Tara Win Senior League Final 2014 ~ Tara 1-6 v 1-4 Croydon AET
Author: Emer Kelly
Date: Sunday 20th July 2014
Tara Camogie Club London won the Senior League title for the sixth year in a row on Sunday beating Croydon on a final score of 1-6 to 1-4 on a very hot day in Greenford. After a very intense 80 minutes of camogie in searing heat, the Tara girls emerged victorious over their south London rivals in what was one of the most closely contested senior games in the county in the last few years.
It was Croydon who got off to the better start, scoring a fantastic point in the first 5 minutes courtesy of their wing back. The Tara girls however retaliated with a point of their own 5 minutes later by wing forward Joanne Hamilton, who worked extremely well with Niamh Dolan on the right hand side of the Tara attack. With some solid defending by both sides, scores were hard to come by and each ball was fought for with great determination by both teams.
A rare mistake in the Tara back line proved costly in the 17th minute when Croydon found the back of the net giving them a three point advantage. Caroline Kelly showed her leadership 5 minutes later scoring a point from centre back. With 2 points between the sides the Tara girls knew they would have to dig deep to get a score before half time. Joni Traynor stepped up to the mark from wing back to slot over a fantastic point from 50 yards out just before the half time whistle.
The heat didn't stop either team from battling with all they had in the second half, and the west London girls scored a point from their captain Caroline Kelly within 3 minutes of the second half making the teams level for the first time in the game. Croydon's Elaine Dunphy pushed some great balls forward into the Croydon forwards, but there was some excellent displays of defending in the Tara full back line from Dearbhail O'Rourke and Sheila Fernandes which denied the south Londoners a chance to regain their lead. In the 15th minute of the second half the Tara girls conceded a free inside their own half which Croydon stuck over effortlessly, giving them a one point advantage again. 5 minutes later the sides were level again when dynamite centre forward Fiona Morrissey got that crucial point she was threatening the Croydon backs with all day. This put the teams level going into the last ten minutes and the tension between the two teams was palpable. Denise Gilligan played excellent in the goal for Taras denying Croydon numerous goals throughout the game. However, another free conceded by Taras in the 55th minute of the Game gave Croydon a one point advantage yet again. With less than one minute left on the clock, the Tara girls showed exactly why they were reigning league champions. Noreen O'Keefe, who had been well marked all day and denied scoring opportunities, stepped up to the mark with 2 minutes to go. Caroline Kelly, who had been Taras star player all day, delivered an inch perfect pass to O'Keefe who rounded her Croydon defender to stick the ball over the bar in what was the last puck of the game.
Both teams were eager to play on and decide who would walk away with the league title on the day ,and so both teams and the referee agreed to play extra time to decide the Senior League Champions 2014.
The first 10 minutes of extra time was scoreless again with some great defending from both sides. Possession was crucial and each team dug deep to push the ball into their respective forwards. However, the sheer determination of the defenders made scores impossible to get. With the teams lining back out for the final 10 minute half, both teams were fired up and it would be hard to find a more passionate display from two teams anywhere in the county this year. It was the Croydon girls who started the better and got a point in the 15th minute of extra time when Denise Gilligan blocked down a Croydon shot on goal and sent it out for a 65. Elaine Dunphy knocked it over with ease to give them a one point lead which was met by rapturous cheers from the Croydon supporters. Elaine Dunphy and Avril Glynn worked tirelessly for Croydon throughout.
The west London girls however really dug deep in the last few minutes, with Caroline Kelly, Anna Nyhan and Sarah Quinn all showing great fitness and determination. But with two minutes to go Fiona Morrissey caught an impossible ball to run through the Croydon defence and rattled the back of the net putting the Tara girls 2 points ahead for the first time that day. The Tara girls could not celebrate for too long though as Croydon again pushed the ball forward to try and get their own goal. Emer Kelly in full back however stood strong, allowing O'Rourke and Traynor to push the ball out of danger and up the field once again. When the final whistle blew a few minutes later, it was a tired but delighted Tara team who were the 2014 Senior League champions.
Captain Caroline Kelly picked up the plaque from London Camogie President Ettie Kelly and both teams retired to the club house for some much needed refreshments.
Both teams will meet again in 2 weeks time for the first round of the Senior Championship. With the level of intensity and determination shown on Sunday, it will make for another enthralling encounter.
Many thanks to all the officials, referee Beano Collins and to all those at Tir Chonail Gaels for the use of the facilities on Sunday.