Battling Meath lost by the minimum (0-11 to 0-12) against Clare in the All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship at Pairc Tailteann this evening.
The tight finish, with Clare hiting two points in added time, and the dismissal of Kristina Troy at the end of the third-quarter for a second yellow card, will give Meath plenty of reasons for optimism ahead of the remaining games in this group.
And that willingness to keep battling could be the key to finding a victory that will be sufficient to sustain senior status duringa period of transition for the team
The Meath girls started well against a strong wind and had early points from Jane Dolan (free) and Aine McNerney on the board with Andrea O'Keeffe sending over for Clare from play.
Meath only managed two more points for the remainder of the half and they arrived close to the interval when Dolan (free) and Grace Coleman sent over.
Cloeman's point arrived following a good move, but it was really a goal chance. The Killyon woman just couldn't get the
finish she wanted and sustained a hefty knock in the process of batting the sliotar over the bar.
Clare dictated the half and added points from a brace of Mairead Scanlon frees, as welll as a well-taken score from O'Keeffe who caused Meath a lot of problems with her ability to win possession and spray the sliotar around the pitch.
Eimear Kelly, Sinead Conlon and Clare Hehir completed Clare's first-half tally, but Meath made it too easy for the Munster girls who were ahead by 0-7 to 0-4 at the interval.
The Royal County players were second in most races for possession and were also wayaward in the marking department until the latter stages of the half when they upped the tempo slightly.
Meath were sharper after the break and while they laboured for fluency, they couldn't be faulted for effort and determination.
Clare remained in the ascendancy with points from Scanlon (two) and Kelly while Meath were hanging on through the
efforts of Dolan from a free and '45' and fine Aoife Minogue point.
O'Keeffe was fortunate to stay on the pitch following a wild swing that tested the quality of Megan Thynne's helmet.
Referee Eamon Cassidy allowed an advantage to Meath, but eventually brandished a yellow card to the Clare player for what was really a horrendous attaempt at a challenge.
Soon after Meath's Kristina Troy picked up a second yellow card for an offence that didn't equate in any way to the
punishment that was handed out to the Clare woman for the Thynne challenge - but it meant Meath had to play the final
quarter with 14.
Two Dolan points from 45s and one from a free drew the sides level and Clare survived a goalmouth scramble with Meath's Lisa Foley denied by a smart Sarah Loughnane save.
Clare made the most of the extra player in added time with Scanlon and substitute Chloe Morey sending over, but it was nailbiting stuff as Thynne's opportunist point left the minimum in it again.
On this occasion the clock spared Clare's blushes as they got out of Navan with a hard-earned victory.
Clare - Andrea O'Keeffe 0-2; Mairead Scanlon 0-5 two frees; Sinead Conlon 0-1; Eimear Kelly 0-2; Clare Hehir 0-1;
Chloe Morey 0-1.
Meath - Jane Dolan 0-7 five frees, two '45'; Aine McNerney 0-1; Grace Coleman 0-1; Aoife Minogie 0-1; Megan Thynne
SEE THE CLOSING MINUTES
OTHER GAMES IN GROUP 2
WATERFORD V DUBLIN
Waterford had a 1-11 to 1-5 triumph over Dublin at Walsh Park.
Niamh Rockett’s aerial prowess was a feature of this game, allied with a goal and two points from play, while Beth Carton shot eight points and Trish Jackman was imperious.
Rockett raced onto a delivery from Jackman directly from the throw-in and pointed from tight to the left sideline after just 16 seconds. Orla Hickey and Carton also found the target to give the hosts a three-point lead in under two and a half minutes.
The scoring rate slowed considerably as Dublin got to grips with the Déise attack. Aisling Maher got them off the mark from a ninth-minute free and when Kerrie Finnegan goaled in the 24th minute, Frank Browne’s crew held a 1-2 to 0-4 half-time advantage.
Waterford did have the benefit of a breeze in the second half but though Carton split the posts four times, Dublin remained in contention and a converted free by Maher restored parity, which is how it remained until Rockett made the definitive strike in the 52nd minute.
It came from a brilliant sideline by Jackman that Ciara Tierney batted away and the onrushing Rockett sent the sliotar to the roof of the net on the half-volley. It was all Waterford from there to the end, three points from Carton ensuring the verdict for Donal O’Rourke’s unit.
CORK V TIPPERARY
All-Ireland champions Cork came good in the second-half to see off a Tipperary 2-20 to 1-8 in CIT.
The sides were level at the change of ends, 0-10 to 1-7, points from Orla O’Dwyer and Grace O’Brien helping Tipp establish an early lead and though Katrina Mackey and Orla Cotter replied for Cork, a brilliant goal by Megan Ryan after a powerful run gave Bill Mullaney’s outfit the lead once more. Julia White and Cotter were on the mark for the Leesiders before Miriam Campion levelled with a wonder score from distance.
Paudie Murray got a reaction from his players and they gradually pulled clear, Linda Collins, Orla Cronin, Mackey, Cotter and Chloe Sigerson raising white flags and Sigerson goaling from a late penalty as Cork made it two out of two.