While we drew level just over four minutes from the end of normal time with Deirdre McMahon’s second goal, the wind-aided home side finished stronger and hit four points without reply to secure a berth in the semi-final.
However, the loss isn’t the end of the world for us as it simply means we will be taking the same route in the championship for the fourth year running, incorporating ad added game in the quarter-final. That game was originally pencilled in for Monday next but has now been postponed until August 27, and the month’s break is a godsend as it will give plenty of time for our injury victims to recover.
With Bridget Curran (heel) and Katrina Parrock (thumb) injured at the moment, and Michelle Hearne forced off with an ankle injury, this was another huge blow for an already depleted side.
Although we answered Rathnure’s first point with replies from Kate Kelly(free), Hazel O’Leary and another Kate free, they regained the lead in the 13th minute with a handpassed goal from close range which was impossible to stop. Two points were added before we drew level ten minutes before the interval when Deirdre McMahon found the far corner of the net with a neat finish.
That was our last score before half-time though, with Rathnure adding a couple of points to lead by 1-5 to 1-3. The performance after the break was much improved even though we were against the wind, with an encouraging start giving us belief and desire that some players seemed to be lacking earlier.
Kate Kelly converted one of two early chances from frees and we battled on admirably despite injuries to Deirdre McMahon, Leona Tector and Sandy Carr at different stages, with the latter making a fine save and being upended in the follow-up which resulted in a Rathnure being disallowed.
The opposition added a handpassed point near the end of the third quarter, but almost 13 scoreless minutes followed when we matched them step for step but found it hard to create clearcut chances. Another Rathnure point left three between the sides before we equalised in the 56th minute, with a long range free coming back into play off the crossbar and Deirdre McMahon reacting quickest to flick the breaking the ball to the net (2-4 to 1-7).
Unfortunately, we couldn’t build on that momentum in the closing minutes as Rathnure steadied themselves with two points from frees before adding another brace from play in added time. Our growing injury list has severely hampered us up to this point, but hopefully the extended break until the quarter-final will prove a blessing in disguise. If every player gives the full commitment there is no reason why we cannot enjoy a great year because this championship is wide open.
Team as follows: Sandy Carr, Ciara Donohoe (capt), Leona Tector, Maeve Quill, Fiona Cullen, Aine Lacey, Sharron Daly, Shelly Doyle, Kate Kelly(0-3 frees), Hazel O’Leary (0-1), Anne-Marie Kelly, Niamh Walsh, Deirdre McMahon (2-0), Michelle Hearne, Michelle Murphy. Subs: Ciara Neville for Hearne, inj, also Mary Cullen, Aine Barron, Caroline Curran, Sinead Kelly and Lisa Quill.