Old rivals Tara and Croydon went head to head on Sunday in Greenford to battle it out for the junior league title. After a very tough 60 minutes Tara emerged victorious by the narrowest of margins.
From the first whistle it was clear that both teams were not going to make it easy for their opponents. The first 10 minutes saw some very strong battles by both sides and some very strong defence play was eviden.. The opening few minutes was to set the tone for the rest of the game with both teams finding scores hard to come by, only due to the work rate of both back lines.
The Tara girls were the first to appear on the score board when Anna Nyhan passed a great ball into full forward Mary Fenton who effortlessly flicked the ball into her hand, turned her player and put the ball over the bar. Croydon responded straight away when Lauren Lee caught the puck out, made a great run thorough the Tara defence and put the ball between the posts. Only two minutes later, the Tara girls were in trouble as Keelyn o Neill scored a great point from the middle of the field to put the South Londoners a point ahead with 5 minutes left in the first half. Joni Traynor saw that work needed to be done and cleared a brilliant ball into the hand of Tara corner forward Gillian Dennehy. Dennehy ran through the Croydon defence and found support in Mary Fenton who delivered an inch perfect pass to corner forward Eilish O Neill who didn't think twice about putting the sliotar over the bar! This meant that both teams were level at the half time break.
The second half got off to a good start for the Tara girls when corner forward Eilish o Neill won the ball in mId field, raced through the Croydon defence and put the ball over the bar. The second half saw some great defensive play from both teams, Croydon’s Keelyn o Neill was unlucky not to score and her marker Niamh Murphy didn't make things any easier for her with some great defending. Clare Curtin for Croydon made some excellent clearances to keep the south Londoners in the game.
The Tara forwards were put under a lot of pressure by the Croydon backs, Marion Toomy and Fiona Carey made it difficult for the Tara girls to convert their scores despite some great attacks by Anna Nyhan and Gillian Dennehy. Finally in the 15th minute of the second half, Taras got the break they had be threatening all day. A great clearance from corner back Derbhail O Neill, saw the ball travel up to corner forward Eilish o Neill who was playing out of her skin all day. O Neill didn't think twice about going straight for goal and rattled the back of the net, putting the West Londoners up by 4 with 14 minutes go. Despite some great defending by the Tara back line, Croydon responded 5 minutes later with a goal of their own. The Tara back line were caught ball watching when goalie Emma Dunlea pulled off a great save. Croydon were first to react when mid fielder Sinead Allis denied Dunlea her clearance and put the ball in the back of the net with a ground strike.
This put a point between the teams with 9 minutes remaining. The Tara girls were under serious pressure in the reaming minutes of the game but some great defending by Goalkeeper, Emma Dunlea, Joni Trayor and Sarah Quinn denied Croydon the equalising point. The final score was 1-3 to 1-2 with in favour of the Taras. The low scoring was not a reflection of the intensity of this game as both teams gave the spectators and exciting 60 minutes of Camogie.
This was the first time in 4 years that Tara won the Junior league final. Tara captain, Emer Kelly received the plaque form London Camogie president Ettie Kelly. Both teams meet again next Saturday in the Junior Championship semi final in what will sure to be another excellent exhibition of Camogie. Congratulations to the Tara girls again for a great win.