Compiled by Daragh Ó Conchúir
EIGHT points from Niamh Niland in conjunction with a brace of goals from Niamh McPeake and a significant contribution too by victorious captain Áine Keane ensured Cork a 3-14 to 1-7 victory for Galway over Cork in the All-Ireland Under 16 Championship Final at MacDonagh Park Nenagh.
The win edges them past the Leesiders on the roll of honour with 14 titles but it didn’t look like taking the trajectory it did with the on-fire Clíona O'Leary getting Cork off to the perfect start. The Ballygarvan teenager, who accumulated a goal and four points, landed two frees from distance before ending a scintillating run with an emphatic finish for a brilliant goal in the ninth minute.
Donie Daly’s crew were four points in front but Keane, who finished with a goal and three points, followed her free with a stunning goal of her own to bring the sides level after 14 minutes. When McPeake skipped away from the Cork cover to find the net again two minutes later, Galway had a lead they would never relinquish.
Niland converted a couple of frees to make it 2-4 to 1-4 at half time but it was Galway who made the critical move after the restart, hitting the Reds for 1-2 to open a significant gap. McPeake pointed before grabbing her second goal and a Niland point made it an eight-point affair.
O’Leary and Clodagh Finn struck some lovely scores but the goal they needed was not forthcoming as the Galway defence held firm. Meanwhile, Gerry Dolan’s charges kept the pressure on at the other end and Niland punished the Cork backs for the concession of too many frees to ensure a comfortable victory.
In the Under 16 B Final, Rianna McBride contributed 1-5 as Antrim came out on top in an All-Ulster affair by 3-9 to 2-6 at the St Joseph’s grounds in Ballycran but they were given a late fright by Derry.
McBride did all of the damage in the first half, hitting Derry for all bar a point of her overall tally as the Saffrons stormed into a 2-6 to 0-3 interval lead. Annie Lynn also plundered a goal, while Derry had to rely on points from Anna Cassidy, captain Róisín Gallagher and Bronagh McCullagh.
The scoring rate slowed in the second half and when Shauna McDonnell landed goal number three for Antrim, it was all over.
Derry never gave up though and goals in the 55th and 56th minutes from a Gallagher free and then Aoife Toner suddenly made it interesting. They had given themselves too much to do however and Antrim claimed their first title at this level since 2004 and a first for their province since Derry completed a famous three-in-a-row four years later.
Meanwhile, it was exhilaration for Carlow in the Under 16C Final as they got the better of Mayo by 3-11 to 0-8 at the St Rynagh’s complex in Banagher on Saturday.
It is an indication of the strides being made in Mayo that they would have a team in an All-Ireland at this level and their performance bodes well for the future of the game there.
Carlow are further down the road in terms of development however, and they also had in Player of the Match Catherine Kavanagh, an individual capable of producing on the biggest day. The Mount Leinster Rangers full-forward scored 3-4 to ensure the silverware was destined for the Leinster county.
Mayo showed no hint of nerves early on. Erin Murray opened the scoring for Miriam Page’s outfit and they led 3-1 after 10 minutes.
Carlow’s half-forward line began to get to grips with proceedings at that juncture though and Pat English’s team had edged in front by the time Kavanagh showed her poacher’s instinct to nip in and flick the sliotar beyond Anna Durkin for her first goal.
She had another within two minutes of the restart and it looked all over when Carlow moved 10 points clear thanks to some glorious scores from long distance, one from an Abbie Foley free and two from play by Caoimhe Coady.
Mayo exhibited their determination though and Murray’s switch to midfield enabled them to gain a better foothold in the tie. Saoirse O’Brien and Hannah Tener notched up nice points and eye-catching centre-back Eva Lambert drove over a brilliant point to reduce the margin to seven.
They needed a goal but with captain Rachel Breen and Chloe Cody in obdurate form in the Carlow full-back line, the nearest they got was when Brianna Bruton sent a ball into the danger zone only for Carlow goalie Sarah Jane Doran to clear under pressure from Ellen Tener.
Instead, it was Carlow who made the net bulge, Kavanagh doing the needful six minutes from time and adding a brace of late points to remove all doubt.
In the Reserves Competition decider at MacDonagh Park, Sabrina Rabbitte scored 4-4 as Galway got the better of Cork by 7-6 to 2-10. Late goals from Lucy McNulty and Kate O’Shea put a better gloss on the scoreline for the Rebels but the goal-hungry Galway attack had put the tie to bed long before then.
Cork actually opened the scoring thanks to an O’Shea point but goals from Rabbitte, Chloe Farragher and Rabbitte again made it 3-5 to 0-6 at the interval.
Rabbitte completed her hat-trick two minutes after the restart and there was no way back for Cork. Fodhla Ní Bhraonáin, Rabbitte and Laura Kelly raised further green flags by the three-quarter mark, before Cork showed their battling qualities with those closing majors.