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Sunday 25 February 2018

Loreto endure late heartache

So near and yet so far to title

Brendan Furlong

The Loreto (Wexford) squad prior to Saturday’s agonising Leinster ‘A’ championship final defeat
The Loreto (Wexford) squad prior to Saturday’s agonising Leinster ‘A’ championship final defeat

Loreto (Wexford) came within two minutes of creating history, but in the end it was heartbreak as their Kilkenny namesakes struck for a late goal and a point to deny them an historic first title in this excellent Leinster Colleges Senior 'A' camogie final in Blackwater on Saturday.

Loreto (Kilkenny)1-10 Loreto (Wexford)1-8

In what was the first ever all-Loreto provincial final, the Wexford girls had a nervous opening half but seemed to have laid the foundations for victory after they swept into a two-point lead with a little less than two minutes remaining of an enthralling second-half tussle.

Misfortune struck though when, not for the first time, a Kilkenny side hit Wexford for late and crucial scores to deny them a victory they so richly deserved after a splendid showing after the break.

On a cold but dry afternoon, both sides contributed to an excellent final, as they scaled the heights during different periods. And one had to feel sympathy for the Loreto girls from Wexford town who came ever so close until the game swung dramatically away from them in the final stages.

After Ciara O'Keeffe had pointed the Kilkenny college in front, Wexford responded with a lightning attack. Clare O'Gorman and Rachel Bennett combined with Bennett's effort for goal being saved by Hannah Brennan, but Jessie Morrissey was alert to the situation to crash the rebound to the net, giving her side a 1-0 to 0-1 lead after six minutes.

There was plenty of quality camogie right through the pitch but the Kilkenny girls capitalised most on their possession through this spell as they hit three unanswered points through Katie Brennan, Steffi Fitzgerald and Sophie O'Dwyer to lead by 0-4 to 1-0 after 25 minutes, while in between it took an excellent save from 'keeper Emma Kiely to deny Eimear Keoghan a goal.

Loreto (Wexford) began to settle into the game. Following a slick attacking move, Jessie Harding was fouled close to goal, but Sarah O'Connor's low and hard shot from the resulting penalty was saved and cleared to safety.

Following this Harding and Sophie O'Dwyer exchanged points, with a Steffi Fitzgerald effort extending the Kilkenny lead to 0-6 to 1-1. That was how it remained to the interval, although it took another excellent save from Emma Kiely to deny Ciara O'Keeffe a goal close to the break.

Wexford stormed into the game on the resumption. With Anna Hennessy, Katie Roche and Sarah O'Connor on top, they managed to curtail their opponents up front, while Ciara O'Connor and Ella O'Connor began to give full support to the attack, where Lettie Whelan, Rachel Bennett and Jessie Morrissey were now setting a real test for the Kilkenny defence.

It was no surprise when Lettie Whelan pointed three frees in the third quarter to give her side a 1-4 to 0-6 lead to take into the closing 15 minutes.

However, Kilkenny responded with pointed frees through Sophie O'Dwyer and Caoimhe Dowling to regain the lead (0-8 to 1-4) with 13 minutes remaining. Eight minutes from the end a Lettie whelan pointed free after Rachel Bennett was fouled restored parity.

Jessie Morrissey took control of possession out on the wing and picked out Rachel Bennett inside who in turn sent over a great point from an acure angle with five minutes remaining.

Four minutes from the end Sarah O'Connor pointed a huge free from midfield, leaving her side leading by 1-8 to 0-9.

But disaster was to strike one minute from the end when Kilkenny were awarded a free some 30 metres from goal to the left of the posts. Sophie O'Dwyer seemed to mishit the ball which curled to the left, striking the post before ending in the net to the dismay of the home side, while one minute later Eimear Keoghan added a point.

While the Wexford girls did manage to launch two late attacks, their efforts were repelled by the eventual winners' defence, leaving them shattered on the final whistle.

Loreto (Wexford): Emma Kiely (Glynn-Barntown); Megan Carty (St. Martin's), Anna Hennessy (St. Martin's), Katie Roche (Oulart-The Ballagh); Clodagh Jackman (Glynn-Barntown), Sarah O'Connor (St. Martin's, 0-2 frees), Róisín Cooney (Glynn-Barntown); Ella O'Connor (St. Martin's), Ciara O'Connor (St. Martin's); Mary Barrett (St. Martin's), Clare O'Gorman (Taghmon-Camross), Lettie Whelan (St. Martin's, 0-4 frees); Rachel Bennett (St. Anne's, 0-1), Jessie Morrissey (Glynn-Barntown, 1-0), Jessie Harding (St. Ibar's/Shelmalier, 0-1). Subs. - Aisling Halligan (Glynn-Barntown) for O'Gorman, Niamh Dunne (St. Martin's) for E. O'Connor, also Cathy O'Connor (Kilmore), Larah Campbell (St. Ibar's/Shelmalier), Lucy Purcell (Blackwater), Ann-Marie Bennett (St. Anne's), Mikaela Lanigan (St. Ibar's/Shelmalier), Emma Cousins (Kilmore), Caitlin Carroll (St. Ibar's/Shelmalier), Anna Mulligan (St. Martin's), Niamh O'Connor (Buffers Alley), Emma Codd (St. Martin's).

Loreto (Kilkenny): Hannah Brennan; Ciara Mullan, Tara Clifford, Ruth Kent; Ciara O'Shea, Michelle Teehan, Nicole Carter; Caoimhe Dowling (0-1 free), Niamh Deely; Steffi Fitzgerald (0-2, 1 free), Katie Brennan (0-1), Aoife O'Carroll; Eimear Keoghan (0-1), Sophie O'Dwyer (1-2 frees), Ciara O'Keeffe (0-1). Subs. - Ella Moore for Mullan, Hannah Kelly for Fitzgerald.

Referee: Martin Quilty (Kilkenny).

Wexford People

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