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Wednesday 18 September 2019

Famous first for Loreto girls

Leinster Colleges Senior 'A' camogie championship: Loreto (Wexford) 4-9 (Loreto Kilkenny) 1-9

Joint captains Anna Hennessy and Ciara O’Connor with the spoils of success at the after-match presentation.
Joint captains Anna Hennessy and Ciara O’Connor with the spoils of success at the after-match presentation.

Brian Carty in Bunclody

Loreto (Wexford) created their own piece of history when they won their first-ever Leinster Colleges Senior 'A' camogie championship title with a blink-and-you-miss-it 4-9 to 1-9 victory over tournament standard-bearers and namesakes Loreto (Kilkenny) in Saturday's thrilling final in Bunclody.

This momentous achievement came about due to a combination of a resilient defensive display in the second-half, which limited Kilkenny to just three points after the break, and a never-say-die attitude in every sector of the field that eventually brought three goals in injury-time and sparked euphoric scenes among their connections.

Also significant was a shrewd half-time tactical tweak from management which saw Sarah Harding-Kenny swap places at midfield with Ann-Marie Bennett, with Bennett's twin sister, Rachel, moving to the left wing.

Harding-Kenny brought bundles of energy and tenacity to the middle third, and allowed her team-mates to thrive the longer the game progressed.

Harding-Kenny has a knack of influencing the biggest games and, considering she has played adult inter-county football for two seasons already, together with Rachel Bennett, it's easy to forget her tender years.

Wexford showed no early stage-fright as they forged a 0-4 to 0-1 lead after ten minutes, with Amy Cousins neatly opening their account after 90 seconds, and top scorer Lettie Whelan supplying three points, including two frees.

Kilkenny centre-back and captain Ruth Kent converted a free in between, and they had pulled level by the start of the second quarter as they suddenly realised they wouldn't be get anything easy off the determined Wexford girls.

Tiffanie Fitzgerald ran through the centre to point, and Anna Doheny assited Ciara Mullan soon after, while Fitzgerald tapped over the equaliser after Olivia Mahony had made good ground.

However, Wexford responded with a wonderfully manufactured goal on 22 minutes when Ella O'Connor shook off a couple of opponents before playing a clever disguised pass into Ciara Butler, and the Glynn-Barntown star fizzed a powerful shot across Hannah Brennan.

That lead was shortlived, however, as Kilkenny pounced for a rather scruffy goal when the sliothar spilled out to Elizabeth Keher and she pulled to the net (1-4 each).

Kilkenny then went ahead for the first time from a Kent free on 28 minutes, while Fitzgerald picked off her third point of the half in injury-time to give them a 1-6 to 1-4 interval advantage.

That was stretched when Mahony pointed on the resumption, but Wexford went on to generally dominate the scoring stakes.

Whelan made room for herself to score from play, Ciara O'Connor added a free, while Butler slapped over to make it 1-7 apiece on 41 minutes.

Kent and Whelan exchanged frees, and Aoife O'Connor swooped under a puck-out to point from distance to open up a 1-9 to 1-8 lead on 51 minutes.

Crucially, Kent earlier had a penalty well stopped by Ciara O'Connor, and luck continued to be on Wexford's side as the game ticked towards a conclusion.

Indeed, Ann-Marie Bennett's attempt at the posts was fumbled over the line for a fortunate goal on 61 minutes, and when Ciara O'Connor's delivery towards goal two minutes later appeared to be forced home by substitute Aoife Dempsey, the trophy was heading Slaneyside.

And Whelan scooped home the fourth goal some six minutes into injury-time to add the cherry to the cake as Loreto join F.C.J. (Bunclody) and Mercy/Coláiste Bríde (Enniscorthy) on the roll of honour for Wexford's 16th title in total.

Loreto (Wexford): Lara O'Shea (Glynn-Barntown); Caitlin Carroll (St. Ibar's/Shelmalier), Anna Hennessy (St. Martin's), Mikeala Lanigan (St. Ibar's/Shelmalier); Ciara Banville (Taghmon-Camross), Ciara O'Connor (St. Martin's, capt., 0-1 free), Aoife O'Connor (St. Martin's, 0-1); Ella O'Connor (St. Martin's), Ann-Marie Bennett (St. Anne's, 1-0); Amy O'Leary (St. Martin's), Rachel Bennett (St. Anne's), Sarah Harding-Kenny (St. Ibar's/Shelmalier); Ciara Butler (Glynn-Barntown, 1-1), Lettie Whelan (St. Martin's, 1-5, 0-3 frees), Amy Cousins (Kilmore, 0-1). Subs. - Aoife Dempsey (St. Martin's, 1-0) for Cousins (59), also Áine Coleman, Fiona Esmonde, Anna Mulligan, Clare Barrett, Ashling Alouf, Ellen Roe (all St. Martin's), Ciara Banville (St. Ibar's/Shelmalier), Emma Rath, Fiona Kelly (both St. Brigid's, Blackwater), Eimear Jackman (Glynn-Barntown), Ellen Berry (Kilmore).

Loreto (Kilkenny): Hannah Brennan; Caoimhe Holland, Clodagh Hanlon, Danielle Quigley; Eimear Leahy, Ruth Kent (capt., 0-3, 2 frees, 1 '45), Sinéad Keoghan; Jane Cass, Ciara O'Keeffe; Olivia Mahony (0-1), Tiffanie Fitzgerald (0-4), Anna Doheny; Elizabeth Keher (1-0), Ciara Mullan (0-1), Emma Manogue. Subs. - Claire Doheny for A. Doheny (49), Ruth Gardiner for Brennan, inj. (60+5).

Referee: Alan Lagrue (Kildare).

Wexford People