Ciara Atkins (Abbey) defends the line
The final battle was lost, but the war is not over and Abbey Community School (Ferrybank) will make a bold bid for All-Ireland honours some time in the future, it was suggested.
Abbey team official, Brendan Cahill (Tullaroan) was disappointed to lose a high class All-Ireland post primary schools junior ‘C’ camogie final replay against talented Borrisokane Community College in Freshford on Saturday, but he was confident Abbey would rise again.
“I feel nothing but huge pride now,” he insisted after a late goal earned Borrisokane the honours.
“Borrisokane are a really strong team. We will go hard on an All-Ireland title with this group before they finish in the school, I would think.”
Abbey, who used 18 players during the match (17 from Kilkenny clubs) found it hard to make gains against a solid Borrisokane defence during the closing half.
Their main scorer, Afton Grace cracked home a terrific goal from a 25 metre free in the 52nd minute after the excellent Caroline Kennedy had been fouled, to breath new life into a dying cause.
When Grace added the next score also, a point from a free, to leave the dividing margin at 1-8 to 2-4 in the 59th minute the prize was there to be won.
However, in their next raid Borrisokane got the lady they would want to on the ball, Laura Shinnors, after it broke kindly for her. Shinnors beat a stumbling Abbey goalie, Aoife Slattery, with a cracking shot from 14 metres on the right.
It was a classy winning score, one fit to decide a contest that was wonderfully engaging from the start of the two hour journey in the final.
“We played well,” Brendan Cahill continued. “The players who were really good for the opposition last week we tightened up on them, but then their next level of players stepped up.
“The player of the match was No. 2 (Bonnie Conroy) who we didn’t pick out as one to really watch.
“In fairness, our girls they stayed at it. They went five points down and they found it hard to score.
“They brought the difference back to a point with a few minutes to go. Then Laura Shinnors, who we tied up all day, got one chance and she put it away.
“Fair play to them, they are a good team and we congratulate them on a great victory,” he continued. “That is how All-Irelands are won. You get a chance and you put it away.
“Our girls have learned big time during this championship. This is Game Nine and to see where they are now against where they started is hard to credit. It is a huge achievement for them to play in a Leinster final and two All-Ireland finals.
“They performed really well in every big game we played. I am very proud of the group. It was my privilege to work with the group. Their attitude is really good. They just never give up.
“That attitude nearly got us there. It nearly brought an All-Ireland to the school. We will work on that. Hopefully this group will bring another title to the school at senior level.”
And then he insisted: “This group won’t fall away.”
There was some confusion before the start while Abbey awaited the arrival of goalie, Aoife Slattery, who was rushing from an international soccer commitment in Dublin.
When she didn’t arrive on time, young Amy Leehane (14), who was only added to the squad during the week, took over in goal and she brought off a very good save from Aoibheann O’Meara early on.
During the opening minutes Áine Slattery (B) and Afton Grace (free) swapped points. Leehane’s saved followed before Borrisokane hit the front with a point from Laura Shinnors (45).
On eight minutes Abbey’s brightest star, Caroline Kennedy, worked her way in from the left at the Threecastles end goal and when she got a shot away from a bad angle, the goalie couldn’t control the arriving high ball. The sliotar fell to ground, and Anna Malone clipped it into the net from close range.
The winners got back level by the 10th minute (1-1 to 0-4), and after both sides added a point it was still level heading into the second quarter.
By this time young Slattery was in goal for the losers, and she dashed off her line in the 17th minute to make a really good block on the threatening O’Meara.
During the closing five minutes of the half Abbey lost scores to Áine Slattery, a wonderful point from 60 metres, and Laura Leenane (1-1) to fall 1-2 to 1-7 behind at the break.
A mere two points, equally divided, were added during the next 21 minutes of play, but such was the level of effort and exciting incidents fans didn’t appear to notice the lack of scores.
Borrisokane were going really well, however, with young Conroy unbeatable at corner-back; full-back Katie Costello, Aine Slattery and Laura Ryan were very strong too. Then, of course, there was always the threat of Shinnors, who was policed well.
For Abbey, Kennedy was terrific, while Ciara Atkins was really, really good at corner-back. Laura Mulcair, Una Kinsella, Grace and Jane Rochford did everything in their power to tilt the balance in their team's favour.
Just like in the drawn final, Abbey had a clear view of the title with minutes remaining, but the deadly Laura Shinnors destroyed the bid for what would have been a first All-Ireland win.
SCORERS: Borrisokane CC - Laura Shinnors (1-3, two points frees, one 45): Laura Leenane (1-1); Áine Slattery (0-3, one free); Louise Torpey (0-1). Abbey CC - Afton Grace (1-4, 1-2 frees, point 45); Anna Malone (1-0).
Borrisokane CC - Ella Carey; Bonnie Conroy, Katie Costello, Aoife Sullivan; Ali Mulcahy, Mags Quigley (capt), Mickela McGrath; Laura Ryan, Sophie O'Neill Reidy; Áine Slattery, Laura Leenane, Louise Torpey; Aoibheann O'Meara, Sarah Leenane, Laura Shinnors. Subs: Rachel Hannigan for O'Meara; Catherine Tighe for Torpey.
Abbey CC - Amy Leehane (Mooncoin); Katie Sheridan (Kilmacow), Áine Phelan (Kilmacow), Ciara Atkins (Slieverue); Hannah Lacey (Kilmacow), Laura Mulcair (Slieverue), Katie Larrissey (Kilmacow); Caroline Kennedy, capt (Slieverue), Una Kinsella (Kilmacow); Danielle Mate Maher (Kilmacow), Jane Rochford (Slieverue), Afton Grace (Kilmacow); Ellen Kennedy (Slieverue), Emma Hewetson (Mooncoin), Anna Malone (Mullinavat). Subs - Aoife Slattery for A. Leehane; Róisín Guthrie (Mooncoin) for Kennedy; Eimear Larkin (Ferrybank) for Malone.
Referee - Liz Dempsey (Thomastown).