Down produced a blistering final quarter to win their fourth Liberty Insurance All-Ireland premier junior camogie title at at the expense of Laois by 1-12 to 1-8 writes Daragh Ó Conchúir from Croke Park.
It was sweet redemption for a team that had lost the 2011 and 2012 finals but a bitter pill for Laois to swallow, given that they were experiencing defeat for the second consecutive year themselves.
Both sides were wasteful in the first half, with Down just being that bit more economical in attack.
Laois were dealt a major blow when influential midfielder, Síle Burke twisted her knee straight from the throw-in but to their credit, they did not allow the setback to affect them.
The game was extremely tight until the three minutes of injury time awarded for the stoppage as Burke received treatment.
Down took the lead when Catherine McGourty pointed a 45 and they were 0-4 to 0-3 ahead when Niamh Dollard reacted quickest to Maria McNally’s batted clearance to goal for Laois 35 seconds into the added time added on.
McGourty found the net at the other end though to leave it 1-4 to 1-3 at half time.
Far from being downbeat, Laois resumed in commanding fashion. Sarah-Anne Fitzgerald had two quick scores that were right out of the top drawer and though Sara Louise Carr responded for Down, a brace from Liberty Insurance player of the match, Dollard pushed a dominant Laois three points clear.
That score arrived in the 43rd minute but Laois failed to score again while Down scored seven points on the trot. Karen Gribben ended a 16-minute drought for the Mourne outfit and that infused them with renewed confidence, as points from McGourty and team captain, Niamh Mallon brought the teams level.
Gribben sent over a sensational score from tight on the right and not far outside the 20m line to put Alastair McGilligan’s crew ahead.
It was all Down now and McGourty, Karen McMullan and Aimee McAleenan pointed to secure the return of the Kay Mills Cup to the Ulster county for the fourth time.
SCORERS – Down: C McGourty 1-4 (0-1f, 0-1 45); K McMullan, N Mallon, K Gribben 0-2 each, A McAleenan, SL Carr 0-1 each
Laois: SA Fitzgerald 0-5 (4fs); N Dollard 1-2; L Mahony 0-1
DOWN: M McNally, K Tinnelly, C McGovern, B McGourty, C Rocks, L McAliskey, F Carr, A Keown, K McMullan, L McPolin, P Gribben, C McGourty, N Mallon, SL Carr, K Gribben. Subs: G O’Higgins for Rocks (30), C Clarke for McPolin (37), N Braniff for Clarke (57), E McCormick for Keown (60+1), A McAleenan for Gribben (60+2)
LAOIS: l Dunne, M Burke, R Bermingham, A Burke, M O’Grady, E Delaney, A Dunphy, S Burke, AM Purcell, L Mahony, SA Fitzgerald, E Mahony, D Mortimer, N Dollard, LM Maher. Subs: C Walsh for Burke inj (4), O Parkinson for Maher (55)
REFEREE: L Dempsey (Kilkenny)