By Daragh Ó Conchúir
Johnstownbridge (Kildare) 2-10
Athleague (Roscommon) 0-7
Johnstownbridge led from start to finish on the way to winning the AIB All-Ireland junior club camogie title at Kinnegad but it needed a 60th minute goal from player of the match Louise Codd, followed by two points from the excellent Siobhán Hurley, to finally kill off a gritty Athleague.
Dick Flanagan’s side dominated the opening half despite playing into a breeze and really should have been further ahead than 1-5 to 0-3 at half time.
In all, they registered nine wides throughout, while Paula Daly made fabulous saves from Hurley and Róisín O’Connell, while there were three or further other occasions when Johnstownbridge forwards eschewed easy point opportunities in favour of fruitless attempts at goals.
Such profligacy kept Athleague in touch and they enjoyed their own period of dominance for 20 minutes of the second half, with Rachel Fitmaurice sparking a turnaround in fortunes in the midfield battle.
The pacey midfielder won plenty of possession and shot three points but crucially, Athleague rarely threatened a goal, as Eimear Hurley and the magnificent Aisling Holton, who must have been very prominent in the conversation for player-of-the-match honours, stood firm in an unyielding defence.
There was one chance, when a long delivery took a strong bounce off the synthetic surface in the goal area and Tanya Johnson showed remarkably quick reflexes to deflect the sliotar away as it looked destined for the top right-hand corner.
Codd, Hurley, Clodagh Flanagan and Holton shone as Johnstownbridge held sway in the first half and O’Connell batted expertly to the net to help establish a seven-point lead. Annette McKeeney and Fiona Connell-Jones shot points just before half time to maintain a manageable gap at the break.
A brace of points by Codd opened up a seven-point margin once more but Fitzmaurice and a more advanced Kelley Hopkins thundered into the fray and pinned their Kildare opponents back. The midfielder slotted three points and the gap was down to four.
Codd, who had faded out of the game as Fitzmaurice exerted her influence, came up with a significant play though and after good work from Hurley, sent a long delivery goalwards that deceived the unsighted Daly as O’Connell and Éala Coyle jumped in front of her, and bounced to the roof of the net.
Hurley added two points in injury time and the celebrations could begin.
SCORERS – JOHNSTOWNBRIDGE: L Codd 1-4; S Hurley 0-5(2fs); R O’Connell 1-0; J O’Donoghue 0-1
ATHLEAGUE: R Fitzmaurice 0-3; K Hopkins 0-2(1f); A McGeeney, F Connell-Jones(f) 0-1 each
JOHNSTOWNBRIDGE: T Johnson, E McEvoy, E Hurley, F Blake, C Farrell, J Murphy, A Holton, L Codd, C Flanagan, A Trant, J O’Donoghue, C Hurley, R O’Connell, S Hurley, C Mooney. Sub: S Beatty
ATHLEAGUE: P Daly, N Conway, E Daly, E Coyle, N Brandon, K Hopkins, N Brennan, M Brennan, R Fitzmaurice, R Brennan, A McGeeney, C Whyte-Lennon, L Kelly, R Fallon, F Connell-Jones. Sub: L Keenan
REFEREE: E Cassidy (Derry)