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St Lactain’s power to first title

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St Lactain’s (Kilkenny) 2-8 Granagh-Ballingarry (Limerick) 0-7
By Brendan O’Brien
ST LACHTAIN’S of Freshford captured their first All-Ireland senior club camogie title yesterday, defeating champions Granagh-Ballingarry at Parnell Park.

The Kilkenny ladies showed few nerves in their first ever final, asking searching questions of the champions’ backline while staying resolute at the back under the steadying influence of full-back Gillian Dillon Maher.

Granagh’s Eileen O’Brien opened the scoring with a couple of well-taken frees as both attacks struggled against dominant defences. The Limerick side were settling well though and St Lachtain’s plainly needed a calming first score as reward for their early endeavours. That it was a goal was all the sweeter, with Imelda Kennedy poking the sliotar home under Breda O’Brien after 14 minutes.

That was the platform St Lachtain’s needed and, although Granagh responded with two quick points from Aoife Sheehan and O’Brien in the next eight minutes, the wind was very much in the challengers’ sails.

Three points from Imelda Kennedy, Sinead Connery and Anne Dalton inched them into a deserved 1-3 to 0-4 lead approaching the break but the gap could, and should, have been a whole lot wider.

Granagh needed to take control after the interval but instead found themselves hanging on desperately against another sustained bout of direct attacking play through the centre.

Maire O’Connor again saw a goal chance slip away as her palmed effort hit the rigging after 35 minutes. But elsewhere, Imelda Kennedy was finding success easier to come by, adding two more points in the first ten minutes of the second half.

The Freshford skipper spent the entire afternoon tussling with Deirdre Sheehan and, well and all as the Granagh captain battled, Kennedy’s tally of 1-4 - all bar one of the points coming from open play - tells its own tale.

You don’t win three All-Irelands in six years without a bit of backbone though and Granagh had three white flags midway through the half to leave just a solitary point between the sides, 1-5 to 0-7.

With Granagh snapping at their heels again, Freshford went through the gears and kicked for the finishing line in an impressive fashion. Kennedy set the tone with a pointed free while Dalton’s second score of the afternoon with three minutes to go left a goal between them.

Any hope the champions had of drawing level were quashed in injury-time when O’Connor palmed the sliotar past keeper O’Brien and seconds later Imelda Kennedy fittingly put the seal on the afternoon with the game’s last point.

In the All-Ireland Junior final, Liatroim Fontenoys of Down enjoyed a 4-13 to 0-8 win over Roscommon’s Four Roads.

GRANAGH: B O’Brien; B Molloy, M Nash, M O’Gorman; K Burke, B Chawke, D Sheehan; V Sheehan (0-1), M Collins; J Cullinane, E O’Brien (0-4, 3f), A Sheehan (0-1); F Chawke, F Morrissey, J Clifford (0-1). Sub: A McCarthy for F Chawke, 44.

ST LACTAIN’S: S Costelloe; D Minogue, G Dillon Maher, M Lawlor; D Delaney, M Costelloe, A Connery; E Kennedy, A Fitzpatrick; M Kavanagh, S Connery (0-1), I Kennedy (1-4, 1f); A Dalton (0-1), M O’Connor (1-0), E Fitzpatrick. Sub: A Purcell for E Fitzpatrick, 50

Referee: L Davitt (Westmeath).