A scintillating performance by pocket rocket Siobhán McGrath was the headline act as Sarsfields gained revenge on their December conquerors Oulart-The Ballagh to get their hands back on the Bill and Agnes Carroll as AIB All-Ireland Senior Club Camogie Championship victors, by 3-12 to 4-5 at Croke Park.
McGrath scored a goal and seven points, the goal coming into the same Davin Stand end in which she rattled to net to snatch All-Ireland glory for Galway last September, but at least as notable was the pocket rocket’s sometimes manic workrate, which forced a number of turnovers.
It was symptomatic of the controlled aggression and immense industry that Sarsfields brought to the game all over the pitch. They needed every bit of though, as Oulart-The Ballagh, who had dethroned the Galwegians in the 2020 decider played just before Christmas, would not go away, even though they were living on scraps at times with Niamh McGrath and Sarah Spellman contributing to a dominance around the middle third.
OTB kept trading goals with their rivals but just could not create anything like the problems they caused at UPMC Nowlan Park in their last meeting.
Ursula Jacob pointed a 45 for OTB in the fifth minute but by that stage, Sarsfields already had 1-2 on the board, with McGrath hitting a goal and a point. The goal arrived in the third minute, McGrath rounding Aideen Brennan and placing a shot to the far corner. Her sister Orlaith also found the target as Sarsfields looked to create plenty of space in attack in which to use their speed.
The red and black jerseys are full of experience though and with so many players who had been part of the club’s three previous All-Ireland successes, as well as Wexford’s four from 2007-2012, they were never going to panic.
That said, there was certainly an element of fortune to Shelly Kehoe’s 15th minute goal as her shot for a point dropped just under the crossbar as goalkeeper Laura Glynn collided with the upright while attempting to keep it out, just seconds after she had made an excellent save from Leanne Nolan.
Back came Sarsfields, and a 26th minute goal arrived from the unlikeliest of sources in Tara Kenny, who soloed in from the right. Her shot slipped from the grasp of OTB netminder Lauren Sinnott and crept into the corner of the net. Four minutes later, Sinnott made a double save from Sarah Spellman and Shannon Corcoran but was helpless when Cora Kenny finished to the net off the sod.
There was still time, however, for Oulart-The Ballagh to deliver a message, Úna Leacy blasting to the roof of the net after good work from Jacob, who drew the cover and slipped her long-time colleague in with a good hand-pass.
That made it 3-6 to 2-4 at half-time. Siobhán McGrath clipped over two quick points before Anais Curran drove a fantastic goal with a second attempt in the 38th minute after a blinding run and first shot saved by Glynn. Now, there were just four between them.
But Sarsfields were determined to secure a second title and not to lose a fourth final. They put the affair to bed in clinical fashion, with Siobhán McGrath in particular firing some outstanding scores from play, while also deadly accurate from placed balls.
Four points in a row doubled the margin and though Stacey Kehoe pointed with eight minutes of normal time remaining, Sarsfields defended resolutely and when Leacy bagged her second goal from a 20m free that was deflected to the net as the game ticked into injury time, it was too late to prevent the trophy heading west.
SCORERS FOR SARSFIELDS: S McGrath 1-7(0-4fs); C Kenny 1-1; T Kenny 1-0; O McGrath 0-2; N McGrath, K Donohue 0-1 each
SCORERS FOR OULART-THE BALLAGH: Ú Leacy 2-0 (1-0f); U Jacob 0-3(2fs, 1 45); Shelly Kehoe, A Curran 1-0 each; Stacey Kehoe 0-2
SARSFIELDS: L Glynn, R Kelly, L Ward, K Gallagher, M Cooney, T Kenny, J Daly, S Spellman, N McGrath, K Donohue, C McGrath, O McGrath, S Corcoran, S McGrath, C Kenny. Subs: R Murray for Corcoran (50), C Cahalan for C McGrath (60+1)
OULART-THE BALLAGH: Lauren Sinnott, M O’Dowd, A Brennan, K Roche, A Dunne, C Storey, M Leacy, Stacey Kehoe, A Curran, K Gallagher, Shelly Kehoe, Louise Sinnott, L Nolan, Ú Leacy, U Jacob. Subs: Siobhán Sinnott for Nolan (47), Shauna Sinnott for Louise Sinnott (47)
REFEREE: Ray Kelly (Kildare)