The Laois minor camogie team, under trainer Johnny Campion and selectors Helen Collier and Mary Conroy, travelled to Trim recently to play Down in the All-Ireland semi-final, in what proved to be the classic game of two halves.
Down dominated the first half and Laois were not helped when their hard-working wing-back, Rebecca Treacy, was badly hurt after a clash with Down’s wing forward, and had to be replaced by Maria Fitzpatrick after 10 minutes. Under intense pressure, the Laois girls struggled to score in the first half, with all of their three points coming from Laura Marie Maher, and Laois were trailing by 14 points at the break.
The Laois team regrouped at half time, and after a number of tactical switches, the tide began to change in the favour of Laois when full-forward Emma Phelan led the bravest comback in recent memory, as she buried the sliotar in the back of the Down net.
This was followed by another cracking goal, this time from Kelly O’Neill, and it looked like Laois were beginning to believe in themselves again. Laura Marie Maher, Lorna Campion and Lizzy Ryan all scored lovely individual points before the ever dependable Laois captain Yvonne O’Neill narrowed the gap between the teams to just four points with seven minutes remaining.
Up to that point, Down had only scored two points in the second half, and with Laois now dominating the game, it looked like it could go down to the wire. However, Laois failed to push on from there, and Down scored the last two points of the game before the final whistle.
The Laois minor team will be taking a break and will be getting back together later in the year to prepare for the Leinster Championship.
LAOIS: Aoife McEvoy; Hannah O’Neill, Síle Burke, Joyce Dunne; Rebecca Treacy, Casey Conroy, Siún Lennon; Lorna Campion, Laura Marie Maher; Maeve Collier, Yvonne O’Neill (captain), Rosemarie Phelan; Kelly O’Neill, Emma Phelan, Niamh Coss. Subs: Maria Fitzpatrick for Rebecca Treacy, Courtney Lally for Maria Fitzpatrick, Lizzy Ryan for Hannah O’Neill, Grace O’Neill for Niamh Coss, Mary Ryan, Marie Delaney, Louise Lynch and Clare Fitzgerald.