Junior A Connacht Camogie Colleges Champions. Back Row: Katie Diviney, Eimear Tully, Zoe Gilligan, Saoirse Gilligan, Lisa Coleman, Roisin Joyce, Aoife Raftery, Lauren Butler, Kate Moran, Sarah McCartin. Middle Row: Katelyn Tuffy, Claire Callahan, Tara Stephens, Caoimhe Allen, Rachael Tuffy, Sinead Lyons, Leah Burke (captain), Sarah Ryan, Leah Crotty, Maria Donohoe, Kaci Moran, Nessa Kelly, Ms.Page. Front Row: Aisling Sheehan, Anna Howley, Nicola Harte, Claire Forde, Anna Kilduff, Niamh Niland, Laura Kelly, Sinead Coleman, Caoilfhinn Hennessy, Hannah Finn. Missing from photo: Sandra Greaney.
We had an extremely successful year in Pres Athenry regarding camogie. Back in October, our first years started the ball rolling in winning our own Mairead Meehan First Year seven aside tournament but our older girls did not want this to be the only camogie cup coming to the Pres this academic year. After the heartache of losing both the Junior A and Senior A finals last year, over sixty girls regrouped with all one goal in mind and that was to win both these finals and they didn't disappoint. The girls trained every Monday and Thursday or Friday since last September. Our first Senior A match was on the 6th of October where we overcame St. Brigids Loughrea on a scoreline of 2.15 to 7 points. Next up was Gort on the 24th of October where we overcame them on a scoreline of 10.23 to three points putting us top of our group and into a semi final. With other matches still not played, we knew this semi final would not come soon so we set about playing challenge matches versus NUIG Galway, Ursulines Thurles, Doon Limerick and Roscommon Intermediates as well starting to train every Sunday with Gerry Cronnelly. We trained throughout the Christmas Holidays in preparation for our semi final which was now fixed for January 10th in Leitrim pitch against Gort. Having beat Gort so well early on, complacency was a worry and with a big wind behind us in the first half, this worry got increased as we were struggling to score. Niamh Niland, however, came on having not started and made a huge difference and when she scored her first goal of four, she kicked the rest of the girls into action. After that the girls did not look back, eventually winning comfortably on a scoreline of 7.17 to 1.02 and setting up a Connacht final against rivals St. Brigids. Even though the girls had beaten St.Brigids well earlier in the year, there was no fear of complacency for this match, especially since St. Brigids had since welcomed their Sarsfields and Cappatagle girls back. Played on Wednesday, the 18th of January, this was an extremely tough match and a real battle. Conceding a goal early on, the girls fought back to go up a point at halftime with a goal from Lauren Gilligan playing an important part . However, after halftime, St.Brigids put on the pressure and went three points up and the Pres girls looked in trouble. However a tonic goal from a free from Leanne Freaney brought belief back to the girls and they pushed on to win on a scoreline of 2.11 to 2.08. Each girl played their part in which was a real team effort as well as the subs who came on. Great celebrations followed after the final whistle, especially when co-captains Leanne Freaney and Nicola Lawless lifted the cup. The girls then regrouped and started back training hard again the following Monday in preparation for their All Ireland semi final versus Loreto, Kilkenny. Great commitment was shown, even though our Leaving And Junior Cert girls were completing their mock exams. We travelled down to Kilkenny city on Saturday, the 11th of February but unfortunately it wasn't to be. The girls fought hard but were beaten by the eventual All Ireland champions on a scoreline of 1.14 to 1.08.
Our Junior championship started on the 18th of October where we overcame Seamount Kinvara on a scoreline of 7.13 to 2.05. Next up was St. Brigid’s in Craughwell on the 25th of November where we beat them on a scoreline of 5.05 to 1.04. Like their senior counterparts, the girls then had to wait to see who they would have to play in semi final so challenge and championship matches with the Senior A team and championship matches with the Senior C team kept them occupied until eventually on Wednesday, February 1st, the girls lined out against St.Killians New Inn in their Connacht semi final. This proved to be a really tough challenge and the girls had to really fight hard to grind out a win but eventually overcame St.Killians by two points – 3.10 to 2.11. After the match, there was a sense of unease and disappointment in the dressing room as the girls knew themselves they had not done themselves justice. However, they had not time to dwell in it as three days later they had to line out in the Connacht final against a very fancied St. Brigids side who had eased past Gort in their semi final. The girls knew they had to prove a point. They felt they were much better than they had played in the semi final and a final was no better place to prove this and they did not disappoint. Each girl from one to fifteen and the subs who came on put on a much better display and proved to everyone there watching they deserved to be in this final. Fighting for every ball and taking on the Brigids girls, they became Connacht Champions on a scoreline of 3.09 to 1.04. It was a really proud mature display by these young girls and again great celebrations followed when Leah Burke lifted the cup on behalf of the team. Unfortunately, a week after the senior girls losing out, it was the same result for the junior team in the All Ireland final who also lost out to a very strong and the eventual All Ireland Champions, Loreto Kilkenny again -the final scoreline being 5.16 to 3.05. Credit where credit is due however, as the girls showed great heart in the second half even when facing a huge battle and fought to the very end.
On top of this, we also entered a Senior C team with any girls who did not get championship game time with the Senior A’s eligible to play along with many of our Junior A panel. Our first match was against St. Cuans in November where we lost a large lead to eventually draw the game. Many lessons were learned that day in Raheen and we knew we had to defeat St.Dominan College in order to qualify for the final. The girls stood up to the challenge the following week and put in a much better performance to defeat St. Dominican College on a scoreline of 10.09 to 3.10. With Dominican College overcoming St.Cuans, this meant we were to meet again in the final in January. Two days after the Senior A success, these girls wanted to keep the winning streak going and they also did not disappoint. This was a very young team playing again Dominicans first team but our girls knew age was only a number, winning on a scoreline of 3.10 to 2.07. This was a great achievement and definitely contributed to our Junior A success. More celebrations followed when Lisa Coleman accepted the cup on behalf of the team.
It truly has been one of the most successful years for Pres Athenry camogie. Three Connacht cups is a fantastic achievement but very much deserved for these group of girls who train very hard. We wish our very best to our ten Leaving Cert girls - Nicola Lawless, Leanne Freaney, Emma Gaffney, Sinead Walsh, Amy Hynes, Niamh Donnellan, Niamh Keane, Megan McDonagh, Eimear Keane and Sarah Kearney – as they move on from Pres Athenry and congratulate them on the great achievement of winning each Connacht A championship in their years in the school- 1st Year, Minor, Junior, two Junior 7’s and Senior. We also congratulate our three players, Leah Burke, Katie Stephens and Mary Dunphy, who were part of the Galway Minor camogie panel who won the All Ireland in April. We also wish our Pres contingent who are part of the county u16 and u14 panels the very best of luck this summer.
Senior C Connacht Colleges Camogie Champions. Back Row: Katie Diviney, Eimear Tully, Zoe Gilligan, Aoife Raftery, Sarah Ryan, Saoirse Gilligan, Lauren Butler, Rachael Tuffy, Aoife McSweeney. Middle Row: Rebecca Ruane, Sinead Walsh, Aine O'Farrell, Hannah Finn, Claire Callanan, Sinead Lyons, Lisa Coleman (captain), Kaci Moran, Maria Donohoe, Nessa Kelly, Katelyn Tuffy, Aishling Keane, Ms.Page. Front Row: Aisling Sheehan, Anna Howley, Nicola Harte, Anna Kilduff, Caoimhe Allen, Aoife Moran, Laura Kelly, Sinead Coleman. Missing from photo: Kim O'Hehir, Sandra Greaney, Fiona Walsh.