Fab four win for the Loreto!

Loreto Kilkenny1-11

Loreto Kilkenny1-11

St Brigid’s Loughrea1-6

REIGNING champions Loreto Kilkenny staved off a stiff challenge to secure their deserved four in a row clutch of titles following a teak-tough battle at a blustery MacDonagh Park, Nenagh on Saturday.

Backboned by the hugely impressive Miriam Walsh at centre-back, the Kilkenny girls proved too strong throughout despite the best a gallant St Brigid’s of Loughrea could muster.

Playing into the teeth of a stiff breeze, the Loreto were quickly out of the blocks with an early close-range free from full-forward Orla Hanrick. The Galway school’s response was immediate though, thanks to successive points from Rachel Monaghan and Patricia Manning.

Paulstown’s Roisin Breen brought Loreto back on terms with a well-struck second point before the pacy Marie Doheny imposed herself on proceedings, successive points from the Graigue-Ballycallan girl opening up a two-point gap with just 15 minutes elapsed.

Struggled

As Brigid’s struggled to cope with the pace of Loreto’s attack the Kilkenny girls added to their tally. Ace markswoman Hanrick saw to that, tacking on close range frees in the 27th and 29th minutes.

The Loreto led by 0-6 to 0-2 at the break but despite having the elements in their favour for the second half they struggled to pull clear of a dogged St Brigid’s side.

Brigid’s centre-back Maria Cooney did all in her power to propel her side forward. They quickly cut the gap to two with successive Rachel Monaghan frees within five minutes of the re-start.

Monaghan again raided in the 45th minute but this time she broke through the Loreto cover to net her side’s only goal and bring Brigid’s back on terms.

Melting pot

With the game well and truly in the melting pot, the Loreto girls drew on all their guile and past finals experience to gain a firm grip on proceedings. The Kilkenny girls responded with a 50th minute point from Orla Hanrick, the full-forward taking a point from a penalty after she was pulled down by full-back Niamh Murphy.

Settled by that score, the Loreto went looking for more. Captain Miriam Walsh duly obliged, surging up from centre-back to send over a long range rallying point for the Kilkenny school.

Credit to Brigid’s they battled to get back on terms as time ticked away but Loreto pounced on the counter-attack with 60 seconds of normal time left. A sweeping break involving Jenny Clifford and Laura Greene put captain Lydia Fitzpatrick through on goal. She made no mistake, rifling the sliotar to the net to copperfasten a famous victory for the Loreto.

Loreto impressed throughout and displayed the true mark of champions when the game appeared to be slipping away from them following the levelling goal from St Brigid’s. Centre-back and Player of the Match Miriam Walsh was the fulcrum around which the impressive Loreto defence revolved while Niamh Leahy and Laura Greene battled hard at midfield.

In attack, the pace of Marie Doheny and Jenny Clifford unnerved the Brigid’s defence while Lydia Fitzpatrick, Roisin Breen, Orla Hanrick and Ciara Byrne all battled hard for each other.

SCORERS: Loreto Kilkenny - Orla Hanrick (0-5, 0-4 frees, 0-1 pen); Lydia Fitzpatrick (1-0); Miriam Walsh, Marie Doheny (0-2 each); Roisin Breen, Jenny Clifford (0-1 each). St Brigid’s Loughrea - Rachel Monaghan (1-4, 0-3 frees); Maria Cooney (0-1, 45); Patricia Manning (0-1).

Loreto Kilkenny - Kirsty Maher, Katie Doheny, Rachel Lynch, Sarah Kent, Kate Holland, Miriam Walsh, Laura Murphy, Niamh Leahy, Laura Greene, Marie Doheny, Lydia Fitzpatrick, Jenny Clifford, Roisin Breen, Orla Hanrick, Amy Bryan. Subs: Ciara Byrne for Kenny, 41 mins; Fionnuala Quinlan for Breen, 60 mins.

St Brigid’s VS Loughrea - Tara Murphy, Shauna Coen, Niamh Murphy, Laura Sweeney, Laura Porter, Maria Cooney, Maria O’Brien, Linda Porter, Erica Coen, Aisling Connolly, Lorraine Farrell, Kate Gallagher, Patricia Manning, Rachel Monaghan, Aoibhinn Kenny. Sub: Jessica Deeley for Connolly, 22 mins.

Referee - Mike O’Kelly (Cork).