Goals win games and five crackers from Garron Tower’s Ashling Ward gave St Patrick’s Keady too steep a hill to climb in this entertaining Fr Davies’ Cup final in Casement Park on Saturday.
And the speedy full-forward picked the most opportune moments to find the net!
She began as early as the opening minute, when Alex McLaughlin’s free fell short and she pulled first time on the block-down.
Keady replied with two points from Ciara Donnelly before her second arrived in the ninth minute.
Keady dominated the rest of the first half, their half-back line and midfield taking control with Lucy Conway and Ciara Donnelly cuasing problems up front.
But the Garron Tower defence held it together with the intensity of their tackling and they broke for Mairi Mulvenna to score their third goal in the 28th minute – a score that left the Tower in front 3-1 to 0-5 at the break.
Ashling Ward buried a third goal within a minute of the restart, and although Orla Murray did likewise for Keady, Ward rounded her player once more in the 48th minute.
The last 10 minutes though saw intense Keady pressure and Ciara Donnelly’s goal from a free in the 60th minute narrowed the gap to just three points – 5-3 to 2-9.
However in injury time, Ashling Ward finished them off with her fifth for a first ever title for the Tower at this level.
Ashling Ward certainly stole the headlines, but that only disguises a good team work ethic in her side with the midfield pairing of Alex McLaughlin and Maeve Connolly getting through a serious amount of work and the defence as a whole very solid.
St MacNissi’s : N Cosgrove, A Burke, C Campbell, A Connolly, B Convery, B Heggarty, C Patterson, A McLaughlin 0-1 free, M Connolly, T McDonnell, M McManus capt, S McAlister, M Mulvenna 1-2, A Ward 5-0, F McDonnell.
Subs : P Abram for B Convery (ht), D Scally for A Connolly (43).
St Patrick’s Keady : L Toner, H McGeown, B Rafferty, L Comiskey capt, C Conway, M Grimley, A Doyle, O Murray 1-1, 0-1 free, O Curry, K Sheridan, L Conway, C Donnelly 1-7, 1-5 frees, C Smyth, A Lavery, R Powell.
Subs : C McCooey for B Rafferty (36), E Murphy for R Powell (44), M Morgan 0-1 for A Lavery (44).
Referee : Padraig Mullan (St Brigid’s Belfast)
Ulster Colleges’ Senior A Camogie Final (Corn Uan Uladh) :
St Mary’s Magherafelt 3-8 Cross & Passion Ballycastle 1-8
Early goals left holders Cross & Passion Ballycastle floundering in this Ulster Colleges’ Senior final in Casement Park and not even a spirited second half fight-back could prevent the title heading to south Derry once more.
St Mary’s Magherafelt bounced back from last season’s five point defeat to Cross and Passion and claimed the school’s ninth title in this their 16th consecutive final – and they were fully deserving of this latest success.
Keelin Bradley burst through for the opening score – a fourth minute goal – and she was involved in the build-up to the second goal a few minutes later, Rachel Kelly the finisher.
Those goals hurt the holders and indeed St Mary’s created several more openings during the first half and could have been further ahead than 3-4 to 0-3 at the break.
Their third goal had arrived when a huge free from the excellent Aileen McCusker came off Eimear Murphy’s stick in the 28th minute.
Two more second half points were added before the re-shuffled Ballycastle pack got a foothold in the game.
They outscored Magherafelt 1-5 to 0-2 over the last 20 minutes – but never looked like reeling them in.
Emma McMullan’s goal in the 48th minute gave them hope, but Aileen McCusker seemed to be everywhere, Janine McNeill in control at full-back and the half-forwards and midfield breaking down moves and carrying ball forward.
Magherafelt got out of the blocks early, built up their lead and confidence and, by the time Ballycastle got going with Emma Connor providing the impetus at midfield, they were too far ahead to lose.
There were big performances from the defence as a whole with Aileen McCusker a towering presence in the centre.
Christine McKenna and Danielle McCrystal ruled midfield until Emma Connor took a grip there during the second half, while Keelin Bradley and Eimear McKenna caused huge problems for Ballycastle throughout.
It was far from the performance we have come to expect from the north Antrim school, but Aoife Laverty and Laura Connolly coped best at the back, with fleeting glimpses of the ability of Emma Connor, Rebecca Walsh and Emma McMullan.
With a trip to Connacht in February, hopes must be high that the Magherafelt’s five survivors from the All-Ireland success of 2007 can add to their medal haul.
St Mary’s Magherafelt : C O’Kane, S Donaghy, J McNeill, C Wilkinson, R Mulholland, A McCusker capt 0-2 frees, J Loughlin, C McKenna, D McCrystal, R Kelly 1-1, K Bradley 1-1, C Quinn, S Maguire 0-2, E McKenna 0-1, E Murphy 1-1.
Subs : R M Rice for C Quinn, E Keenan for E Murphy.
Cross & Passion : L Watt, L Connolly, A Connolly, A Laverty, M Beattie, E Connolly, R Mooney capt, K Smyth 0-1, R Walsh 0-2 frees, S McKillen 0-1, C Neill, A McFadden, E McMullan 1-2, 0-1 free, E Connor 0-1, O O’Hara.
Subs : N Donnelly 0-1 for R Mooney (inj) , N Dobbin for O O’Hara, A Gormley for C Neill.
Referee : Una Kearney (Armagh).
Senior Medallion Shield final
St Colm’s Draperstown 3-5 St Louis Kilkeel 3-2
St Colm’s Draperstown had to come from behind to beat a determined St Louis Kilkeel in the Senior Medallion Shield final at Gortnamona on Saturday.
St Louis Kilkeel controlled the opening half and led by 2-1 to 0-3 at the break.
Christina Treanor picked up a loose ball and rifled to the net and Caoimhe Poland was in the right place at the right time to grab a second after 21 minutes.
However the Derry girls upped the pace for the second half and Teresa Kelly pulled them into contention with a goal.
Although Sophie Colgan responded with a point, Draperstown hit the front with two goals from Mary Jo McCullagh, the second a beautiful volley from 10 metres out.
Mary Jo added a point, but a goal from Carrie Killen left a nervous last 10 minutes.
It was a solid Draperstown performance with Grace Kelly leading well around the middle. The difference though was probably Mary Jo McCullagh, who had a quiet enough first half, but her 2-1 in the second changed the game.
The Kilkeel goalie and her full-back line played very well with Colleen Fearon, Laura Brennan, Caoimhe Poland and Christina Treanor others to do well.
St Colm’s : K McNamee, L Grant, J McEldowney, G Conway, B McGillian, C Scullion, T Bradley, F Breen capt, M McCullagh, G Kelly, A Kelly, P McBride, M McIvor, M J McCullagh, P McNamee.
Subs : C Convery for M McIvor, L Murphy for F Breen, S O’Hagan for P McBride, T Kelly for P McNamee.
St Louis : R Quinn, O McParland, N Fitzpatrick, E McDowell, D Trimble, N Hughes, C Fearon, L Brennan, L Sloan, C Trainor, S Colgan, C Poland, C Morgan, D Harrison, C Killen
Subs : E Cunningham for C Morgan, R Colgan for D Harrison.
Referee : Julie O’Neill (Armagh).