Ballycran bridged a 39 year gap to collect only their third Down Senior camogie title in sunny Portaferry on Saturday – but they needed extra time in an exciting replay to see off holders Clonduff.
With Liatroim Fontenoys dominating Down Camogie with 16 straight victories 1991-2006, both these teams had tasted constant frustration in county finals and neither wanted to waste the opportunity presented by Clonduff’s semi-final win over the 26 times champions.
The Ards’ side played with the aid of the first half breeze and led by 0-7 to 0-2 at the break with two points each from their most influential players on the day Jenny McHugh and Catherine McGourty.
Clonduff edged their way back into contention and five unanswered points – two frees from Fionnuala Carr and three in a row from Paula Gribben – put them a point up with five minutes to play.
Nicola Braniff held her nerve to equalise and, after Lorraine Maginn had hit a late Clonduff point, she brought the tie to extra-time with an injury-time free.
Niamh Birt and Fionnuala Carr exchanged points on the re-start, but two McGourty frees and another free from Braniff triggered great scenes of celebration for the Ards’ team.
Ballycran : Ciara McCarthy, Sabrina McCullagh, Brid McGrattan, Audrey Kelly, Charlene Fitzsimons, Nuala Mallon, Emma Keith, Jennifer McHugh 0-2, Naoimi Morgan, Niamh Birt 0-2, Catherine McGourty 0-5, Suzelle Johnston, Mary Gilmore 0-1, Nicola Branniff 0-4, Laura Hughes.
Subs : Jenny Fowler for M Gilmore, Paula Hughes for C Fitzsimons, Danielle Toner for N Mallon.
Clonduff : Guinevra McGilligan, Grace Brown, Moya Maginn, Andrea McCluskey, Debra Murray, Fionnuala Carr 0-3 frees, Lorraine Maginn 0-1, Lean McParlan, Ciara Havern, Lisa McPolin 0-1, Sara Louise Carr 0-2, Orla Maginn, Megan O’Reilly, Paula Gribben 0-3, Kitty Fegan 0-1.
Subs used : Orla Gribben, Karen Gribben
St Patrick’s Maghera and St MacNissi’s Garron Tower are the first winners of the new Ulster Colleges’ season.
Both made it through to represent the province at the All-Ireland Sevens’ Tournament in Dublin on October 11th as a result of their victories at the MUSA blitz at the weekend.
Holders Maghera got off to a slow start with a draw against Cross & Passion Ballycastle, but improved to win their remaining games, while Ballycastle slipped up to St Mary’s Magherafelt in their final game.
Garron Tower were impressive in winning through at their first attempt, with captain Maeve Connolly and top-scorer Ashling Ward catching the eye.
Meanwhile in the Fr Davies’ Cup St Patrick’s Keady and Assumption Ballinahinch played out an entertaining draw 2-7 to 3-4.