By Daragh Ó Conchúir
A GOAL from Jessica Fitzell deep in injury time ensured that Camogie history will be made on November 26 when a Kerry club will appear in an AIB All-Ireland Club Final for the first time.
They had to withstand a ferocious challenge from Athleague in this thrilling Junior Semi-Final in Ballinderreen before making their date with destiny however.
The Roscommon women were desperate to make a Final appearance, and launched a spirited comeback in the second half to draw level.
Indeed they had much of the play but failed to convert that possession to scores, falling to Fitzell's late, late sucker punch.
That said, Clanmaurice were never behind in the game from the time their best player, the magnificent Patrice Diggin hand-passed to the Athleague net in the opening minute.
Diggin, an Ashbourne Cup winner and leading light for Kerry in recent years, was fantastic throughout, scoring at one end and defending at the other. Indeed, a breathtaking clearance off her line with the sides level in the closing stages was one of the pivotal moments of the game.
Athleague settled into the fray thanks to a pointed free by Kelley Hopkins and a neat score from Leanne Fleming and it was nip and tuck from there to the end.
Diggin hit two points from frees, either side of a score from Fiona Connell Jones and it was 1-2 to 0-3 at the interval.
Diggin fired her first from play two minutes after the resumption and then, notched up her second goal, though there may have been some fortune about the manner in which her shot from a 30m free dipped viciously late in its trajectory to hit the top corner of the net.
That made it 2-3 to 0-3 and it was looking difficult for Athleague now. They are an experienced unit however and after Connell Jones and Olivia Dineen swapped points, Rachel Fitzmaurice raised a green flag for the Rossies and it was game on once more.
Athleague pegged their rivals back via points from Connell Jones, Niamh Farrell and Annette McGeeney and had all the momentum. They looked sure to have carved out a winning chance only for Aoife Behan to make a vital interception approaching the end of normal time.
There were five minutes of injury time however and it was Diggin that laid the groundwork for the last, significant play, her delivery landing in the danger zone and Fitzell getting the last touch to decide the outcome.
SCORERS FOR CLANMAURICE: P Diggin 2-3; J Fitzell 1-0; O Dineen 0-1
SCORERS FOR ATHLEAGUE: F Connell Jones 0-3; R Fizmaurice 1-0; N Farrell, K Hopkins, L Fleming, A McGeeney 0-1 each
CLANMAURICE: A Maunsell, T Moran, N Leen, M Costello, E Ryall, S Murphy, O Young, P Diggin, O Dineen, A Behan, L Collins, S Horgan, J Fitzell, J Horgan, AM Leen.
Sub: A O’Connor for Horgan
ATHLEAGUE: P Daly, E Brennan, N Farrell, C Whyte Lennon, N Conway, K Hopkins, M Tiernan, L Fleming, E Ní Chumhaill, L Walsh, A McGeeney, R Fizmaurice, H Gavin, F Connell Jones, R Brennan
REFEREE: A Doheny (Laois)