THE Loreto Secondary School made good on their second shot of creating camogie history, becoming the first school to win three consecutive All-Irelands at two levels when their juniors out-fought a brave Presentation side.
Denied the title by a last-ditch Mary O’Connell goal in the drawn game a week earlier, the Loreto were too good for their cross-city rivals at the second attempt in this junior All-Ireland camogie final replay. Played in perfect Spring conditions in Clara on Saturday, the Loreto’s fine goal haul proved vital to their success.
The girls from the Granges Road were in control of the scoreboard and led by 2-6 to 0-3 at the break, their first half goals coming from the deadly Dicksboro duo of Eva Maher and Jenny Clifford.
A strong run from Loreto captain Ciara Byrne set up Eva Maher, who struck to the bottom left hand corner in the 21st minute. Six minutes later, they reinforced their commanding advantage.
Jenny Clifford reacted quickest to a slack puck-out, grabbing possession and ghosting through the Pres defence unopposed. Clifford’s attempted hand-pass was intended for Megan Walsh but didn’t reach its destination. Instead, the sliotar skipped along the surface, bouncing past the Pres goalkeeper - with that, the Loreto were on their way.
The next goal was always going to be decisive, and so it proved in the 36th minute when a long range free from the brilliant Sarah Kent dropped some 25 metres from goal. The outstanding Megan Walsh was on it in a flash, whipping and unstoppable ground shot all the way to the net (3-6 to 0-5).
Chasing a 10-point gap, things looked grim for the Pres. Gamely they tried their utmost to get into the decider, but couldn’t get the goal their efforts deserved.
The excellent Mary O’Connell tried to lead the revival for her side, but it wasn’t to be. The Clara under-16 inter-county player pointed from a free and a 45 to narrow the deficit, but Loreto replied with points in quick succession from Megan Walsh and Jenny Clifford around the 50th minute mark.
Roisin Breen added a fourth goal as the winners finished on a high. O’Connell and Sarah Kent traded pointed frees to close out the scoring, but the Loreto’s coronation had long been confirmed by then.
While goals can win games a big key to Loreto’s victory was their strength in defence. Sarah Kent was exceptional at centre-back, Danielle Kenny defended superbly from the edge of the square, while Lauren Dermody impressed at corner-back.
Their forwards also posed plenty of problems. Jenny Clifford was a central figure, with Eva Maher posing a constant threat but Mary Walsh was the outstanding player up front.
The Pres had their star performers also.
Mary O’Connell gave another magnificent display of lion-hearted determination, while in the full-back line Roisin Walsh had a superb second-half. Team captain Deirdre Phelan also excelled over the hour.
As well as completing their historical Junior and senior colleges All-Ireland hat-trick, Saturday’s win was the Loreto’s fourth consecutive junior colleges Roinn A title. It was also their fifth in six years since making the breakthrough back in 2007 when they beat Portumna Community School by 0-7 to 0-5, a result which sparked the beginning of a golden era of glory for the Kilkenny school.
SCORERS: Loreto - Roisin Breen (1-3, 0-3 frees); Megan Walsh, Jenny Clifford (1-2 each); Eva Maher (1-1); Sarah Kent (0-1, free). Presentation - Mary O’Connell (0-6, 0-3 frees, 0-1 45); Michaela Kenneally (0-1, free); Jenny O’Neill (0-1).
Loreto - Kirsty Maher (Dicksboro), Lauren Dermody (Lisdowney), Danielle Kenny (Dicksboro), Anna Brennan (Lisdowney), Ciara Phelan (Emeralds), Sarah Kent (Danesfort), Laura Murphy (O’Loughlin Gaels), Laura Greene (O’Loughlin Gaels), Sarah Lanigan (St Lachtain’s), Clodagh Power (St Lachtain’s), Ciara Byrne (Clara, capt), Jenny Clifford (Dicksboro), Megan Walsh (Danesfort), Roisin Breen (Paulstown), Eva Maher (Dicksboro).
Presentation - Aoife Walsh (Danesfort), Roisin Walsh (Danesfort), Rachel Phelan (Danesfort, capt), Aoife Brassil (James Stephens), Sarah Walsh (Thomastown), Eimear Corr (Thomastown), Jackie Rainey (James Stephens), Alice Talbot (Piltown), Mary O’Connell (Clara), Orlaith Conlon (James Stephens), Ciara O’Dwyer (James Stephens), Jenny O’Neill (Danesfort), Aoife Farrell (Thomastown), Michaela Kenneally (Windgap), Ciara Murphy (St Brigid’s). Sub: Hannah Corcoran (St Lachtain’s).
Referee - Alan Lagrue (Kildare).