FOR a minute, it looked as though Fullen Gaels had finally wrestled away Tara’s grip on the All-Britain Camogie Championship.
Claire Ryan had other ideas though and three clutch frees at the end of a frenetic final secured yet another provincial title for the London club.
Sinéad Convery’s goal in the closing minutes looked to have sealed a landmark win for the Manchester club but it was the Galway wing-forward who turned the tables with two superb long range frees after bringing the teams level with a close-range set piece.
Played in testing conditions at Pairc na hÉireann on Saturday, May 15, chances remained at a premium throughout the afternoon but it was the challengers who opened the scoring with a score from captain Katie McMahon.
Ariane Purcell needed to be alert at the other end to repel a dropping Tara effort on her goal but moments later the champions struck their opener through full-forward Fiona Morrissey.
Sarah Fahy led the charge all game for Fullen Gaels and the Cork midfielder restored her side’s lead with a free before a dangerous dropping ball in the Tara goalmouth was clinically mopped up by Aoife Flynn.
Fahy made it a two-point lead with her second free of the half, before Helen Murphy was called upon in the Tara goal to deal with another teasing ball bouncing in front of goal. Tara were trying to gain a foothold at the other end and were unlucky to strike a post through a Morrissey effort, although captain Tessa Crowley followed up moments later to send an effort over the bar.
Tara grew in strength at the end of the first-half to hit the front through points by Nessa Dolan and Morrisey once again, the Limerick full-forward cutting in from the left to smartly lob over the bar from a narrow angle.
The Tara lead was wiped out at the start of the second-half by Sinead Tuohy but just as Fullen Gaels looked for a leading score they were stung by a Ryan free which evaded all challengers to nestle into the back of the net.
Needing a response, Fullen Gaels found one once more through a Fahy free but Ryan matched her counterpart with another set piece score to maintain Tara’s three-point advantage.
With the weather continuing to have an impact on the final, the challengers hit back with a superb flick over the bar by Convery from a Rachel O’Toole cross pass. With the game on a knife-edge, Fullen Gaels struck gold when Convery found a yard of space in front of the Tara goal to lob Murphy and edge the Lancashire side back into the lead.
Yet Ryan’s intervention at the very end of the game exemplified Tara’s championship pedigree, their finishing flourishes in both halves ultimately proving the difference as they retained their All-Britain title.
Tara: H Murphy; C Flynn, L Hawkes, A Flynn; C Enright, L Connolly, A O’Meara; T Crowley (0-1), A Carroll; N Dolan (0-1), M Buckley, C Ryan (1-5, 5f); P Dunne, F Morrissey (0-2), S Glynn.
Fullen Gaels: A Purcell; L McCarthy, C Mannion, T McElvaney; E Ennis, AM Guinan, F Chawke; S Fahy (0-4, 3f), R O’Toole; M Buckley, K McMahon (0-1), D Powell; S Tuohy (0-1), E Murphy, S Convery (1-1).
Referee: K Magee