Reporting from Dave Billings Park at UCD
TU Dublin did the unthinkable Sunday and won the Electric Ireland Ashbourne Cup for the first time ever, overcoming a very strong UCC side in extra time. Antrim’s Roisin McCormick was the hero in added time of extra time, slotting home a last-gasp free in the 82nd minute.
A year after winning the Purcell Cup, TUD were determined not to be ruled out of the Ashbourne competition. Instead, they gladly embraced the role of underdogs in the championship.
After the match, McCormick said ‘‘We knew we were coming into Ashbourne Cup as underdogs, coming up from Purcell just last year but the girls put the work in and we knew that it was going to take a lot of work and commitment to get to the final but here we are today and finally got over the line against UCC.’’
The game started lively with both teams bringing a fast-paced game to Dave Billings Park in Belfield. Laura Hayes opened the scoring with a brilliant point in the 6th minute, drawing first blood for UCC. TUD were quick to reply getting two unanswered points without a reply. Both were put over the bar by Antrim native Roisin McCormick, one was a well-struck free which glided over the bar from 35m out.
The first half finished UCC leading 0-5 to 0-3. Cliona O’Leary was the star of the half, hitting two impressive frees and driving constantly at TUD’s defensive line before passing it on to her teammates in red.
The opening minutes of the second half were thrilling to watch. Both teams were trading possession early on, with neither team able to get a strong foot-hold on the game. TUD opened the scoring in the second half within 2 minutes, with a lovely point from Dublin forward Kerrie Finnegan to keep TUD right on UCC’s backs.
Two key players keeping Cork ahead were Father O'Neills and Cork forward Clodagh Finn along with free-taker Cliona O’Leary. UCC seemed to be in control the last few minutes despite being outscored by their opponents in this half. However, an excellently taken point by first-year student Megan Dowdall from Clonkill in Westmeath in the 57th minute left just a point between the two teams, with three minutes left to play. In the 60-minute Antrim’s Roisin McCormick stepped up to take a free to take the match to extra time.
Extra time told the same tale as before, a very tight affair between the two sides. Kerrie Finnegan supplied an excellent ball to Megan Dowdall, who was waiting inside the 13m line, after a bit of a scuffle, Dowdall managed to roll the ball past the TUD defence and keeper, supplying us with the only goal of the game. 80 minutes had now been played with both sides level, the referee choosing to play two extra minutes. The last play of the game saw Kerrie Finnegan charge at the TUD defence, resulting in her winning a free. Antrim’s Roisin McCormick stood up to take the free, guiding it over as cool as you like to score the match-winning point.
@ElectricIreland Camogie Ashbourne Cup Final
Roisin McCormick’s last minute free wins TUD the Ashbourne Cup!@TUDublinCCGAA 1-11@ucc_gaa 0-13
Watch live: https://t.co/Ky0PRFrGdT#FirstClassRivals pic.twitter.com/9xReSKURzg
— Electric Ireland (@ElectricIreland) February 12, 2023
Bill Mc Cormack, manager for TU Dublin believes his side was always capable of succeeding in the Ashbourne Cup and had every belief in their quality. He said
‘‘We have small numbers but the quality we have over quantity is outrageous.’’
‘‘Anyone watching the game could see the work, intensity and discipline that went in. You could use all the superlatives to describe what they put into that shift, that was 80 plus minutes of just pure grit and determination and they deserve every bit of it because they work hard for each other on and off the pitch. They are a great group to work with’’.
Earlier in the day, MTU Cork came out victorious in the Electric Ireland Purcell cup final against the University of Galway, with a scoreline of 2-10 to 0-12. A player of the match performance came from from Cork’s captain Saoirse McCarthy of Courcey Rovers, whose 5 points on the day helped MTU narrowly edge over the line. Galway and Salthill Knocknacarra forward Laura Kelly was the best on the day for the Galway side, scoring an impressive 10 out of the 12 points for her side. Unfortunately, it wouldn't be their day even though Galway keeper Fiona Ryan produced a world-class penalty save from Sorcha McCartan’s shot in the second half.
McCarthy had this to say on what it meant to her personally. ‘‘ This is something that has been planted in my head since I was very young. The last girl to captain CIT, as it was known back then, to the Purcell was actually from my own club as well back in 2016. So I think it's kind of been in my head for a long, long time.
It means an awful lot, especially when your family is here, it lifts everyone up, especially when you haven't won in so long, it's brilliant’’.