Dunne's debut a brilliant start
DUBLIN'S minor camogie team produced a storming second-half performance to eventually overcome Offaly by 2-13 to 1-7 in their Leinster Minor Camogie Championship semi-final at St Brendan's, Birr on Sunday afternoon.
The Dubs's reward is a Leinster Final against Kilkenny next Saturday and there was much to admire in the manner they seized control after the break to comfortably prevail by nine points.
This was very much a team performance by the Dubs with all the players used making handsome contributions throughout, starting with goalkeeper Aisling Spillane, who was a commanding presence between the sticks.
The full-back line of Karen Neylon, Deirdre Johnston and Sarah Flynn deserve huge praise for their dogged defending, with Johnston blocking a 45th-minute Offaly penalty to ensure the Faithful County had no way back into the game.
The back six were instrumental in Dublin's victory, conceding only 1-1 from play over the hour and much of the credit goes to their dominant half-back line of Grainne Smith, Lizzie McSweeney and Ellen Keatley.
Dublin made a bright start and were six points ahead by the 20th minute with Aoife Bugler striking a crucial first-half goal while Ciara Berkeley and Ali Twomey tagged on points to gain reward for their side's dominance.
However, a sloppy end to the half allowed the hosts to reduce their deficit with Dublin enjoying a narrow 1-6 to 1-5 interval lead.
Driven on by the excellent Aoife Kelly in midfield, Dublin regained their position of ascendancy with Berkeley in immaculate form from play and placed balls, amassing 0-7 in total, while scores from Aisling Carolan, Kelly, Twomey and substitute Clodagh McGough gave Dublin some much needed breathing space.
There was also the sensational debut of Mikela Dunne, whose second-half goal clinched Dublin's final berth, much to the delight of team mentor Sandra Tarr.
"We were delighted with how the girls played, especially in the second half. It has been a tough year regarding getting all the panel available to us but we have quite a number coming back next week so that's another positive as far as I'm concerned".
Na Fianna's Tarr, who manages the side alongside Colm Berkeley, Gerry McGough, Pat Clinton and Brendan Cooper with Dave Dunning responsible for fitness training, is anticipating an intriguing clash with the Cats next weekend.
"There is a bit of revenge on the agenda as we lost the Leinster Final to Kilkenny after a replay last year although we did make history by winning the U16 provincial title last year and we have a fair few girls involved from that side.
"Saturday should see us with close to a full panel for the first time all year so there'll be some selection headaches ahead of us during the week.
"Mind you, that's not a bad problem to have", concluded mentor, Tarr.