The 21-year-old’s second-half contribution of 2-7 saw Francie Friel’s side end Mourneabbey’s dream of completing a historic sweep of junior (2005), intermediate (2007) and senior titles as she helped overcome a four-point deficit at the turnaround.
“I can’t believe it,” said McLaughlin, who was named player of the match.
“We went in down at half-time, but that definitely wasn’t us. We knew we had to play our game in the second-half and if we did we’d come through.
“I think we went out at the start thinking of their game plan, but then we just changed to ours. That turned the game. The backs were unbelievable.
“We just couldn’t get going in the first-half. It was the first time all year we did that. We just had to go out and play the ball,” she added.
The Cork champions had contained McLaughlin in the opening half with some stand-out performances by Cathy Ann Stack and Aisling O’Sullivan in the rearguard, while Laura Fitzgerald helped herself to six first-half points as the Cork side turned over with a 0-10 to 1-3 advantage.
Upon the restart however, Shane Ronayne’s side collapsed as Termon hit them for two goals on the 44th and 55th minutes with Rebecca Larkin first in the sin-bin before Stack followed her 10 minutes later.
During the course of the game, Sligo referee Gus Chapman issued five yellow cards, with Gráinne McDaid and Emer Gallagher punished for Termon, while Sandra Conroy was the third Mourneabbey player to be sanctioned in the dying seconds of the game.
Mourneabbey had struggled in the middle period of the second-half but substitute Katie Healy’s goal with eight minutes remaining gave them hope, while a point by the impressive Ciara O’Sullivan saw them come within one (1-13 to 2-11) with five minutes left on the clock.
But McLaughlin managed to latch onto a high ball and outwit three defenders and see her left-footed shot trickle into the Mourneabbey net to seal the deal.
In a year that saw the Munster champions win their first ever Cork senior county championship title, manager Dominic Gallagher was hugely proud of his players despite the loss.
“This is so hard to take. I’m just gutted for the girls. They’ve put in such an effort since the start of the year that you have to ask what it is we have to do to win an All-Ireland? But I can’t describe how proud I am of them and hopefully we’ll regroup and be back here again next year,” he added.
Scorers for Termon: G McLaughlin 3-8 (0-4 frees), M O’Donnell 0-2 (frees), S McLaughlin and R Friel 0-1 each.
Scorers for Mourneabbey: L Fitzgerald 0-7 (0-4 frees), C O’Sullivan 0-4, K Healy 1-0, B O’Sullivan and R Harrington 0-1 each.
TERMON: L Gallagher; P McCafferty, E Gallagher, N McLaughlin; M Carr, T McCafferty, G McDaid; S McLaughlin, S McGroddy; O McCafferty, R McCafferty, L McElwaine; M O’Donnell, G McLaughlin (C), R Friel.
Subs: N Friel for L McElwaine (21), D Kelly for P McCafferty (53) and L McElwaine for M Carr (60).
MOURNEABBEY: M O’Sullivan; S Conroy, CA Stack, A O’Sullivan; R Larkin, R O’Sullivan (C), E Meaney; M O’Callaghan, N O’Sullivan; C O’Sullivan, B O’Sullivan, R Harrington; K Coakley, L Fitzgerald, D O’Sullivan.
Subs: K Healy for K Coakley (38), Miriam O’Callaghan for R Harrington (50), S O’Callaghan for N O’Sullivan (52).
Referee: G Chapman (Sligo).