Controversy to champions: UL’s Ashbourne win

UL Squad that won the Ashbourne Cup. Photo: @ul_gaa on X.

The UL camogie team won their eleventh Ashbourne Cup in February, their first since 2020.

Cast your minds back to February 2023 when UL were knocked out before the semi-finals in controversial circumstances.

They went into their final group game against Maynooth, knowing they needed to win by 33 points to progress. They won by 34.

However, an error in a previous result involving DCU meant that the win was not enough to progress to the Ashbourne semi-finals weekend, and DCU took their place.

This year, however, nothing was going to stand in their way.

After a relatively comfortable route to the semi-final weekend in the Connacht GAA Air Dome, they beat UCC by 0-16 to 0-14 to set up a final against defending champions TU Dublin the following day.

The team produced an outstanding performance, winning by 6-11 to 1-12. Tipperary native Eimear McGrath scored 2-3, Waterford’s Mairéad O’Brien hit 2-1 while Casey Hennessy and Susie Delaney also goaled.

Only one player on the panel, Limerick’s Caoimhe Lyons, had previously won the Ashbourne Cup. Now, every member of the panel has reached the peak of college camogie.

“It is a massive achievement,” joint manager Dinny Ferncombe said.

Declan Nash, who manages the side alongside Ferncombe, added: “The group of players united and played for each other and wanted to win for each other. This group has those qualities in abundance.”

To produce impressive camogie performances alongside assignments and the completion of final-year projects shows their willingness to win.

“It is top class. It is surreal. I don’t think people on the outside realise the work that they actually put in,” Ferncombe added.

However, they were fully focused on getting to this year’s finals weekend and winning the cup.

“We made a pact at the start of the year that we were not going to dwell on last year. We put it to bed very early,” Ferncombe said.

“We had 20 players from this year’s panel that went to UCD last year, extremely disappointed that they were not on the pitch. I know for them personally, that was a driving factor to prepare properly for this year … The Ashbourne Cup is their just reward this year.” he added.

An eleventh title for the Limerick university maintains their position as the fourth most decorated side in the competition’s history since its introduction in 1915.

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