CORK moved through the gears in the final quarter to get the better of Galway and claim the All-Ireland Minor A Camogie title by 0-18 to 0 1-11 in MacDonagh Park, Nenagh.
This is Cork’s first victory in this grade since it was changed to U18 from U16 in 2006, and it was secured by virtue of an all-round team performance, with eight different contributors to their 18-point tally.
The Leesiders began well, moving into an early three-point lead after Ciara O’Sullivan took a pass from Cliona Healy to score in the opening minute.
Niamh Niland levelled for Galway from a seventh-minute free but points from Healy (free), Emma Murphy – after Galway’s Senior goalie Sarah Healy made an excellent save from her Rebel namesake – and Hannah O’Leary put some daylight between the sides.
That advantage didn’t last long however as Galway were level from the next attack, Chloe Reilly providing the lethal goal finish worthy of the sumptuous pass by Galway’s other Senior star, Siobhán McGrath.
The Tribeswomen were in front immediately after, Niamh Horan finishing on the run from the left. Saoirse McCarthy landed a whopping point from a 60m free to settle Cork and bring them level, and it was nip and tuck from there to the interval.
On three occasions Cork moved in front thanks to Reilly and McCarthy (twice) but Horan, Niland and Horan once more ensured that the teams were deadlocked at the break, on 0-8 to 1-5.
McCarthy and team captain, Moira Barrett edged Cork ahead once more but Galway had their best patch of the game to get their noses in front by the 38th minute, thanks to points from Reilly and a Niland brace. Tegan Canning stretched the lead to two and Lorraine Larkin’s crew had all the momentum.
Cork have finished strongly in most of their games however and they found another level to turn this game on its head. Jerry Wallace introduced Rachel O’Regan and the Carrigaline forward had a huge impact, scoring two points and setting up another for Fiona Keating.
McGrath kept Galway in touch with a couple of pointed frees but the westerners could not break down the opposition defence and instead, McCarthy continued her accurate shooting from placed balls to confirm a memorable Leeside success.
Meanwhile, Antrim garnered a second All-Ireland Minor B Championship in a row in the most dramatic of circumstances, an injury-time goal by Rósín McCormick giving them a 3-13 to 3-12 win over Westmeath.
It looked like they had lost it when Sheila McGrath, who along with Hannah Core and Megan Dowdall was playing the first of two major Finals for their county over the weekend, grabbed a 60th minute goal to edge her side in front.
But there was still time for McCormick to snatch the winner and bring her personal tally to an amazing 3-9.
McGrath and Core were prominent from the outset. McGrath, who has been nominated as the Division 2 National League Player of the Year and finished with 1-10, hit her side’s first three points and Core the fourth as they established an early three-point advantage.
Antrim settled into the task though and a goal from their marquee operator McCormick ensured that they were on level pegging with Westmeath at the break, 0-9 to 1-6.
The Ulster girls started the second half brilliantly and established a two-goal lead but when Eilish Kearns was sent off after being shown a second yellow card, their backs were to the wall.
Two goals from Dowdall brought Westmeath back in the mix and then McGrath pounced for what seemed a winning goal in the 60th minute. That was to reckon without McCormick though, and the silverware was heading north once more.
In the opening game at the O’Raghallaigh’s venue, Kildare took the honours in the Minor B Shield Final, having far too much firepower in accounting for Down by 5-16 to 1-10. The Lilywhites did all the damage in the first half, during which they established a 5-8 to 0-4 advantage.
Caoimhe Maher was top scorer with a goal and 10 points for the victors, only five points of which came from frees. Holly Tynan grabbed a brace of goals, with Caoimhe Shiels and Niamh Keegan also raising green flags. Saoirse Sands led the way for Down, contributing a goal and seven points.