A monumental first-half performance from Loreto Secondary School gave them a memorable victory in the Leinster Schools ladies' football Junior 'B' championship final at Geraldine Park, Athy, on Monday of last week.
Loreto (Wexford) 3-13 Moate C.C. 1-5
The Wexford school dominated from the off, mixing an attractive style of football centred around penetrative, long balls into the two Bennetts in the full-forward line with simply giving possession to Emily Coakley and letting her do damage time after time.
St. Fintan's starlet Coakley picked up the Leinster young player of the year award at the end of last season, but Moate management seemed oblivious to the talents of the Loreto centre-forward as they scrambled to react to her devastating display.
Coakley ended with 3-7, of which 3-4 came from play, and she added to her recent run of picking up individual awards by claiming the 'player of the match' trophy at the end of an energy-sapping 60 minutes.
While Coakley was excellent, she had plenty of help around her. The other five starting forwards all contributed to a display that must make the Wexford school the favourites to claim the All-Ireland crown.
In midfield, Loreto missed Emma Cousins but Aisling Gouldson and Julia Dempsey ably deputised. The backs allowed just two scores from play in an exhibition of how to defend as a team, while Sally Walker in goal was excellent when called upon.
If there wasn't enough evidence in the fast-paced, intelligent warm-ups that Loreto weren't going to be a step above their opponents, it was pretty clear in the opening quarter as the Slaneysiders blitzed the Westmeath school.
Coakley pointed after Gouldson was fouled in the opening minute before Aoife Dwyer and Anne Marie Bennett combined to release the deadly attacker for the drilled first goal. Moate responded with a brace of points but would only add one more in the half.
At the other end Coakley went close to a second goal but the disappointment didn't last long as two more points were followed by her second goal after Anne Marie Bennett supplied the perfect handpass to release her team-mate into the clear.
When Coakley added another point her side led by 2-4 to 0-3 after 18 minutes. Caoimhe Neville assisted a Gouldson point that somehow bounced off the soft ground, over the Moate crossbar.
Ashling Alouf and Rachel Bennett combined to free the lively Emma Codd for her first point before Coakley added a fifth minor. Her hat-trick was completed with another cool finish five minutes before the interval, but there was still enough time for a minor hiccup or two.
Firstly Aisling Halligan picked up an extremely questionable sin-binning before Tara Hughes won her side a soft penalty. Sadbh McCarthy went in goal for the Hughes spot-kick and made a fine save low to her left (3-7 to 0-3 at half-time).
Loreto added a classy point from Anne Marie Bennett early in the second period after Niamh Dunne won a ball she had no right to get hold of in defence. When Coakley pointed again it looked like Loreto might just survive their numerical disadvantage intact.
However, just as Halligan was getting ready to come back on, Hughes dropped a ball in around the square and Chloe Butler forced the ball over the Wexford goal-line.
Coakley's final point came in the 39th minute and, after Hughes pulled one back for Moate, Loreto ended the third quarter with Anne Marie Bennett raising her second white flag.
With the intensity understandably dropping as the game meandered towards a straightforward Loreto win, the Wexford school added just two further points. Rachel Bennett got a deserved score seven minutes from time and Codd picked up her second, and her side's final score, a minute later.
Next up for the Leinster champions is an All-Ireland semi-final against the Munster winners. That tie is expected to take place at the end of Feburary.
Loreto: Sally Walker; Larah Campbell, Sadbh McCarthy (capt.), Niamh Dunne; Caoimhe Neville, Aisling Halligan, Aoife Dwyer; Julia Dempsey, Aisling Gouldson (0-1); Emma Codd (0-2), Emily Coakley (3-7, 0-3 frees), Clodagh Jackman; Rachel Bennett (0-1), Ashling Alouf, Anne Marie Bennett (0-2). Subs. - Eva Hession for Alouf (38), Eva Crean for Halligan (46), Annie O'Gorman for Gouldson (52), Rebecca Banville for Dwyer (55), Aoife Kelly for Coakley, inj. (58), also Emma Cousins, Megan Carty, Clodagh Walsh, Becky Hamilton, Anna Mulligan, Sally Shortle, Clara O'Doherty.
Moate: Hannah Lynan; Therese Robbins, Anne Marie Moran, Emma Kelly; Therese Geoghegan, Ciara Heavin, Niamh Palmer; Rachel Keane, Mary Harkin; Róisín Ennis, Tara Hughes (capt., 0-4 frees), Maria O'Donoghue; Leah Quigley, Chloe Butler (1-0), Aibhe Sheridan (0-1). Subs. - Claire King for Ennis (51), Aine Guinan for Kelly (53).
Referee: Brendan Hickey (Kildare).