On 1st October, 8 teams gathered in Orangeburg, up-state New York for the Young Ireland’s 40th annual 7-a-side camogie tournament. Two teams each from Toronto, Baltimore, and Boston, joined New York and Belgium at the recently developed pitches at the Rockland GAA grounds for a great day of competitive camogie.
Managed for the day by John Kirwan, Ballyboden St. Endas, Dublin, Belgium managed to put their jetlag aside to reach the final against a very impressive Boston A team backboned by the talents of Shelly Walsh, Caroline Hanley, and Sharon O’Brien.
The final was a fantastic game of skilful camogie. Boston got out of the blocks first and raced into a 3 point lead with a strong wind behind them. Despite Lisa Brick dominating in the Boston defence, Belgium struck back with two points, one following an inspirational run from the backline by Elaine Kennedy who exploited the space created for her by Laura Schneebacher. Great defending by Belgium captain Laura Whiskerd alongside Christine O’Gorman dropping back from midfield allowed Boston only two further points before half time.
At the start of the second half Boston stretched their lead with a further point but Belgium were exerting a lot of pressure and were rewarded with an early goal from Irene Kirwan. Boston, with Fiona Gohery and Niamh O’Neill playing well, replied almost straight away with a goal of their own but from the resulting puck out Niamh Kennedy struck over a point to steady the Belgian nerves. Kennedy and Kirwan then proceeded to work the ball well together to engineer 3 further goals between them, with Casey Troy adding a point.
The Boston forwards never gave up but met with great resistance from Katy Hambrook and Maeve McDaid who pulled off the save of the tournament as the clock ticked down. So the intrepid (and broke) Belgium players, who this year have travelled to play camogie in The Hague, Budapest, Zurich, Leuven and New York, added the Helen and John Kerry O’Donnell Cup to the European Championship title won earlier this summer. Congratulations to all involved.
Final score 4.5 to 1.7
Scorers: Belgium – M McDade, E Kennedy, C Troy (0.1 each), I Kirwan 3.1, N Kennedy 1.1.
The Belgium team (and where they are originally from):
Captain - Laura Whiskerd (Wales)
Niamh Kennedy (formerly St. Lachtains, Freshford, Co. Kilkenny)
Elaine Kennedy (Fethard, Tipperary)
Christine O'Gorman (Shannon, Co. Clare)
Laura Schneebacher (New Jersey, USA)
Irene Kirwan (formerly Ballyboden St. Endas, Dublin)
Casey Troy (formerly DC Gaels, Washington)
Katy Hambrook (Toronto, Canada)
Maeve McDade (formerly Ballinascreen, Co. Derry)
Tired bodies and minds then hauled themselves to Gaelic Park on Sunday 2nd October to play an exhibition game before the men's county football final.