Playing with sheer grit and determination against the gale force wind the girls from Christ the King covered themselves in glory as they annexed their first All Ireland colleges Senior B title at a blustery Feenagh on Saturday.
On four occasions the sides were level. St. Killian’s looked to have it wrapped up entering injury time but digging deep and calling on all their resources it was the Cork girls who snatched victory after an enthralling hour of camogie.
The underfoot conditions were not the best. The Christ the King mentors must have been concerned that it was level pegging 0-8 to 2-2 at the interval as they had to turn to play with the gale blowing into their faces after St Killian’s had given a super opening thirty minutes.
Rachel Spellman’s goal had edged the Galway girls ahead at the end of the opening quarter after Katriona Mackey had converted three Christ the King frees in reply to Caoimhe Staunton’s sixth minuet point. Julia White and Mackey edged Christ the King ahead with points but they continued to find the going tough against a close marking St Killian’s defence who at this stage were employing an extra player in defence in an effort to close down the Christ the King attack.
Niamh Mc Grath showed her class pointing a magnificent long range free against the wind to tie the sides up but again Mackey and White responded with points. Christ the King were grateful to the vigilance of keeper Jessica Kavanagh who denied Rachel Burns from point blank range as the rebound stuck in the mud before being scrambled to safety. Three minutes from half time Michelle Skehill struck for a gem of a goal but sweeping up field Christ the King won a free which Mackey duly pointed to tie the sides up at the break.
With the wind gaining momentum St Killian’s got the second half off to the perfect start as Rachel Burns finally got the better of Jessica Kavanagh and from the puck out they stretched their lead to four points thanks to Niamh Mc Grath.
Digging deep Christ the King responded their defence superbly marshalled by
Captain Aine Moynihan at centre back closing down the St Killian’s attack holding them score less for twelve minutes as the wind howled into their faces. Up front Julia White pointed from play before Ailin O Donovan had the side’s level for the third time palming the ball over the heads of defender and attacker to the back of the net. Mackey pointed from play to put two between the sides but upping their game St Killian’s were back on level with twelve minutes remaining with points from Michelle Skehill and Caoimhe Staunton.
With the elements taking their toll on players from both sides it was going to be a survival of the fittest and it was two minutes into injury time before we had another score Niamh Mc Grath pointing to edge St Killian’s ahead. It looked to be curtains for the Turners Cross girls but ironically a break in play for an injury to keeper Jessica Kavanagh gave them a renewed energy that in the finish was to be vital, the break in play helping them regroup and refocus.
Twice they attacked as they entered the fourth minute of injury time but the St Killian’s defence held firm and it looked as if they would hold out. From a clearance substitute Aisling Byrne won possession and her excellent cross was first timed to the net by Emma Jordan. St Killian’s battled to get the ball up field but there was no way the Cork girls were allowing it, Ailin O Donovan pointed in the fifth minute of injury time to ensure the title was secured.
Captain Aine Moynihan was ecstatic at the full time whistle and the Ballygarvan girl was full of praise for her side,
“”We really knew at half time that we had not done ourselves justice and that playing with the strong wind we should have been ahead, we just went out and gave it everything in the second half and to be honest we didn’t seem bothered to be playing against the wind. We just held our heads when they went ahead and just plugged away when we got the goal at the end they just couldn’t respond. I am just thrilled to captain such a great group of players””
Scorers Christ the King: K Mackey 0-7 (0-5 f, 0-1 45), A. O Donovan 1-1, E Jordan 1-0, J White 0-3.
St Killian’s: M Skehill 1-1, R Spellman R Burns1-0 each, N Mc Grath 0-3 (0-2f), C. Staunton 0-2.
CHRIST THE KING: J. Kavanagh; C O Driscoll, M E O Donovan, S Long; M O Donovan, A Moynihan(c ),P Mackey; T Mc Carthy, C Lynch; M O Mahony, J White, K Mackey; E Jordan, C Murphy, A O Donovan.
Sub A. Byrne for M O Mahony (53)
ST KILLIAN’S: L Glynn; C Ward, N Glynn, S Byrnes; M Connaughton, T Kenny, C Kelly; S Staunton (c), C Mc Grath; C Staunton, N Mc Grath, M Skehill; R Byrnes, M Tierney, R Spellman
Sub C Mc Hugh for R Byrnes (55)
Referee J O Donnell (Limerick)