TINA HANNON scored a goal and six points and was named player of the match for the second year in succession as Slaughtneil completed a remarkable AIB All-Ireland Intermediate Club Championship three-in-a-row while the snow fell at Croke Park.
And though the landmark has been achieved by four clubs on five previous occasions, Kilkenny powerhouses St Paul’s managing it twice, this is the first time a team from a county not operating at Senior level has done so.
That speaks volumes for the Carntogher crew, particularly as they were without three of last year’s victorious side and still produced their best Final performance.
As usual, while former Offaly star Hannon might have been the headline act, she had no shortage of backing, Bróna Ní Chaiside, Aoife Ní Chaiside, Shannon Graham, Louise Dougan and Faoiltiarna Burke among the highlight performers.
As newcomers to this stage, St Martin’s probably could have done with a good start but the opposite occurred as Hannon cut inside from the left and shot for point in the fourth minute. She didn’t catch it properly however, and to the horror of four-time Wexford All-Ireland winner and two-time All-Star Mags D’Arcy, the sliotar dropped into the corner of the net.
Josie McMullan added a point soon after and though Emma Codd got St Martin’s off the mark in the 10th minute, Slaughtneil struck five of the next six points, including two classy efforts from play by Hannon and another brace from placed balls, as well as a smart finish on the swivel by Graham.
Chloe Foxe converted a free for St Martin’s and they did have the last say of the half as Linda Bolger raised a white flag from a poor puckout by Joelene Bradley, with the rain teeming down.
That left it 1-6 to 0-3 at the interval and as the rain transitioned into sleet and then heavy snow, Slaughtneil quickly went about putting the game to bed.
Hannon did the needful from a free within seconds of the restart and then fed Aoife Ní Chaiside, who sprang forward from centre-back to split the uprights and put eight between them.
St Martin’s tried all they knew but they needed a goal and Bradley saved Codd’s 47th minute penalty to maintain a stunning record of not conceding a major since the opening quarter of last year’s All-Ireland Final.
Slaughtneil went into protective mode and St Martin’s fired the last three points via Bolger, Foxe (free) and Lettie Whelan but for the third year in a row, there would be no denying Slaughtneil.
SCORERS FOR SLAUGHTNEIL: T Hannon 1-7(0-5fs); S Graham, A Ní Chaiside (0-1 each)
SCORERS FOR ST MARTIN’S: C Foxe 0-3(fs); L Bolger 0-2; E Codd, L Whelan 0-1 each
SLAUGHTNEIL: J Bradley, G O’Kane, B Ní Chaiside, C McEldowney, E Ní Chaiside, A Ní Chaiside, B McAllister, S Graham, F Burke, L Dougan, T Hannon, S Bradley, T Mellon, J McMullan, S Mellon. Subs: N Glass for T Mellon (56), C Ni Mhianáin for McMullan (60+2), E McGrath for McAllister (60+2)
ST MARTIN’S: M D’Arcy, A O’Connor, N Lambert, MC Morrissey, A Ennis, K O’Connor, M Barrett, C O’Connor, E O’Connor, A Cardiff, L Bolger, C Foxe, E Codd, A Cronin, L Whelan. Subs: L Firman for Ennis (41), A Hennessy for E O’Connor (41), A Ryan for K O’Connor (53), S O’Connor for Whelan (60+2)
REFEREE: L Dempsey (Kilkenny)