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Thursday 18 April 2019

Pres land super double

Presentation 1-10 Castlecomer C.S. 2-6

The victorious Presentation (Wexford) squad
The victorious Presentation (Wexford) squad

The final stages of this gripping encounter showed the never-say-die attitude of the Presentation girls which has secured them a historic Junior and Senior Leinster 'B' double - two trophies never before won by the school.

It was the accuracy of Ailis Neville and the battling qualities of all 15 players which saw them secure another win for a Wexford team in Kilkenny, this time in Jenkinstown on Saturday.

Presentation won the toss and opted to play with the strong breeze at their backs. Both sides showed early signs of nerves as they struggled to get the ball moving with any fluency on the heavy Conahy Shamrocks pitch.

It wasn't until the sixth minute that Ailis Neville opened the scoring with a well-taken free. This was quickly followed by a stylish point from Eleanor Hammel after she jinked past numerous Castlecomer players.

The Pres girls were well on top all over the pitch, and one of many accurate deliveries from Niamh Cogley found Aoibheann Mernagh, who held off a couple of players and slotted between the posts.

A couple of Castlecomer frees were more than matched by the in-form Neville who found no angle or distance too difficult. One free in particular from outside the '65 was converted with more confidence than any of the ones in Nowlan Park the previous week.

Good saves in the dying stages of the half from Fiona Cousins and Alibeth Curran ensured the Pres girls went in 0-8 to 0-3 ahead at the break.

Neville started the second-half as she finished the first with two points, one either side of a well-taken Emma Dempsey goal as the game looked over.

The wind was picking up, however, and the Castlecomer girls, many playing on their club pitch, were not going to go down without a fight. Their clearances were hitting their full-forward line and they hit a real purple patch, scoring 1-2 without reply to leave four between the sides.

With five minutes remaining Castlecomer brought their young goalkeeper out the field. One could tell from the excitement of the Kilkenny crowd in attendance that she is a star of the future.

She quickly showed those who didn't know her what she was all about. With her first touch, she flicked the ball into her hand and rifled an unstoppable shot to the roof of the net to leave the minimum between the sides.

It was the last five minutes which typified the Presentation girls' heart and determination as they just refused to be beaten. All 15 players repeatedly put their bodies on the line with vital hooks and blocks.

Important rucks won, in particular by Nicole Harding-Kenny and Emma Dempsey, were followed by a 50-yard run from Aoibheann Mernagh to get a hook on the powerful 'Comer centre-back.

It was appropriate that the final play of the game was a free won by inspirational Pres captain Sinéad Furlong as she broke through numerous players before being dragged down. She, along with many more of this team, were playing their fourth game in eleven days as they added this title to the Senior one won the previous week.

Due to the regrading of Ulster and Connacht sides this year, both these teams now go on to the All-Ireland semi-finals. Castlecomer face Munster opposition while the Presentation travel to the capital next month to meet the Dublin 'A' winners.

A re-match of this epic battle in an All-Ireland final would not be one for the faint-hearted. In the meantime, for the Presentation, all attention turns back to the Senior side as they also face Dublin 'A' winners, Coláiste Iosagáin, in the All-Ireland semi-final this Friday at 6.30 p.m. in Hollymount.

Presentation Wexford: Fiona Cousins (Buffers Alley); Catríona Kinsella (St. Ibar's/Shelmalier), Alibeth Moran-Curran (Glynn-Barntown), Nicole Harding-Kenny (St. Ibar's/Shelmalier); Niamh Cogley (Glynn-Barntown), Aoife Whelan (Buffers Alley), Cora Rowe (Glynn-Barntown); Eleanor Hammel (Buffers Alley, 0-1), Sinéad Furlong (Buffers Alley); Ailis Neville (St. Ibar's/Shelmalier, 0-8, 6 frees), Emma Dempsey (Glynn-Barntown, 1-0), Niamh Rowe (Glynn-Barntown); Aoibheann Mernagh (St. Martin's, 0-1), Andrea Fielding (St. Ibar's/Shelmalier), Rebecca Fanning (Glynn-Barntown). Subs. - Hannah Hearne (St. Ibar's/Shelmalier, inj.), Lily Stout (St. Ibar's/Shelmalier), Tara Murphy (Clonard), Rachel Murphy (Glynn-Barntown), Orna Corrigan (Buffers Alley), Clodagh Whelan (Blackwater), Kennedy Cullen (St. Mary's, Rosslare).

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