A goal from super sub Louise Walsh in the dying minutes ensured that Kildare would be All-Ireland champions for the first time in 20 years when denying Armagh in the Gala All-Ireland junior A final in Ashbourne by 3-10 to 2-8.
It was heartbreak for the Orchard County girls who lost last year’s decider to Roscommon after a replay and for long stages they looked like they would go one step further this time around.
It wasn’t to be though as Walsh followed up on a 50th minute goal from Mary Murtagh goal to stun the Ulster girls.
A couple of goals in the opening quarter from Andrea McAlinden and Joanne Mallon pushed Armagh into a six point lead but with the brilliant Róisín O’Connell contributing three of her four points from play and Orla Mullally goaling from close range, the Lilies trailed by just 2-5 to 1-6 at the interval.
McAlinden almost snatched a second goal but she was denied by a smart save from Kildare custodian, Brid Byrne.
Despite the promptings of Carol Nolan, Clodagh Flanagan, Siobhán Hurley and Ciara Tallon, Kildare were finding it difficult to break down Armagh, for whom Colette McSorley was unerring from frees.
Then came Murtagh’s goal from 40m after Catherine Toner lost sight of the sliotar in the sun and suddenly Kildare had the lead. When Walsh found the net with time running out, the celebrations could begin.
Derry’s superior goal threat was the key as they took the honours in the All-Ireland minor B final with a 3-10 to 0-9 victory over Antrim.
A Mary Jo McCullagh goal, after good work from Danielle McCrystal and Ailish Cassidy, helped the Oak Leaf girls lead by 1-6 to 0-5 at half time, while Mary Kelly and Gráinne McNicholl raised green flags after the resumption.
Despite the 10-point margin, the champions could thank the brilliance of goalkeeper Niamh McQuillan however for their success. The netminder made three brilliant saves from Samantha McKillen, Anna Devlin and Rebecca Walsh and was named player of the match.
Aimee McAtanney tried to keep Antrim in touch from placed balls but with Karen Kielt, sister of senior football star James, doing likewise and McQuillan unbeatable, it was Derry’s day.