IT WAS a pillar-to-post victory for Clonduff as they grabbed their first AIB All-Ireland Intermediate Club Camogie title but they were pushed all the way by a youthful Gailltír side.
Victorious skipper Paula Gribben was the driving force for the Down women with an all-action display but had more than ample support from the Carr sisters, Sara-Louise and Fionnuala, who scored four points between them on the 25th anniversary of their father Ross securing his second All-Ireland Senior football title with Down.
The trio were one of 10 players that were members of the Down team that lost the All-Ireland Intermediate Final last September and so were putting those bad memories to rest.
The big news before throw-in was that dual All-Ireland winner with Waterford, three-time Soaring Star and seven-time All-Ireland Poc Fada champion Trish Jackman, who is a lecturer in the University of Lincoln, was making her first start since Gailltír’s All-Ireland Semi-Final loss to Eglish two years ago.
Jackman was sited at full-forward but could only look on as Clonduff flew out of the traps and twice built up a five-point advantage.
That included the first five scores of the game, Gribben converting three frees and a 45, and Sara-Louise Carr firing over a brilliant point.
Annie Fitzgerald would play a key role in dragging Gailltír back into proceedings, getting her side’s opening score from play and converting a free immediately after being fouled.
Sara-Louise Carr stretched Clonduff’s advantage once more with a neat point and that score was quickly followed by a monstrous one from the middle of the field by Fionnuala to make it 7-2.
But Gailltír were settling into the game and getting a real return when running at the heart of the Clonduff defence, with Fitzgerald in particular a constant thorn, while Áine Lyng and Emma Roche began to exert a greater influence in deeper positions to provide more of a platform for the pacy attackers.
They struck the last three points of the half via the sticks of Clodagh Carroll and Fitzgerald (45 and a free) to trail 0-7 to 0-6 at the interval.
They might have gone in ahead though, as Fitzgerald was put through by Jackman in injury time, only for Clare Gilligan to first make a brilliant hook and then foul the marauding centre-forward. Lyng took the resultant penalty but it was saved by a combination of Karen Haughey and then Sara-Louise Carr in the last action of the half.
The second period followed a similar trend as Clonduff dominated the third quarter, Sara-Louise Carr banging over her third point and Gribben, who was picking up so much ball around the middle third, putting four between them once more from a placed ball.
Gailltír took over from then on but will rue near-misses with shots for goal from Jackman, Carroll and Fitzgerald.
The latter reduced the margin to the minimum with three scores, the third from play in the 58th minute after wonderful work by Kate Lynch, but crucially Gribben responded with a fantastic conversion of a free outside the 45 after a heavy challenge on Megan O’Reilly.
Lyng made it a one-point game once more from a free but Clonduff defended resolutely to hold out.
SCORERS FOR CLONDUFF: P Gribben 0-6(5fs, 1 45); SL Carr 0-3; F Carr 0-1
SCORERS FOR GAILLTÍR: Annie Fitzgerald 0-7(4fs, 2 45s); C Carroll, A Lyng (f) 0-1 each
CLONDUFF: K Haughey, N O’Hagan, J Boden, S Murphy, C McGilligan, E Rafferty, F Carr, B Fitzpatrick, C Cowan, C Fitzpatrick, SL Carr, P Gribben, O Gribben, K McGilligan. Subs: M O’Reilly for Rafferty (ht), R Mulholland for C Fitzpatrick (57)
GAILLTÍR: C Jackman, E Mahony, M Heffernan, C Dunne, L Sheridan, E Roche, H Flynn, S Fitzgerald, A Lyng, C Carroll, Annie Fitzgerald, K Lynch, A Corcoran, T Jackman, E Walsh. Subs: C O’Sulivan for Walsh (ht), Aoife Fitzgerald for Corcoran (ht), Corcoran for Carroll (54)
REFEREE: J McDonagh (Galway)