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The dominance of Loreto Secondary School in the O’Neills All-Ireland post primary junior A championship continues as the Kilkenny outfit came out on top in a pulsating final against Coachford College by 3-7 to 1-10 in Cahir.
Rachel Kelly was the driving force for the victors as they retained their title but much more remarkably, made it a seventh success in eight seasons and an eighth in 10.
Coachford played a huge role in the excitement and drama of the game but were always playing catch-up.
The Cork girls trailed by 2-6 to 1-4 at the interval and though they kept chipping away at the deficit with some fine scores from the excellent Cliona Healy in particular, who finished with seven points, they could never add to the goal registered by Ciara McCarthy in the opening half.
They also needed to prevent Loreto from breaching their defences again and though the rearguard effort was magnificent, as the Noresiders only managed one point in the latter period, the leaking of a third goal proved decisive.
Kelly was magnificent for the champions, providing a goal and five points, but she had a wonderful support cast from back to front, with the goals of Steffi Fitzgerald and Ciara O’Keeffe crucial in the end.
The C final in Duggan Park, Ballinasloe lacked the competitiveness of the A decider but that won’t bother the Scariff Community College contingent one whit, as they blitzed Banagher College by 6-7 to 0-2.
The East Clare crew led by 2-7 to 0-1 at half time and made sure of their first All-Ireland title in clinical fashion, adding four more goals while remaining resolute at the back.
Centre-back, Amy Barret was an inspirational figure for the winners, repelling any attempt at progress by Banagher while propelling her own side forward.
A brace of frees from Ciara Doyle, who shared the captaincy with Barret, had Scariff ahead by three points when Alannah Moloney raised Scariff’s first green flag after six minutes.
Chloe Reilly got Banagher off the mark four minutes later but it was all Scariff and Doyle got the final touch after a goalmouth scramble to put some daylight between the sides. Lorna McNamara and Doyle (who finished with 1-5) added points to give them an 12-point interval advantage.
Banagher had a slight wind advantage after the resumption but they had only a Reilly point to show for their endeavours. Instead, it was Scariff who were clinical, as McNamara and Amber Nolan bagged a brace of goals each.
Their Offaly opponents fought hard and Reilly was denied a goal by Shauna Canny, whose concentration never wavered between the sticks for the victors.
But the result was never in doubt and it was Scariff who deservingly made history in a convincing manner.

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