FOR the second consecutive year the All Ireland ambitions of The Harps were dashed by the Ulster champions Eoghan Rua.
In 2011 the sides met in the final where the Laois side were on the wrong end of 3-8 to 2-3 scoreline. Last Sunday they had to travel to Tyrone for the game but they pushed their opponents much closer.
In fact had The Harps taken the chances they created in both halves, they would have been the ones booking their tickets for a second consecutive All Ireland Final. Alas that was not be as the Laois side were again left to wonder what might have been
Trailing by 1-4 to 0-3 at the break after conceding an early goal, The Harps were under pressure but they mounted a fine comeback after half-time effectively laying siege to the Eoghan Rua goal.
Unfortunately they were unable to turn their pressure into scores. However with time ticking down Aisling Phelan did drill a rasping drive to the back of the Eoghan Rua reducing the gap to three points. There was still time to grab an equaliser but it was not to be for the Laois champions as time was not on their side and final whistle went before they could complete their comeback.
It was a long trip north for The Harps and their supporters but despite the distance of over 180 miles, the Laois contingent outnumbered the Northern side’s fans. The pitch at St. Mary’s Killyclogher, was in great condition despite the early morning rain.
Louise Mahony converted an early ‘45 for The Harps getting them off to a good start.
Eoghan Rua were quick to react and their attacks finally paid dividends as McGoldrick picked up the rebound after a save by Grace Murphy and slammed to the back of the net. McGoldrick was on target again soon after as she pointed a free.
This was not a start The Harps would have wished for but they almost hit back t the other end but Theresa Bennett was fouled as she raced forward towards a certain goal. The Harps had to be satisfied with a point by Louise Mahony from the resultant free.
The defence at both ends were very solid and the forwards found it difficult to break through.
McGoldrick was fouled as she tried to make headway and she duly converted her own free. The center-forward a thorn in The Harps side all day and her total of 1-7 out of her side’s 1-8 proved to be a match winning contribution.
Two wides followed for The Harps before Aine Mahony split the posts following a foul on Elaine Mahony.
The harps continued to press and Theresa Bennett was soon on the attack again but she saw her hand pass to goals go narrowly wide.
Meanwhile Grainne McGoldrick was on target as she pointed two more frees to give a half-time score of 1-4 to 0-3 in favour of the Northern outfit.
Aine Mahony opened the Harps account early in the second half as she sent the ball over the bar but McGoldrick soon replied with a pointed free. The Harps now had all the possession however they failed to convert a number of scoring chances while the deadly accurate McGoldrick added two points for her side.
Louise Mahony got one back for The Harps but Eoghan Rua added another courtesy of Grace McMullan, the only player outside of McGoldrick to score for her side. Another Eoghan Rua attack was stopped when Grace Murphy pulled off a brilliant save and cleared the ball up field where Rosie Phelan gathered and passed to Denise Quigley. She sent the ball towards the square and Aisling Phelan smashed to the back of the net to narrow the gap to three points.
That gave The Harps the slightest glimmer of hope but time ran out for them when referee John Dolan from Clare blew the final whistle minutes later. Thus ended The Harps dream of All-Ireland glory in 2012.
Eoghan Rua have star forward Gráinne McGoldrick, who contributed all bar one point of her side’s tally, and her sister Maebh who was solid at centreback, to thank for their progress.
This was a tough game with a great display of camogie from both sides, but the chances that went amiss proved very costly for The Harps. They were undoubtedly hampered by injuries to a number of players coming into the match, who despite their injuries gave their all, but there is no doubt that the team played their hearts out.
Now as the girls take a well deserved rest they should be comforted by the fact that their success over the past six years has brought pride to both The Harps Club and Laois Camogie and they can look forward to the year ahead and a challenging Laois championship.
Eoghan Rua: Grainne McGoldrick 1-7 (0-7f), Grace McMullan 0-1
The Harps: Aisling Phelan 1-0, Louise Mahony 0-3 (0-2 frees, 0-1 ‘45’), Aine Mahony 0-2 (0-1f)
Eoghan Rua: Aileen Moore; Adele Archibald, Maria Mooney, Aisling Carey; Eilis McNamee, Meabh McGoldrick, Maureen Heneghan; Kelly Maybin, Jane Carey; Maeve Dillon, Grainne McGoldrick, Megan Kerr; Rosanna McAleese, Grace McMullan, Claire Tracey. Substitutes used; Amy Holmes for R McAleese (48mins).
The Harps: Grace Murphy; Joan Dollard, Denise Quigley, Patricia Dunphy; Michelle Fitzpatick, Catriona Phelan, Claire Walsh; Louise Molloy, Elaine Mahony; Rosie Phelan, Angela Hanlon, Aisling Phelan; Laura Mahony, Therese Bennett, Aine Mahony. Substitutes used;Joanne Prior for P Dunphy (57mins). Sarah Lee Murphy, Bronagh Dunne, Deirdre Holland, Helen Keane, Martina Hyland, Miriam Dalton, Lorna Campion, Niamh Delaney, Shauna Monahan, Hazel Costigan, Edel Costigan, Yvonne Mullins.Manager/Trainer: Mike Bolger. Selectors: Anne Mahony, Tom Dunne, Gerry Murphy.