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Queen’s work hard and come out on top in Purcell Weekend Thriller

Arriving on Friday afternoon to the Regency Hotel that was to be their ‘base’ for the weekend the Queens University Camogie team soon settled into their comfortable surroundings. After a useful, although light, training session just down the road at St. Patrick’s College Drumcrondra the players where able to begin focusing on the task of facing the host team Trinity the next day. After a nice evening meal and a short team meeting later the challenge was set to the Queen’s players and a bit of looking in the “mirror” was needed.

With the game being put back until 2pm the players had a bit more waiting around to do on the morning of the game and this undoubtedly led to a few nerves surfacing as the journey over to the Portmarnock pitches was a quiet one as a lot of players seemed to be reflecting on the task at hand. With St.Mary’s winning their shield semi-final against IT Tralee immediately before the Queen’s/Trinity game the other finalists were already known. From here it was just up to Queens to focus on winning their game and leaving Sunday until Sunday.

What followed was a good fast open game of camogie that many observers thought was one of the better games of the weekend. With Trinity having Dublin’s All-star nominee Catriona Power in midfield and another Dublin player Niamh Talyor in attack Queens had plenty to think about. However Queens settled to their task early and proceeded to take some good early scores from the stick of Niamh McGeown and when Karen Gribben settled she took some good scores. With Queens half-back line starting to impose themselves on the game and Emma Keith marshalling her full-back line very well, many Trinity attacking moves where snuffed out. The midfield of Edelle Henry and Bronagh McDonnell (who effectively took her player to the ‘cleaners’) worked diligently throughout and when tin attack Niamh McGeown, Claire Kinsella and Karen Gribben were prominent. However, the unsung hero in attack was corner-forward Adelle Archibald who chipped in with two well taken goals to bring the final score to 3 – 8 to 0 – 3. After having won and doing a short warm down the Queens players did not celebrate too much, as another hard day lay ahead of them on Sunday.

After the game it was back to the hotel again and tucked into a well deserved meal, a lot of the players looked jaded and tired so a quiet night in was called for. After a short team meeting at 8.30pm the players then went about having a good nights rest for the task that lay ahead of them the next day. After breakfast on the Sunday the players proceeded to mass at 10am and ‘made their peace with God’, before getting back on to the team bus and making their way to Portmarnock. After a brisk warm-up (with Emma hitting Chris right on the forehead with a ball) the girls set about making themselves ready for their All-Ireland final.   

Games with Queens and St.Mary’s had always been tight affairs as they were derby games and a lot of local rivalry was particularly evident, this was to be no different. Queens went into an early lead which they would go on to keep until the middle of the second half, with Niamh McGeown scoring one from play and two frees. The tone of the game was being set early on however with both defences getting on top early, with Emma Keith dominating her position and player at every opportunity and being ably assisted by her two corner backs Roisin Devlin and Siobhan McDonnell. Queen’s went into a half-time lead 0 – 3 to 0 – 2.

The half-back line came into their own in the second half and with Kerri Crossey in inspired form at right-half back they really came into their own. AideneMullan having another sound game at centre-half, with Orla McDonnell mopping a lot of ball up at wing half. Bronagh McDonnell and Edelle Henry were again very industrious in the middle of the field and Claire Kinsella and Karen Gribben worked hard up front. With St.Mary’s then equalising 10 minutes in to the half the game was poised on a knife edge for most of the 2nd half as chances went begging at both ends. With two minutes on the clock St.Mary’s knocked a free over and they began celebrating, which ultimately proved to be premature. Queens got the ball up the other end of the field and after the ball broke loose on the left wing Suzi Devlin picked the ball up, cut in side and stuck over a sweet and well needed equaliser. With this the game looked like going into extra-time, however Queens won the ball on the puck out and it went into substitute Catherine Higgins who moved it in towards the goal, where another substitute Laura Lavery picked up the ball and cut along the end line before being fouled. The free was 10 yards in from the sideline and up stepped “Fresher” Claire Kinsella, as she was placing the ball the referee informed her that it was the last stroke of the game. However, she held her nerve and stroked the ball between the posts to give Queens the lead and on the puck out the final whistle blew.

What followed was celebrations spanning two years worth of work and training, after being beaten in the Purcell Cup final last year, the Queens players where due their win and showed their fighting qualities and never say die attitude. It was hard luck for St.Mary’s, but the unfortunate thing about team sports is that someone has to lose. In the view of Queens Coach Chris Clarke: “the harder you work the luckier you get, and this team worked hard, so I would begrudge them nothing”. This win was especially meaningful as Queens had lost Marita McDonnell and Mary McPolin cruelly to injury the week leading up to the Purcell and they can take their satisfaction for playing their part along the way, and also that they will be there next year and stake their claim for the Purcell Cup. A special note must go out to Bronagh McDonnell, who after fracturing her collarbone in the semi-final win over Trinity played a great game at midfield in the final. The performance of all the players was down to character and self-belief, at the end of the day the players were able to look around the changing rooms after the final and look each-other in the eye and be proud. After the game the players were able to realise that they were All-Ireland champions and that could never be taken away from them.


At the banquet Queens where duly rewarded with three combined Universities All-stars:


Bronagh Keenan (also puck fada winner)

Niamh McGeown

Claire Kinsella

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