannagh Goetelen went to centre half back while Aine Byrne retreated from full-forward to full-back with Claire Byrne going to 11 and Sarah Byrne to full-forward.
A point from Alice Mulhall and another goal from Clair Whelan left little room for hope for Knockananna but they did eventually start to hurl a little better and they started creating some chances but could only register four wides, two goal chances.
Donard-The Glen were not relenting in the slightest. They bagged another 2-2 by the 21st minute of the second half, the goals from Daisie Summer Cullen Dunne and Clair Whelan who took a ball from Sheila Whelan on the volley and nearly ripped the nets such was the power behind the shot.
Knockananna can take some comfort with their finish to this game. They did settle and start to exert some control and they scored a late 1-2, two Laura Hogan points and the goal from Loretta Mutton, but the result was never in any doubt from far out.
This wasn’t the final. Knockananna will regroup and focus ahead of the big one. Donard-The Glen, on this performance, have to be favourites, but like all county finals, nothing can be taken for granted until that final whistle soun ds.
Scorers – Donard-The Glen: Clair Whelan 3-4 (2f, 1 45), Kelly O’Neill 1-1 (f), Daisie Summer Cullen Dunne 1-1, Emma Hayden 1-0, Aoife Grace 0-3.
Knockananna: Loretta Mutton 1-0, Laura Hogan 0-2, Aine O’Keeffe 0-1.
Knockananna, who lost out to Donard-The Glen in the championship meeting in Knockananna. Both sides will face each in the county final this Saturday.
The Donard-The Glen senior camogie team ahead of their championship clash with Knockananna.