Inspired by former Irish international, Catriona Carey, Kilkenny won the Electric Ireland Irish Hockey Challenge title in style with a commanding 4-0 win over Dungarvan at the National Hockey Stadium.
Carey struck two beautifully crisp first half goals to help her side build up a 3-0 lead that they never looked likely to relinquish.
Kilkenny hit the front in the 13th minute when Sue Shirley tore into the circle from her own five-metre free and unleashed a cracking strike for an early lead. Carey was causing plenty of problems and drew a stunning high save from Lucinda Shrubb, but the goalkeeper was powerless to stop her next salvo.
From mid-circle, Carey drilled a shot into the bottom right corner with a reverse that fizzed into the backboard. She battered in her second in the 34th minute for an imposing interval advantage.
In between that pair, Dungarvan’s Sharon Duggan had her side’s best chance to pull one back when she raced on to a through-ball. Her first touch took her past goalkeeper Searlait Doyle at the edge of the circle, but she ended up too wide, allowing Doyle to get back and clear the shot at the post.
Skipper and defensive lynch-pin Lynn Darling duly hit home a penalty corner early in the second half. Dungarvan held out for the remainder of the tie in the face of waves of attacks and a series of penalty corners with Shrubb heroic despite picking up a nasty injury that required lengthy treatment.
But it was Kilkenny’s day as they bounced back from 2012 final defeat to claim the title for the first time.
Kilkenny - S. Doyle, C. Carey, A. Walpole, L. Darling, B. Cadogan, C. Phelan, S. Shirley, A. McGarry, D. Young, L. Thomas, A. O’Connor. Subs - L. Dooley, L. Hennessy, N. Spratt, K. Parsons, E. Keane.
Managers - Jenny Wallace and Emma Ryan. Coach - Emmet Hughes.