This is the second year in succession that Kinsale have suffered All-Ireland final heartache, following their defeat to Dublin’s Naomh Maur in the 2016 junior decider. Cork senior star Orla Finn (in tandem with Sadhbh O’Leary) led the way for Michael O’Connor’s side, but thanks to Blayney’s terrific score in the closing stages, it was Dunboyne who ultimately prevailed.
The Leinster champions had broken the deadlock with an early point from corner-forward Aoife Thompson, and this was followed by a superb Emma Duggan goal in the eighth minute. Yet, after a Finn score got Kinsale up and running, a neat finish to the Dunboyne net by O’Leary (an All-Ireland minor winner with Cork this year) brought them on level terms.
They began to exert their authority with unanswered points courtesy of Faye Ahern, O’Leary and Finn, but Dunboyne eventually responded through Vikki Wall and Thompson. Swapped scores between Finn and Thompson preceded an Ellen Murphy point for Kinsale, before Finn bagged their second goal of the contest with a clinical strike on 22 minutes.
However, Duggan and Fiona O’Neill pointed to bring Dunboyne back into contention — and although Aoife Keating fired back at the opposite end, an unstoppable Wall three-pointer reduced the gap to the bare minimum.
There was enough time for O’Neill to restore parity in time for the interval (2-7 apiece), and a neat Duggan point from a right-hand angle moved Dunboyne back into the ascendancy on the resumption. O’Leary produced a swift reply for Kinsale at the end of a solo run, only for Dunboyne to register back-to-back scores through full-forward Wall and Sinead Hackett.
There was no reason for the Leesiders to panic just yet, though, and they levelled matters once more with a point each from team captain O’Leary and Finn (free). Indeed, this absorbing tie remained delicately poised after Finn and O’Leary issued direct responses to Thompson and O’Neill points for Dunboyne. Yet, when she picked up possession inside the Kinsale ’45’ seven minutes from the end, Blayney split the uprights with aplomb.
This meant that Kinsale had to chase for an equalising score in the closing minutes, but thanks to disciplined work from their defence, Dunboyne held firm for a hard-earned success in north Dublin.
V Wall (0-1f), E Duggan 1-2 each, A Thompson 0-4 (2f), F O’Neill 0-3, D Blayney, S Hackett 0-1 each.
O Finn 1-5 (0-2f), S O’Leary 1-3, A Keating 0-2, E Murphy, F Ahern 0-1 each.
A O’Sullivan; R McDermott, E O’Byrne, C Barker; B Hickey, E Doyle, A Moffatt; D Blayney, J Kavanagh; E Duggan, S Melia, S Hackett; F O’Neill, V Wall, A Thompson.
K Birmingham for McDermott (39), C Keenan for Hickey (40), A Jones for Kavanagh (54).
A Judge; E O’Brien, A Lynch, C Keohane; L Copithorne, C O’Callaghan, T McCarthy; N Quinn, G Gould; E Murphy, J Murphy, F Ahern; A Keating, S O’Leary, O Finn.
G Buckley for E Murphy (39), J Cronin for Keating (53), D Tyner for Gould (56), A Lee for Copithorne (59).
B Rice (Down).