Celebrations of their Irish Cup hockey were short for members of the Kilkenny ladies hockey team, who lined out days later in another do-or-die contest, this time playing the South East Cup final against arch rivals Wexford.
Having lost the South East league title to the same Wexford team just weeks earlier in a play-off, Kilkenny were determined to keep the good times rolling and that the ’Cup would be theirs. As usual, a high paced, intense game ensued with all players eager to better the opposition. The Cats won 2-1.
Wexford looked to be doing well at the start when they ran at the Kilkenny defence, keeping goalkeeper Searlait Doyle busy and on her toes. However, defenders Ally O’Connor, Lynn Darling, Debbie Young and Anna Walpole worked hard, kept their composure and gradually gained the upper hand.
Kilkenny drove forward and threatened the Wexford goal on a few occasions only for the last line of defence to keep them out. There was no score after 35 hectic minutes of sustained action.
It wasn’t long, however, until the Kilkenny told. They got their rewards, a goal. On the restart, Kilkenny took control of the ball in all areas of the field and they had the Wexford defence with their backs to the wall.
After a series of attacks, Kilkenny were awarded a short corner. With a quick run and pass from Catriona Carey, team captain Lynn Darling pinned the ball into the corner of the Wexford goal.
The Model County girls were knocked back, but they were not willing to give up the fight. They made a number of positional changes which saw them leave two forwards high up the field waiting for a through ball.
With 10 minutes left, this daring if risky tactic paid off. Against the run of play, Wexford broke into the Kilkenny circle and were awarded a short corner for a disputed foul. After a series of short passes they managed to squeeze a goal in and the game looked set for extra-time.
With the clock ticking down, Kilkenny regained possession. They kept their composure on the ball and with some lovely inter-play between Brona Cadogan, Clair Phelan, Susan Shirley and Laura Hennessy they broke into the oppositions circle. Wexford fouled. Kilkenny were awarded a short corner free and the umpire then blew the final whistle.
It was a case of score to win, or go to extra-time. Supporters of both sides were almost afraid to look!
Having already scored from a short corner, the Kilkenny attack chose to replay the same attacking drill and with utter confidence in each others skills, they pulled off the most dramatic of finishes to a game in a long while.
Team captain Lynn Darling again finished perfectly, striking a great goal! The South East Cup was Kilkenny’s. There was no time for Wexford to respond. It was off to Matt the Millers (team sponsors) for a belated good celebrations for the double cup champions from Kilkenny.
Kilkenny - Searlait Doyle, Anna Walpole, Lynn Darling, Debbie Young, Ally O’Connor, Brona Cadogan, Clair Phelan, Sue Shirley, Alice McGarry, Lauren Thomas, Lucy Dooley, Laura Hennessy, Edwina Keane, Emma Ryan
Coach - Emmet Hughes.