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By C¾ilÝn Duffy

David Kennedy’s charges blitzed through the weekend, hosted by UUJ; with a strong back-bone in defence with goalkeeper Mags Darcy of Wexford, Tipperary’s Mairead Luttrell, Wexford dual-star Mary Leacy and Leona Monaghan of Galway churning out strong performances in both the semi-final and final.

WIT relied heavily on the input of Wexford’s Ursula Jacob from frees as their forwards couldn’t get motoring due to a strong UCD defensive display.

First-half goals from Laois’s Aine Mahony, and a Rena Buckley penalty strike gave the champions a 2-5 to 0-4 interval lead, with both goals coming inside the opening quarter.

Kildare’s Suzy O’Carroll also made a strong input to a resounding UCD display which was added to in the second half with a brace of goals in the third quarter from Una Leacy, while -ine Mahony sealed the win, with her side’s fifth goal, eight minutes from the end, with a powerful strike from the left wing.

UCD’s victory keeps their hopes for a first three in a row since 1986-1988 alive for next year’s competition.

In the Ashbourne Shield Final, which was also hosted at Casement Park, following semi-final victories over CIT and UUJ respectively, UL and UCC played out a thrilling encounter before the Limerick side emerged three point winners by 4-9 to 2-12 in an entertaining decider.

UL got off to a positive start in this game thanks to an early goal from Waterford’s Aine Lyng but goals from top-scorer Aoife McLoughney and Kilkenny’s Mary Dalton in the final eight minutes of the opening half, ensured the Cork University took a 2-5 to 1-4 interval lead.

UCC started the second half well, with Grainne Kennelly taking a point but goals from Tina Hannon and -ine Lyng propelled UL into the lead.

Despite UCC continuing to perform strongly they couldn’t convert their possession to much needed scorers as UL pulled away in the closing ten minutes, with a Caroline Kelly goal sealing the win.

Shield Scorers:
UL: A Lyng (1-3f) 2-3; T Hannon, C Kelly 1-0 each; C Johnson, E Maher 0-2 each; M Coleman 0-1.
UCC: A McLoughney 1-8 (2f); M Dalton 1-0; O Cotter, G Kennelly 0-2 each.

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