Classy Ciara Lancaster guides Arklow Rocks to stunning victory over Glenealy in Wicklow Intermediate camogie final
Arklow side jump from Junior to Senior in two seasons
Arklow Rocks 1-9
Two frees from Ciara Lancaster deep into injury-time snatched victory from the jaws of defeat for Arklow Rocks in the 2023 Intermediate camogie final at Pearse’s Park. Arklow, on Sunday.
Leading for the majority of the game, Lancaster was unnerved as her side fell behind in the 57th minute and split the posts with accurate precision to cap a remarkable 12 months for her club.
In 2022, the Rocks captured Junior honours and just over 12 months later they are celebrating a further championship title and Senior status for 2024.
The final game of the triple header in Arklow, this decider was the best battle on show for the day with Laura Manley and Ciara Lancaster going toe-to-toe for their sides.
In the opening half, the Arklow girls looked very athletic with Lizzie Bourke showing threat with direct runs at speed at the Glenealy defence. Lancaster opened the scoring in this bout in the seventh minute with a free and added another in the 12th.
Glenealy had goalkeeper Jessica Driver to thank for preventing a disastrous opening 15 minutes when she somehow managed to keep an Arklow effort out and prevented a goal.
For Arklow and for Ciara Lancaster, sometimes things seem to go your way. Lancaster generated a bit of space to get a shot away that was excellently blocked but the ball rebounded straight back into Lancaster’s hand who made certain the second time around and opened a three-point lead for her side. Aoife Weir almost opened Glenealy’s account with a goal chance saved by Íde Ryan and Kelly Somers blocking the rebound. Jessica Driver was equal to Arklow’s effort at the other end with the Glenealy stopper thwarting Elizabeth Bourke in the 15th minute. Laura Manley finally got Glenealy up and running with 17 minutes on the clock with a well taken free.
Manley was to play a huge role for her side from placed balls and her accuracy over the course of the hour was another plot line in this encounter.
The Glkenealy ace brought the gap back to a single point with another fine free in the 23rd minute but Arklow’s free-taker Ciara Lancaster was equally adept from placed balls and responded with a free of her own two minutes later.
Glenealy were finding it hard to break down a crowded defence with Arklow’s Emma Breen and Jessica Mellon providing tight coverage around the Arklow goal and defending valiantly in the game. A 45 from Laura Manley brought it back to a single score coming up to the break but an excellent score from play from Ciara Lancaster made it 0-5 to 0-3 at the interval.
Laura Manley was just as capable at finding her teammates with long-range frees as she was at splitting the post and the Glenealy captain found Erynn O’Brien on one such occasion in the fifth minute of the half to split the posts.
Manley followed up with a levelling score with another trademark free and the tide was looking to be turning in Glenealy’s favour. However, the game’s only major arrived in the 10th minute with Glenealy desperately unfortunate to concede.
Jessica Driver again made a fantastic save to prevent a Ciara Lancaster goal but the rebound off the save resulted in a small ruck forming just away from the goal. When the ball was touched out of the crowd of bodies, it was Catherine Bourke who got on the end of the loose ball and charged down on the Glenealy goal and fired a powerful effort to the back of the net.
Glenealy had the perfect response to this with three unanswered points coming from Leah Condell, and a double from Manley.
Both sides should be credited with playing the game at a great pace with Doireann Killoran and Lizzie Bourke establishing a platform with quick play for Arklow and Laura Manley and Lottie Cullen providing the ammunition for Glenealy around the middle of the park.
Ciara Lancaster was the beneficiary of good work from Killoran to put the Rocks back in front in the 50th minute but another Manley free restored parity only minutes later.
A fantastic Arklow score came from the puckout with Íde Ryan finding Lizzie Bourke, who in turn fired a long-range pass down to Roisin Murphy. Murphy showed a deft touch to control the ball on the hurl and turn and fire over a fantastic score.
Another goal chance came Glenealy’s way with Aoife Weir unlucky to see her effort turned wide for a 45 with Manley firing over the leveller.
Laura Manley was in powerful form and anything from 65 yards was well within her range. She showed exactly how lethal she is with a free from just outside the 65 line sailing over the bar to give Glenealy the lead in the 57th minute.
This score was a fantastic strike and probably should have seen Glenealy kick on from this point and see the game out, but this was not in Arklow’s make up.
Lancaster stood tall to fire over a leveller in the first minute of additional time and with time almost up, and a very difficult angle facing her, the Arklow sharpshooter fired over an equally impressive score much to the delight of the Arklow crowd on the roadside of the ground.
Glenealy had time to launch one final attack, but Arklow turned over the ball, drew a free and ran out the clock to come out deserving winners and bounce into Senior ranks for 2024. With many young, athletic players in their ranks, they can really look forward to a bright future.
Arklow: Íde Ryan; Chloe Dobson, Jessica Mellon, Kelly Somers; Niamh Killoran, Emma Breen, Doireann Kavanagh; Doireann Killoran, Elizabeth Bourke; Aine Byrne, Roisin Murphy (0-1), Ciara Lancaster (0-8, 6f). Subs: Aife O’Brien, Maisie Mellon, Catherine Bourke (1-0); Aoife Kavanagh for A O’Brien
Glenealy: Jessica Driver; Grace Drumgoole, Ailbhe Dowling, Nicola Souster; Naoise O’Neill, Lisa Hogan, Niamh O’Brien; Laura Manley (0-9, 6f, 2 45s), Lottie Cullen; Kelly O’Neill, Abi Farrell, Erynn O’Brien (0-1); Shauna Kelly, Aoife Weir, April Dickenson. Subs: Nessa Drumgoole for L Cullen, Rebecca Murphy (0-1) for S Kelly, Ciara Jameson for A Farrell
Referee: Frank Hegarty