The Kilkenny hurling and camogie teams enjoyed great success at the weekend, and the lady Gaelic footballers weren’t to be outdone. For the second year in-a-row Kilkenny claimed a Leinster title when they won the under-16 Division 2B title with a well deserved win over Louth on Saturday.
They began the Leinster campaign in March with a big win over Longford and followed with a 16 point win over Louth. There was a late scare against neighbours Carlow in round three, but Kilkenny recorded a one point win before losing to Offaly and Wexford.
Three wins secured a place in the ‘B’ final. Despite being without the influential Jennifer and Ally O’Keeffe, Kilkenny entered the final as favourites. Played in ideal conditions at Sarsfields in Newbridge, Kilkenny had the perfect start with points from Ciara Delaney and Blathnaid Galway.
Ria Lawson scored a delightful point and Ciara Delaney tapped over twice in the space of a minute to put Kilkenny 0-5 up after 12 minutes. Ailish O’Shea, Rebecca Brennan and Lauren Valentine were rock solid in the winners defence with Niamh Sheehy in goal denying Louth on three occasions with superb stops.
Ciara Nolan opened Louth’s account with a point before Becky Walsh made it 0-6 to 0-1. Aoife Russell pointed twice for Louth but sharpshooter Ciara Delaney cut short the fight back with two pointed frees before claiming a well taken goal.
Lauren Valentine robbed an opponent of possession and raced out of defence before sending a long clearance to Ria Lawson. Spotting Ciara Delaney close to goal, Lawson lobbed the ball over the Louth defence for Delaney to rattle the net (1-8 to 0-3).
Thomastown duo Blathnaid Galway and Ruby Harvey were dictating matters at midfield while the half back line of Maeve Delaney, Aobha O’Gorman and Jenny McGuinness moved the ball at a pace. Ciara Eccles and Emma McArdle looked dangerous up front for Louth and grabbed points before Ciara Delaney scored her fifth on the stroke of half time giving Kilkenny a 1-9 to 0-5 lead.
Louth were right back in it on 35 minutes when Emma McArdle netted. She added a point to leave three between the sides. Rebecca Brennan smothered another Louth attack and Niamh Sheehy’s massive clearance relieved the pressure for Kilkenny.
A quickly taken free by Ciara Delaney found Becky Walsh, who fed the Emily McCarthy and the Piltown girl calmly slotted a low ball past the ’keeper to put Kilkenny 2-9 to 1-6 ahead. Aoife Naddy fielded the kick-out superbly and sent an inch perfect pass to Ciara Delaney for the city sharpshooter to give Kilkenny a seven point lead.
With time ticking away Kilkenny took the foot off the gas and Aoife Russell grabbed two late goals for Louth but the Cats had the final say when Hannah Scott tapped over her second point to win by 4-15 to 3-6 win.
Lauren Valentine was presented with the Division 2 Shield by Leinster President Marie Hickey. Ciara Delaney won the Player of the Match award after scoring a superb 1-8.
This was Kilkenny’s third under-16 win in four years. With many of the girls playing in the under-16 and 18 Carlow/Kilkenny league, things are looking good for the future.
The under-14s play the Leinster 2C final against Carlow on June 14.
Scorers: Kilkenny - Ciara Delaney (1-8, 0-2 frees); Emily McCarthy (2-2); Becky Walsh (1-1); Hannah Scott (0-2); Ria Lawson, Blathnaid Galway (0-1 each).
Team - Niamh Sheehy (Thomastown), Ailish O’Shea (Thomastown), Rebecca Brennan (Erin’s Own), Lauren Valentine (City), Maeve Delaney (Erin’s Own), Aobha O’Gorman (City), Jenny McGuinness (Thomastown), Blathnaid Galway (Thomastown), Ruby Harvey (Thomastown), Becky Walsh (Thomastown), Hannah Scott (City), Aoife Naddy (Thomastown), Ria Lawson (Thomastown), Emily McCarthy (Piltown), Ciara Delaney (City). Subs - Neasa Galwey (City), Andi Snyder (City), Hannah Moran (Barrow Gaels), Brianna Mallon (City), Beth Behan (City), Sinead Fitzpatrick (Three Friars), Grace Kent (Three Friars), Carolyn Howes (City), Denise Byrne (Barrow Gaels), Laura Tynan (City), Saoirse Comerford (City), Nicole Byrnes (John Lockes), Aine Murphy (Muckalee), Jennifer O’Keeffe (City), Ally O’Keeffe (City).