A storming second half display from Sean Fleming’s Waterford side at Nowlan Park on Saturday last earned his young charges a remarkable passage to next month’s Intermediate All-Ireland Camogie Final.
Trailing by eight points at half-time and by nine after 33 minutes, one feared feared for Waterford’s chances, as another exit at the semi-final stage looked on the cards.
However, a tremendous display of character, demonstrating a never say die attitude, the Deise struck three second half goals to complete an amazing comeback and edge past Meath by a single point.
All the early running was made by the Royal County who settled into the game with much greater haste than their opponents.
Meath operated with Cheyenne O’Brien, listed at centre-forward, sweeping in front of her full-back line while Jane Dolan and Megan Thynne formed a two player full-forward line.
These moves resulted in St Anne’s Jennie Simpson filling the ‘Tadhg de Búrca role’ at the other end of the field for Waterford.
Jane Dolan and Aoife Minogue with a point apiece had the Royals on the board before Trish Jackman pointed a free for Waterford in the eighth minute.
A minute later, a long free from Meath centre-back Kristina Troy was gathered by Jane Dolan who calmly finished to the net to leave the Royals 1-2 to 0-1 ahead.
However, a point from Jennie Simpson and two from Trish Jackman left Waterford just a point behind at the end of the first quarter.
Jane Dolan, who was causing all sorts of problems for the Déise defence, had the net shaking again after 24 minutes – after Meagan Thynne produced a fine assist.
Sixty seconds later, things went from bad to worse for Waterford. A long range effort from Edel Guy was fumbled by Deise goalkeeper Deirdre Brennan, with Megan Thynne on hand to finish to the net from close range to send Meath 3-2 to 0-4 ahead.
Not for the first time, Trish Jackman seemed to be everywhere; popping up to score her fourth point of the half and Waterford’s fifth in total.
Meath continued to make light of their underdogs tag and two more Jane Dolan points in injury time had her side leading 3-4 to 0-5 at the break. Game, set and match for Meath?
At the interval, Sean Fleming rang the changes at half time with Shona Curran and Becky Kavanagh being introduced and Jennie Simpson switching from centre back to centre forward. Waterford looked a transformed side on the change over but they needed goals to get back in contention – and they duly arrived.
After 41 minutes, Aisling Power placed substitute Shona Curran clear to shoot high into the net to leave Waterford trailing by 3-6 to 1-8.
Four minutes later, a long range free from Jackman broke in front of the square to Aisling Power who shot through a forest of players and into the back of the Meath net to leave Port Láirge just a point down.
Trish Jackman then pointed a free from the sideline to bring the sides level for the first time, mich to the delight of the travelling Waterfors support.
After 48 minutes, Beth Carton now operating at full-forward, picked the ball on the run from 30 metres, outpaced the cover before shooting low to the net to put Waterford into the lead in dramatic fashion (3-9 to 3-6).
Aoife Minogue responded with a point from a free for Meath before Carton restored her sides’ three-point advantage after 57 minutes.
Jane Dolan responded with a brace of points for Meath to reduce the difference to a single point as the game entered injury time.
Waterford had to endure six minutes of injury time, but the defence held firm to seal a single point victory, in what must surely rank as one of Deise Camogie’s greatest days. Name on the cup?
In terms of top performers, Trish Jackman was outstanding throughout, producing yet another tour de force.
Substitute Shona Curran, along with strong second half showings from Lorraine Bray, Aisling Power, Catriona McGlone and Beth Carton all contributed significantly to the victory.
Waterford will now play Kildare on Sundaym September 13th in the All-Ireland Final at Croke Park, seeking to add the ultimate prize to their National League success. Great days indeed as the Deise prepare for their first ever Final at this grade.