Loreto College are the O’Neills All-Ireland Second Level Schools Junior A champions for the seventh time in nine seasons after they beat Presentation Athenry in an entertaining final by 3-11 to 2-6 at Ballykelly’s Stephen O’Rourke Park in Monasterevin.
Ironically, the Kilkenny crew’s run began when they claimed their first ever title against the same opposition in 2007 and they have dominated the competition since. They had to work very hard for this one and it wasn’t until the final quarter that they stamped their authority on proceedings.
It was a game that ebbed and flowed throughout, with Loreto getting off to the better start thanks to points from Eimear Keoghan, Hannah Kelly and the lethal Sophie O’Dwyer, who finished with a goal and seven points.
The Noresiders led by 0-4 to 0-0 before Athenry thundered into the fray, as Emer Keane followed up a wonderful solo goal with a point after Emma Gaffney had gotten them off the mark and suddenly they were in front. Goalkeeper, Megan McDonagh kept them ahead with a tremendous save but when O’Dwyer hand-passed to the net after her penalty had been saved, it was Loreto that led at half time by 1-6 to 1-3.
Presentation resumed with real determination and a couple of points from Leanne Freaney helped reduce the gap before Freaney goaled after 16 minutes to give them a one-point lead.
They weren’t to score again however, as Loreto hit back immediately with a goal from Hannah Kelly. That seemed to knock the stuffing out of the Athenry girls. Loreto centre-back, Michelle Teehan put in a player-of-the-match performance as her side went five points clear before Eimear Keoghan goaled to put the seal on a famous day.
In the B final at Athenry’s Kenny Park, player of the match Regan Conway scored a fantastic three goals and six points in St Joseph’s 6-11 to 1-3 win over Seamount College, who had enjoyed senior success the previous week. Seamount had seven players involved who were part of last week’s victory, including Carrie Dolan, who was outstanding that day.
They couldn’t contend with their Tulla opposition though, and in particular Conway. Niamh O’Gorman had a goal after three minutes before Conway notched up her first in the 10th minute to open an early eight-point score.
Dearbhaile Walsh got the Galwegians off the mark but Evelyn Duggan scored another goal and Niamh Mulqueen a sensational point, and though Dolan found the net at the other end from a 45, Conway’s second goal made it 4-4 to 1-1 at the interval.
Robyn Conway – cousin of Regan – scored St Joseph’s fifth goal. Regan scored four points on the trot before slotting her third goal to round off a wonderful day.
The C decider produced a cracker in Ballykelly and will need a replay at the same venue later this week after Coláiste na Tríonóide launched a late comeback to grab a 2-9 to 3-6 draw with Coláiste Íosagáin. Points from Sinéad Wylde, the excellent Eleanor Ní Eachtgheirn, Grace O’Shea and Louise O’Shea gave Coláiste Íosagáin a good start and they led by 0-8 to 1-2 at half time.
Despite the excellence of Amy O’Brien, Rosanna O’Donnell and Gráinne O’Regan, it was looking bad for the Doon girls when a Grace O’Shea goal meant that they were still four points down with four minutes to go, but they pounced late with a goal and a point to snatch a second bite of the cherry.