Compiled by Daragh Ó Conchúir
NINE points from Chloe Foxe propelled St Martin’s to the final of the AIB All-Ireland Senior Club Championship as a result of a 0-11 to 0-5 win over Inniscarra at WIT Carriganore.
They will face the considerable task of attempting to dethrone an all-conquering Slaughtneil side that kept their three-in-a-row dreams alive with a typically resilient 0-8 to 0-4 defeat of Ardrahan in the Donaghmore Ashbourne grounds.
It wasn’t looking good for St Martin’s at half-time, as they led by just 0-5 to 0-4, having failed to capitalise on a very strong wind and trouble an Inniscarra rearguard in which Rena Buckley excelled.
Foxe need a couple of early sighters to get going but settled down once opening the scoring with a fourth-minute free and put on an exhibition of shooting in the second half.
Inniscarra had plenty of possession in that opening period, with Katie O’Mahony extremely influential. Her long ball led to a seventh-minute penalty for the Cork champions, as Niamh McCarthy was hauled down by Noeleen Lambert but the defender made amends by saving Niamh Dilworth’s vicious strike, although Dilworth latched onto the rebound to equalise.
O’Mahony was involved again as Aileen Sheehan pointed, though there was a real goal opportunity with Inniscarra having a three-on-one situation. Lettie Whelan levelled with a brilliant point from the right, before Linda Bolger and Foxe (free) doubled the scores.
Inniscarra still appeared comfortable however and points from Dilworth (45) and Ellen Murphy restored parity. Sheila Walsh was forced to make an excellent save from Whelan and though Foxe did restore the Wexford side’s lead, it didn’t look enough.
JJ Doyle undoubtedly had stern words with his crew at the break and they showed far more intensity in the second half, reaching a pitch that Inniscarra couldn’t match.
With O’Mahony no longer managing to get on the ball, Martin’s got on top around the middle. The pressure drew frees and Foxe punished the transgressions, landing two within seven minutes of the restart. Later on, she struck a brace of scores with her right foot almost touching the right sideline and struck six points in all in the second half.
In the meantime, Inniscarra managed just one in that period, from Murphy, and even if the wind was not as strong as earlier on, the inability to put Mags D’Arcy under any pressure until the dying minutes scuppered their chances.
Ferocious workrate and a trademark all-action effort by Shannon Graham buttressed Slaughtneil’s latest triumph. Graham, Tina Hannon, Siobhán Bradley and Éilís Ní Chaiside split the posts as the Robert Emmett’s moved into a three-point lead by the 10th minute.
Ardrahan managed to get to grips with the elements though and would have been delighted going in at half time trailing by just one point, 0-4 to 0-3 after Rebecca Hennelly’s successful conversion of two frees.
Ava Lynskey brought the teams level soon after the resumption and you wondered if this might be the day that the phenomenal run from the Derry gaelgóirí might be about to come to an end at the hands of the Galwegians.
They have been in similar positions before however and once again found the wherewithal to grind it out, winning all the key battles and making little of facing the wind. Pointed frees by Hannon and Louise Dougan, and another score from play by the effervescent Graham saw them advance to what is quickly becoming their second home, Croke Park.
Clonduff overturned a two-point interval deficit to ensure an Ulster double over Galway opposition, as they beat Craughwell by 1-8 to 0-9 at Coralstown/Kinnegad to qualify for the Intermediate decider.
Craughwell led by 0-6 to 0-4 at the break but a goal from Sara-Louise Carr at the beginning of the final quarter got the Down contingent over the line.
They will meet Gailltír in the final, after the Waterford representatives defeated St Rynagh’s at Cashel King Cormacs, 3-8 to 0-12. Siobhán Flannery was unerring for the Offaly outfit but Clodagh Carroll struck the decisive blow with Gaill Tír’s third goal, to supplement the excellence of Annie Fitzgerald and Áine Lyng and cement a trip to Headquarters.