By Kevin Egan
From the moment Nicola Crean opened Four Roads’ account with a close range score, drawing the Roscommon champions level after they conceded the first point of the game, this contest looked to most of the audience in Edgeworthstown as if it was following a perfect script from the Tisrara women’s perspective. They quietly edged their way in front with a solid and controlling defensive performance, they carved out chances up front, and duly killed the game off early in the second half with goals from Niamh Coyle and Aisling Dempsey.
Manager Adrian Tully saw it slightly differently, however, expressing his disappointment that his players didn’t find the net earlier and land a decisive blow on the Crosserlough side before half time.
“I thought in the first half we were well on top and didn’t get the scores. We missed a few goal opportunities and we always felt on the sideline that if we got a goal, we’d pull away from them but we couldn’t get it,” opined the former Roscommon goalkeeper after the game.
“They had a few key players that needed to be minded and our girls minded them very well. In fairness to Crosserlough, I think one of their key players picked up an injury very early on.
“A goal, particularly in camogie, can be a very big swing moment, and the longer we didn’t get it, the more we opened the door for Crosserlough to stay in the game, and maybe even snatch one themselves. Once Sinéad (O’Brien) got through, but, crucially, she did get the point so it wasn’t as if it was a huge boost to them. Possibly she could have carried it a bit further in towards goal, but we’ll take it at this stage,” he explained.
The stage is now set for a clash with the reigning Meath, Leinster and All-Ireland champions on Sunday week, and while Four Roads will go from being clear favourites here to huge underdogs for that clash, Tully is delighted that his players have earned the chance to avenge their final defeat to the same opposition four years ago.
“It’ll be a new experience for a lot of them, but some of them have been there before. To be honest, we trained to win a county final, we prepared hard to take on Athleague and that was a huge challenge for us after the last few years. Anything was a bonus after that.
“We’ve a great bunch of players here who are really enjoying their camogie at the moment. That’s the most important thing, and it makes the job of the management team a lot easier. They’ve huge enthusiasm for the game, they want to work at improving themselves as players and as a team, and you can see that approach in the way they applied themselves out on the field.
“Kilmessan will obviously be a very different type of challenge. They’re a really top class side, but you have to be in it to win it and we’ll give it a rattle anyway,” he promised.
Captain Aisling Fallon took a similar view of the game, saying that from a player’s perspective, it was a very tense battle up until the breakthrough goal after 35 minutes.
“That goal from Niamh Coyle made a huge difference, but we didn’t want to get too complacent after that either and still we gave away a couple of soft frees, so that’s something we’ll have to be aware of as we prepare for the final now,” noted the wing-back.
“The standard here today was very high. It was a much tougher game physically than we would have been used to in Roscommon, but that will really stand to us against Kilmessan in two weeks’ time. They’ll certainly be a very powerful team too. But it’s nice to be in a position to take them on and see how we do.
“We’ve a very strong team, we’ve an excellent bench with good girls waiting to come in, there’s real competition for places, so from our point of view we’re in a good place. It’s a huge test, but we’re looking forward to it,” she concluded.