Inagh/Kilnamona were crowned PK Travel Clare Senior Camogie Champions for the first time in their history when they took the McMahon Cup from 2015 winners Newmarket-on-Fergus.
Twelve months on from a heartbreaking defeat against the same opposition, Inagh/Kilnamona got their revenge but more importantly now have their name scribed on the base of the McMahon Cup.
It was the hurt of last year that drove them to glory as they matched Newmarket when it came to the basics such as first touch but it was in areas such as their work ethic, hunger and goal-getting that they proved superior.
They couldn’t have got off to a better start as with three minutes on the clock they had struck the back of the net. Goalkeeper Ciara McCarthy committed herself to the tackle and fouled Laura Rynne, Damien Fox awarded a penalty which Amy Keating struck to the roof of the net leaving McCarthy along with Carol O’Leary and Roisin McMahon on the line with no chance.
Within seven minutes Newmarket were back on level terms as Gemma McInerney, Annmarie Hayes and Aimee McInerney split the posts. Roisin McMahon and Sinead Quinn traded scores at the midway stage of the half before the Blues edged in front via points on the double from Rachel Kelleher and one from Annmarie Hayes.
She was the first to score in the half and Amy Keating was also the last as she added a free in additional time. Her strike left a single point between the teams, something that came back to bite Newmarket as despite being the more dominant side for the majority of the half they held the smallest of advantages at half-time.
Once more Inagh/Kilnamona got off to a dream start, full-forward Amy Keating got past Laura McMahon and caught McCarthy off her line to pick up her second goal. Keating added two pointed frees subsequent to this to put them in the driving seat.
Newmarket replied with points from Roisin and Michelle McMahon before Aileen Kilmartin got a vital touch to the sliotar to brush it over the goal-line and put the Blues in front with forty one minutes played.
Aimee McInerney linked up well with cousin Gemma to increase their lead to two but within the space of three minutes the sides were back on level terms as Amy Keating added two more frees.
Substitute Helen Hehir made her mark on the game as she netted on the fifty first minute to power Inamona in front. Roisin McMahon kept Newmarket in contention with a placed ball, several goal chances presented themselves for the Blues in the dying stages but their forwards failed to capitalise on these opportunities. Hehir sealed the win with her second green flag as she handpassed to the net.
Since their formation four years ago Inagh/Kilnamona have always been knocking on the door and quickly established themselves as a force. Today they knocked down the door with vigour and are no longer a force but champions. While they allowed Newmarket take over in stages they always come back and at pivotal times.
They were able to bring players of the calibre of Fiona Lafferty, Claire Commane and Helen Hehir from the bench with the trio making a significant impact. Losing County Finals can be the making or breaking of a team, their 2015 defeat to the Blues spurred them on the day, they are now in the position they dreamed of being and have the potential to rule the roost for years to come. Teresa O’Keeffe, Amy Keating and Clare Hehir were their best over the hour.
As they reflect on where it went wrong Newmarket’s inability to take their chances will stand out. On County Final day you cannot pass up on goal opportunities and they did. Over the hour they hit twelve scores while Inamona got ten, the difference being the winners got goals. They conceded six points from frees of which one or two were awarded softly by Damien Fox.
To their credit the Blues never gave in and when they found themselves trailing at the start of the second half they replied but once they conceded a third goal it took the wind from their sails. Their substitutes failed to make the same contribution as their counterparts, noticeable Inagh/Kilnamona worked tirelessly off the ball while the same can’t be said for Newmarket. Darren Hayes’ side represented the County tremendously as champions and the biggest test awaits them in seeing if they can bounce back to get their hands on the McMahon Cup again. Aoife Griffin, Annmarie Hayes and Aimee McInerney were most influential for the winners.
Large crowds gathered in Clarecastle for the showpiece event in the Clare Camogie calendar, it shows the importance of avoiding a clash with a Clare Senior County Final in either hurling or gaelic football.
Inagh/Kilnamona: Rebecca Keating; Michelle Wynne, Siobhan Lafferty, Orlaith Cotter; Teresa O’Keeffe, Clare Hehir, Louise Ryan; Andrea O’Keeffe, Sinead Quinn (0-01); Aoife Keane, Sinead O’Loughlin, Jane Fitzgerald; Tara Rynne, Amy Keating (2-06 6f 1’Pen), Laura Rynne. Subs: Claire Commane for T Rynne (HT), Sinead Power for Cotter (HT), Fiona Lafferty for L Rynne (35), Helen Hehir (2-00) for S O’Loughlin (48)
Newmarket-on-Fergus: Ciara McCarthy; Jane O’Leary, Laura McMahon, Aoife Griffin; Carol O’Leary, Roisin McMahon (0-03 2f 1’45), Aimee McInerney (0-02); Aine O’Brien, Niki Kaiser; Rachel Kelleher (0-02), Gemma McInerney (0-01), Sharon McMahon; Iris Kaiser, Aileen Kilmartin (1-00), Annmarie Hayes (0-02). Subs: Michelle McMahon (0-01) for S McMahon (HT), Joanne Walsh for I Kaiser (48),
Referee: Damien Fox (Clooney/Quin)
All pictures by Veronica McMahon