A CRUEL hand of fate for the Dubs in Athy on Sunday. They were a breath away from the All-Ireland U16A Championship final.
They led Kilkenny by a goal. The game was two minutes into injury time. Kilkenny were camped around the Dublin kitchen. Bodies everywhere. Like the morning after a sleep-over.
Jenny Clifford got hold of the sliotar and, amid the heavy traffic, she calmly palmed it over all the heads and into the basket. Draw. Dublin 4-8; Kilkenny 3-11.
The replay will be worth watching. This was a match for the ages. All ages. As Dublin mentor, Paul Beecher, remarked: "It was as good a game of camogie as you'd see."
The decent-sized crowd provided a lively atmosphere. The Athy home is a fine, spacious venue. A big, covered stand runs the length of one touchline, with seats at the front and plenty of standing room at the back.
There was a cross-field breeze. The grass had grown a couple of inches. The sky was grey but no rain fell.
Instead, the scoring resembled a waterfall. A pity the scoreboard wasn't in use. The arithmetic quality of the audience was tested time and again. Everybody was double-checking the score with each other.
There was a little shop at the back of the stand selling all kinds of goodies. Dublin reaching an All-Ireland final would taste very sweet indeed.
And they still have every chance. They played with such spirit and courage. Their fitness was impressive. The Dublin defender, Philly McMahon, did all their strength and conditioning. It showed.
Dublin defended with gusto. Even the forwards were to be seen coming deep helping to empty the dishwasher.
"In a way, it was a game of two halves," summed up Paul Beecher, managing the Blues with Eimear Butler and Stephen Hoary.
"We dominated the second half. We'd have to say we were unlucky to concede that goal two minutes into injury-time. That was a real killer.
"Yet, in saying that, we were delighted with the performance of the girls. They left nothing out there. The effort they put in was fantastic. They worked so hard when we hadn't got the ball. We couldn't have asked for more. They played their hearts out, and we'll regroup now for the replay this weekend."
They were level five times. Kilkenny, attacking the clubhouse end, had the lead at the interval, 2-7 to 1-5.
It was Dublin who scored the opening goal on three minutes when Orla Beagan's blaster rattled the cobwebs after her own free had struck the frame and Kirsty Maher had saved Aisling O'Leary's rebound.
Two goals in four minutes from Edel Coonan put the Cats into the ascendancy, the first of them coming on 20 minutes.
Dublin hit the last three scores of the half and they struck for two crucial goals within nine minutes of the restart through O'Leary and Aoife Molloy.
And seven minutes from time they were four points to the good when excellent work by Eve Keogh out on the right eventually saw Tara O'Flaherty nudge the ball across the line -- 4-8 to 2-10.
Mary O'Gorman then converted a free for Kilkenny before Clifford's Hand of God ensured another day out. No losers here. Camogie was the big winner.
DUBLIN: F McCarthy (St Jude's); M Cronin (St Vincent's), N Byrne (Lucan Sarsfields), B McQuillan (Na Fianna); A Woods (St Vincent's), A Courtney (Lucan Sarsfields), H Geraty (St Jude's); L Mullins (Castleknock), D Mullany (Ballyboden St Enda's, 0-1); O Beagan (Lucan Sarsfields, 1-3, 0-2f), A Molloy (St Jude's,1-1), E Keogh (Skerries Harps, 0-1); M O'Donoghue (Ballyboden St Enda's, 0-1), A O'Leary (Ballyboden St Enda's, 1-0), A O'Neill (St Vincent's, 0-1). Sub used: T O'Flaherty (Skerries Harps, 1-0).
KILKENNY: K Maher (Dicksboro); S Walsh (Thomastown), D Walsh (Mooncoin), M Bambrick (Paulstown/Goresbridge); A Gannon (Rower Inistioge), M O'Connell (Clara, 0-3, 3f), R Breen (Paulstown/ Goresbridge); M Corcoran (St Anne's), A Talbot (Piltown); K Nolan (St Martin's, 0-2, 2f), M Kenneally (Windgap, 0-1), J Clifford (Dicksboro, 1-2); E Donnelly (Thomastown), S Whelan (St Anne's, 0-1), E Coonan (St Martin's, 2-2). Subs used: C Purcell (St Anne's), C Byrne (Clara), L Murphy (O'Loughlin Gaels), M Walsh (Danesfort), R Phelan (Danesfort).
REF: A O'Brien (Wexford).