Saturday 16 December 2017

Loreto Wexford lose to 'A' final specialists

Dean Goodison

Ella O'Connor of Loreto Wexford evades Kate Brennan
Ella O'Connor of Loreto Wexford evades Kate Brennan

Loreto Kilkenny improved their incredible record in the Leinster Colleges Junior 'A' camogie championship by beating a gallant Loreto Wexford in the final at Bunclody.

Loreto Kilkenny 2-7 Loreto Wexford 0-3

The Kittens have appeared in the last eleven finals, with their victory at the weekend their tenth win, while seven of the team were also part of their 2015 success. In all, it was the school's twelfth title in this grade in their 29 years competing for the crown.

With that kind of history against them, it was always going to be a tough assignment for the Wexford girls. They played with great spirit throughout on a bitterly cold afternoon, in what was their first appearance in an 'A' final at this age group.

Lettie Whelan gave her side the perfect start with a long-range free splitting the uprights, but Kilkenny came back, wearing the famous black and amber, and levelled through the exceptional Rachel Kelly.

Things took a turn for the worst for the Spawell Road girls as Hannah Kelly's powerful 30-metre shot beat Hannah Quirke between the sticks in the sixth minute.

Shortly after the Kilkenny goalscorer added a point, Quirke made a fine save to deny Steffi Fitzgerald a second goal.

Two more points from Rachel Kelly left her school 1-4 to 0-1 ahead at the end of the opening quarter.

Then, Wexford had their best spell, keeping their opponents scoreless for the rest of the half and creating chances themselves.

The only score from play for Loreto Wexford came in the 17th minute and was courtesy of superb anticipation and hard work from Emma Codd to win the dirty possession and pop the sliothar over the bar.

Ella O'Connor's speculative effort forced Hannah Brennan to clear her lines and Becky Hamilton almost made inroads in the aftermath but the Kilkenny defence scrambled clear. However, Whelan did add a free, awarded for over-carrying, to cut the gap to four at the interval (1-4 to 0-3).

Loreto Wexford didn't score in the second-half but had more of the game than that statistic suggests. Their opponents added a Caoimhe Dowling free after the resumption and picked off a killer second goal through Hannah Kelly shortly after.

Rachel Kelly would add two further points as the half wore on for the victors while, at the other end, good link-up play between Codd and Ann Marie Bennett saw the latter force Hannah Brennan to make a smart stop in the 53rd minute.

However, that was as close as Wexford came as their Kilkenny namesakes took the title.

Loreto Wexford: Hannah Quirke; Megan Carty, Sadbh McCarthy, Caitlin Carroll; Ella O'Connor, Larah Campbell (capt.), Aisling Halligan; Clodagh Jackman, Ciara O'Connor; Ann Marie Bennett, Rachel Bennett, Lettie Whelan (0-2 frees); Aisling Alouf, Becky Hamilton, Emma Codd (0-1). Subs. - Mikaela Lanigan for Carroll (38), Emma Rath for Alouf (54), Anna Mulligan for A.M. Bennett (54), also Rebecca Banville, Eva Creane, Ciara Banville, Michelle Carthy, Amy O'Leary, Niamh O'Connor, Anna Hennessy.

Loreto Kilkenny: Hannah Brennan; Evelyn Phelan, Tara Clifford, Eimear Leahy; Nicole Carter, Ruth Kent, Ciara O'Shea; Jane Cass, Caoimhe Dowling (capt., 0-1 free); Ciara O'Keeffe, Katie Brennan, Rachel Kelly (0-5); Hannah Murphy, Steffi Fitzgerld, Hannah Kelly (2-1). Subs. - Tara Walsh for Murphy (51), Kate Dempsey for O'Keeffe (59).

Referee: Johnny Murphy (Carlow).

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