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Sunday 22 July 2018

Mary's make All-Ireland

St. Mary's (New Ross) 2-9 St. Brigid's (Loughrea)  1-5

St. Mary's (New Ross) produced a gritty performance to see off Galway girls St. Brigid's (Loughrea) on Saturday and book their spot in the O'Neills All-Ireland Post Primary Schools Junior 'A' camogie championship final.

Things were tight most of the way, with the Leinster champions trailing by two points with five minutes remaining.

However, on a heavy Killimor pitch, St. Mary's refused to give up and nabbed 2-3 in the time remaining to book a spot in the decider.

For the victors, to re-focus after beating the winner of nine of the previous eleven titles at this level was always going to be a tough ask. It can feel like the hard work is done, but St. Mary's knew Loughrea, runners-up in two of those All-Ireland finals, were no slouches.

Yet, seeing off Loreto (Kilkenny) in a nail-biting Leinster final gave St. Mary's something important - real self-belief. When the chips were down and only the hungriest survived, the girls from Ross found reserves from deep inside.

To win an All-Ireland semi-final one needs serious performances right across the board, and St. Mary's got them. Everyone put in a shift but it was Niamh Ogilvie who shone the brightest with an outstanding performance, first at corner-back, and later in the half-back line.

Beside her after the switch was Amy Cahill and she was rock solid. Aisling Prendergast was tireless in midfield and attackers Cria Langton, Niamh O'Shea and Ciara Walsh ran themselves ragged.

St. Mary's actually got off to an impressive start. In the first ten minutes Ciara Walsh picked off a couple of points and Kate Foley converted a free to make it 0-3 to nil.

However, the hosts soon dropped in a sweeper and hit back with the last three points of the half to go in deadlocked (0-3 each).

Foley put her side ahead after the resumption, but when a long ball in found its way to the New Ross net their task was made considerably harder. Foley and Katie Murphy twice got St. Mary's within one, but they still trailed by 1-5 to 0-6 as the game moved towards the closing stages.

Then things changed. Faye Codd cut the deficit to one before Foley's free from out on the wing dropped into the net.

The Horeswood clubwoman added another dead-ball before Katie Murphy scrambled to the net after the Loughrea 'keeper had saved an initial shot.

With Loughrea now beaten, Kate Foley put the seal on victory with one last point.

St. Mary's can now become the first Wexford school to claim the All-Ireland Junior 'A' title since an Una Leacy-captained Coláiste Bríde beat Presentation College (Athenry) back in 2004.

In the title decider the New Ross girls will face relatively near neighbours St. Angela's. Goals from Clodagh Curham and Alisha Flynn saw the Waterford city school past 2008 champions Cross and Passion (Ballycastle).

With just 26 kilometres separating the two schools, it will be interesting to see where the Camogie Association bring them for the game. That final is scheduled for March 10, with details to follow in due course.

St. Mary's: Hannah Dunphy (Mullinavat); Niamh Ogilvie (Cloughbawn), Katie Kehoe (Horeswood), Bríd Walsh (St. James'); Elaine Quigley (Cloughbawn), Amy Cahill (Rathnure), Aine Galavan (The Rower-Inistioge); Aisling Prendergast (Graiguenamanagh), Tara Doyle (Cloughbawn); Niamh O'Shea (Rathgarogue-Cushinstown), Ciara Walsh (St. James', 0-2), Sarah Flynn (Cloughbawn); Katie Murphy (Rathgarogue-Cushinstown, 1-1), Cria Langton (The Rower-Inistioge), Kate Foley (Horeswood, 1-5 frees). Subs. - Faye Codd (Cloughbawn, 0-1) for Flynn, also Gemma Dunne (Graiguenamanagh), Gráinne Kelly (The Rower-Inistioge), Eimear Holden (Graiguenamanagh), Caoimhe Lyng (Rathgarogue-Cushinstown), Kathryn Dempsey (Horeswood), Eva Mooney (Rathnure), Ella Foley (Rathgarogue-Cushinstown), Méadbh Nunan (Fethard), Amy Ryan (The Rower-Inistioge), Sophie Roche (Rathnure), Sinéad Murphy (St. James'), Róisín O'Connor (Rathnure), Fiona Guiney (Rathnure), Jane Prendergast (The Rower-Inistioge), Ella Dalton (St. James'), Ella Lyng (Rathnure), Kate Galavan (The Rower-Inistioge), Alison Donnelly (Glenmore), Fiona Ryan (Gusserane).

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