Kilanerin girls gel as a unit
Champs reel Cushinstown in after making a slow start
Kilanerin recovered from a slow start to come back and defeat Cushinstown in the Allianz Cumann na mBunscol Rackard League Roinn 'C' girls' football final in St. Patrick's Park on Thursday.
Kilanerin 3-11 Cushinstown 3-6
This was a game of contrasting styles. Cushinstown were by far the taller and stronger team and led the charge with some driving scores through the middle.
Meanwhile, Kilanerin were the very idea of teamwork as they worked together as a unit over the hour and relied on their clever passing to get around the Cushinstown defence.
Cushinstown started with a bang and laid down a big marker for what was to come. Aimee Stafford had a goal and Anna O'Brien added a point within the opening minutes as their team pummelled the Kilanerin defence.
Kilanerin points from Saidhbhe Byrne and Aisling Fitzpatrick steadied the ship momentarily, but once more Cushinstown plundered another goal when the unstoppable Cora McGrath burst through.
A point from Elaine Aspel brought the gap to six and Kilanerin could have lost their way altogether at this stage had goalkeeper Kiva Kinsella not made a number of crucial saves to keep her team's hopes alive.
These stops seemed to rally the Kilanerin girls and nippy wing-forward Bébhinn McDonald scored two points in a row to get the ball rolling for their comeback. Kilanerin began to attack very well and although the Cushinstown defence made it hard to score goals, they did pay the price by giving away scoreable frees.
Aisling Fitzpatrick converted three of these and Bébhínn popped up once more to close the gap further. Aisling then ensured an exciting second period when she goaled just before half-time to put her team in the lead.
The second-half was similar to the first in that Cushinstown started the better again. Two quick points put one score between the teams.
Aisling Fitzpatrick put over another free to keep her team in control before Cushinstown responded with a brilliant Ciara Kirwan point.
The game was on a knife edge and needed someone to step up and take it by the scruff of the neck. This is where midfielder Saidhbhe Byrne put her hand up.
For the remaining 15 minutes she was everywhere. She appeared in her own full-back line several times to sweep up loose ball and then finished a great team move at the other end of the field with a goal, and this put her team four points ahead.
Star centre-forward Róisín Hughes also upped her game and engineered a goal on the break to widen the gap. Further points from Saidhbhe Byrne and Aisling Fitzpatrick opened the lead to nine and it looked like Kilanerin had it in the bag.
No one told Cushinstown this however, and they really gave Kilanerin a fright in the game's final minutes. Cushinstown captain Cora McGrath got her second goal and Elaine Aspel pointed to keep their chase alive.
In additional time, they piled on the pressure and could have got the goal they needed had Kilanerin not settled once more to see out the win.
Kilanerin: Kiva Kinsella, Nessa Last, Ruth Redmond, Caoimhe Fleming, Aisling Fitzpatrick, Róisín McGonigle, Niamh Murphy, Saidhbhe Byrne, Saoirse McDonald, Róisín Hughes, Bébhinn McDonald, Alana Noblett, Caoilinn McNulty, Riadh Murphy, Kate Fortune, Hannah Furlong, Neassa Ní Luasaigh, Aoife O'Dowd, Anna Hughes, Thomasina Carter, Sadhbh Finn, Molly D'Arcy, Ella Jones, Amy Noctor, Emma O'Sullivan, Emma Kelly, Lily Waters, Edie Byrne, Caoimhe Noblett, Caoimhe McGonigle.
Cushinstown: Sophie Quigley, Tara Bookle, Claire McCarthy, Emma Rossiter, Gráinne O'Neill, Ciara Kirwan, Eabha Cullen, Elle Nugent, Elaine Aspel, Anna O'Brien, Cora McGrath, Aimee Stafford, Lilly Somers, Gemma Stafford, Nicole Whitty, Katelyn Johnston, Aoibh Thomas.