Inched out again, but not by a mile

Inched out again, but not by a mile By Fr Liam Kelleher.

Carnacon 2-11 Inch Rovers 2-6

No matter what positive spin, you put on the outcome of this game, it will be of little consolation to Inch Rovers, who need not be reminded, that this was a game they could and should have won. Totally dominant in the opening period, with the defence led by Angela and Ciara Walsh giving nothing away, they opened up a 1-6 to 0–3 interval lead with Mary O’Connor who missed last years final through injury showing all her experience to unlock the Carnacon defence. The omens looked good, despite having to face the pretty severe elements after the break. That lead could have been at least another 6 points if Inch had taken their chances and had not the Carnacon keeper Caroline Brennan made some stunning saves. One in particular, when she somehow managed to get to, a rasping ground shot from Jill Horan before the break. Indeed Miss Horan who was proving to be a handful upfront could have bagged a hatrick in the opening period having another good effort blocked before her opening goal in the 5th minute.

Great start

Inch started the 2nd half where they left off in the first half, with many of their sizable contingent barely settled in their seats, after the half time sus, the Cork girls had the ball in the net again. In a lightning move Amy O’Shea set up Claire Keohane for a stunning goal and a 9 point cushion, it looked like game set and match. They were desperately unlucky in the very next attack when a terrific piece of individual skill and speed saw 15 year old Jessica O’Shea almost poach another goal. That was as good as it got for the East Cork girls, they did not score for the rest of the game. Then the physicality of Carnacon took over and players, who had been well shackled and outplayed by Inch for the previous 35 minutes suddenly found their form when it looked like their title was slipping away. They started stringing their passes together and capitalised to the ultimate from an opportunistic goal, Cora Staunton who had been well policed in the opening half, being confined to 3 points from frees, had reduced the gap with another of her trademark points. Then Mary Hayes former Waterford Senior keeper and recruit of the season, and pardon the pun expected to be their saviour, elected to take a short quick kick out, sensible most times, against a strong wind, it did not reach its intended target and Natasha Beegan reacted very quickly, to collect the ball, to send a neat lob over the retreating keeper, into an empty net. It was the defining score of the game and was a fatal blow to the Cork girls. They did contain the Mayo girls, for the next ten minutes, missed a few chances and literally ran out of puff. It was all Carnacon for the last 15 minutes, Inch looked ragged and jaded, after a long season having given their all. Moves broke down passes went astray and Carnacon capitalised, Staunton punished every indiscretion with some magnificent points from long range frees. The final killer blow came 10 minutes from the end, when Joan Hallinan was at the end of a copybook move to finish to the net, giving the keeper little chance. Cora Staunton again added the insurance points to bring her tally to 11, nine of those from frees. It was by no means a one woman performance from the Mayo girls, players like Caroline Michelle and Sharon McGing, Claire Egan Martha Carter and Fiona McHale all Mayo players, showed commendable fight and determination to mount a stirring comeback, when all seemed lost. For the few neutrals in the ground it was a game to savour, a marvellous contest in the sticky and tricky conditions. Joy for Carnacon and heartbreak again for Inch. Manager Noel O’Connor will ponder forever on this loss as will the players, but they still have a very young age profile, they have come a long way in a short couple of years and a long way from last year, to be so near and yet so far this year. There is an All-Ireland title in this squad, hope springs eternal and hopefully it will be a case of third time lucky next year, but it is a long and winding road. Inch scorers Jill Horan, 1-1 Claire Keohane 1-0 Mary O’Connor 0-3 Angela Walsh 0-1 Amy O’Shea 0-1. Carnacon. Cora Staunton 0-11, Joan Hallinana 1-0 Natasha Beegan 1-0

Inch Rovers Mary Hayes, Mairead Kennedy, Angela Walsh, Sandra Smiddy, Jenny Duffy, Ciara Walsh, Ella Ryan, Orla Cotter Annie Walsh, Jessica O’Shea Mary O’Connor Anne Marie Walsh capt, Jill Horan Amy O’Shea Claire Keohane. Subs used Kate and Sarah Harrington. Carnacon Caroline Brennan Nichola Hurst Caroline McGing Aisling Lydon, Marei Corbett, Aoife Loftus, Sharon McGing. Claire Egan Martha Carter Michelle McGing capt, Fiona McHale, Natasha Beegan, Joan Hallinan, Cora Staunton, Noelle Tierney. Subs used Aoife Brennan Niamh Moylette.

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