Latest Laois Sport: Sizzling Camross crowned Camogie champs as gallant Portlaoise come up short
2020 U-16A Championship Final
Camross 3-08 Portlaoise 1-04
These two clubs constituted the ‘El Classico’ of Laois Hurling back in the 1980’s. On the evidence of this enthralling final held in extreme heat these two sides may well go on to sizzle and dominate Laois Camogie for the coming decade as well and carve out immortality on the way.
At the first water break Camross held a slender one-point lead as there was nothing between the sides. With a congested midfield scores were at a premium. Louise Bergin’s pace threatened to unlock the Portlaoise defence early on but a smart series of saves from Cara Phelan kept the country side out. Camross kept on the pressure however but a narrow wide from Grainne Delaney let the town side off the hook. Delaney was popping up everywhere across the middle and into the half forward line. Indeed the county player, conspicuous in her red helmet, was threatenening to open up Portlaoise on her own. Then an Aoife Daly effort was well held inside by Portlaoise goalkeeper Phelan as Camross kept up the hunt for the game’s opening score.
At the other end Portlaoise started to spark in attack and a long Lola Marum up the right wing had to hurriedly cleared by Camross. The country side’s next raid saw it repelled by an Emily Stack clearance that was half-blocked. The ball spun away out to the lurking Tara Lowry who swung it over the bar. Camross soon added a second when a Lucy Donnery handpass to Grainne Delaney initially saw the county star bottled up. However Delaney managed to break free and fire over her first point of the encounter. The lightning-fast Louise Bergin then got in behind the Portlaoise defence but her shot was millimetres wide.
LIttle by little Portlaoise were getting on more ball however. When the lively Alice kerins was fouled Susie Delaney stepped up and fired over the resulting free to open ‘The Town’s’ account. Portlaoise were now showing their true resolve and bravery. A pair of inspirational blocks followed before Ciara Crowley broke free but fired narrowly wide under pressure for the last attack of note before the water break. Portlaoise were now defending raid after Camross raid. Grainne Delaney showed well in this period and kept Portlaoise on the back foot.
On the resumption of play Camross had the first attack of note but Grainne Delaney’s shot was well held by goalie Cara Phelan. Portlaoise’s response saw Susie Delaney pull her free wide of the left-hand post. The next four minutes saw the game’s momentum swing wildly in Camross’s favour. Tara Lowry broke through and slotted her shot low to Phelan’s left for the game’s opening goal. A reeling Portlaoise were then hit with a Lowry double whammy as the Camross full forward notched up her second goal in quick succession.
Portlaoise’s response saw Ciara Kennedy having to clear off her own goal line. Then the impressive Tara Byrne got through the Camross cover but fired narrowly wide under pressure. At the other end Grainne Delaney was getting on a lot of ball in midfield and using it well for Camross. Fed by Delaney a narrow miss from Louise Bergin was soon followed by a Tara Lowry point as the country outfit began to stretch their lead. When Delaney was fouled she took the free herself but determined Portlaoise defending cleared their lines. Then Delaney was fed by Ella Cuddy but the midfielder pulled her shot wide. The last action of the half saw Ciara Kennedy come to the rescue of Camross again when saving at the feet of Alice Kerins.
The second half opened with Lucy Connery feeding the ball across the Portlaoise defence. When the ball broke out to Grainne Delaney the county player swept the ball over the bar off her left-hand side for a fine score. Ali Cuddy then saw her shot caught as Camross poured on more pressure. Phelan was soon called upon to save on her goal line to keep Camross out. Louise Bergin was able to somehow twist and double on the ball but her shot smacked off the post as Portlaoise’s goals lived a charmed life. The introduction of the lively Eva Dowling added to the pressure on the town side. Within a minute of coming onto the field Dowling won a free which Lowry converted.
At the other end Kennedy was called upon to make another great save as Portlaoise began to hunt for goals. The town side then had the misfortune of seeing a free smack off the post before Ashling Fleming fired the rebound agonisingly wide. Soon after Susie Delaney fired over a free to get the scoreboard moving again for Portlaoise. Then Delaney added a second to hint at a fightback from her side. Soon after Delaney weaved through the Camross rearguard before firing over a fine point from open play to keep Portlaoise in the hunt.
However that great work from Portlaoise was soon undone by a Caoimhe Delaney goal to put more daylight between the sides. Camross threatened to add to their goal tally soon after but Louise Bergin’s shot was blocked a combination of Phelan and Katie O’ Reilly. Points late on from Grainne Delaney and Ali Cuddy stretched the Camross lead. However Portlaoise kept hurling right to the end a got a late, late goal their play deserved.
For a gallant losing side Cara Phelan did well in goals as did Katie O’ Reilly in defence. Further out the field Tara Byrne, Lola Marum, Alice Kerins and Susie Delaney caught the eye. For the victors goalkeeper Ciara Kennedy stopped three certain Portlaoise goals,. Ava Guilfoyle, Leah Daly, Ali Cuddy, Lucy Donnery, Caoimhe Delaney and the pacy Louise Bergin did well for Camross. Eva Dowling was immense when introduced early in the second half. However the Laois People ‘Player of the match’ award has to go to both Tara Lowry and Grainne Delaney. The scoring edge this pair brought to proceedings was the difference between the sides in many respects.
Ciara Kennedy; Holly Cuddy, Annabelle Ryan, Sarah Cuddy; Ella Cuddy, Leah Daly, Ava Guilfoyle; Grainne Delaney, Leah Rice; Aoife Daly, Ali Cuddy, Lucy Donnery; Caoimhe Delaney, Tara Lowry, Louise Bergin
Courtney Chambers, Aimee Delaney, Lily Russell, Lucy Smullen, Rachel Bohan, Eva Dowling
Cara Phelan; Katie O’ Reilly, Aileen O’ Neill, Aoife Morris; Emily Stack, Anna Hanlon, Emma O’ Sullivan; Aoibheann Dalton, Ciara Crowley; Tara Byrne, Grainne Keogh, Lola Marum; Susie Delaney, Alice Kerins, Ashling Fleming
Emma Skehan, Ruby Conroy