Kilkerrin-Clonberne defeated three-in-a-row chasing Mourneabbey to claim their first-ever currentaccount.ie All-Ireland LGFA senior club championship title in Birr.
On an afternoon of high drama, the Galway champions were deserving winners, shutting down Mourenabbey’s attack and restricting the Cork side, who beat them in the 2019 decider, to a single point from open play.
The winners had heroes all over the pitch, not least Olivia Divilly who was a danger whenever in possession. Claire Dunleavy, Louise Ward and Chloe Miskell also played their part in a memorable victory for Willie Ward’s side.
It was disappointment for Shane Ronayne and the defending champions. They wasted a couple of decent goal chances but in truth, failed to replicate the superb performances that brought them to another All-Ireland final. Credit to the Cork club though for fighting bravely right up until the bitter end.
This was Kilkerrin-Clonberne’s day however, and what a boost for Galway football.
A tense start saw neither side make much of an impression before Doireann O’Sullivan converted a free. Eva Noone (free) levelled it up soon after but scores remained hard to come by during a physical opening quarter.
Then, a moment of magic lit up St Brendan’s Park. A sweeping hand-passing move ended with Kilkerrin-Clonberne’s Chloe Miskell finding the bottom corner of the net for a sublime goal.
The Galway side were on top all over the pitch, shutting down their opponents attack and pressing forward in numbers. Another converted Doireann O’Sullivan free saw an out-of-sorts Mourneabbey reach the first water break 1-1 to 0-2 behind.
Admirably, Kilkerrin-Clonberne refused to take their foot off the gas and dominated the early stages of the second quarter. Olivia Divilly, Ailish Morrissey and Nicola Ward points extended the Galway side’s advantage.
Mourneabbey wasted a golden opportunity after 23 minutes. A rare wayward Lisa Murphy kick-out was gathered by Roisin O’Sullivan. An open goal at her mercy, O’Sullivan failed to find the target and Murphy breathed a sigh of relief.
Doireann O’Sullivan and Olivia Divilly exchanged frees but Kilkerrin-Clonberne remained in the ascendancy, highlighted by two blocks in quick succession to deny their opposing attack. Ailish Morrissey’s second point made it 1-6 to 0-4 following another Doireann O’Sullivan free on the stroke of half-time.
A major turning point occurred immediately after, however. Ciara O’Sullivan slalomed through the Kilkerrin-Clonberne defence only to be brought down just inside the 20-metre line. Referee Kevin Phelan awarded a penalty which was expertly dispatched into the net by Laura Fitzgerald, her first shot on target.
Instead of being five points down, a relieved Mourenabbey changed ends just two behind, 1-6 to 1-4.
Both goalkeepers, Lisa Murphy and Meabh O’Sullivan, were called into action immediately after the restart. It was a time period Mourenabbey were guilty of squandering two goal chances either side of a another Doireann O’Sullivan free.
The Cork side reduced the deficit to a single point from another free but Mourenabbey came within the width of a crossbar from hitting the front when Ciara O’Sullivan’s effort struck the woodwork. Kilkerrin-Clonberne kicked three bad wides in the same period.
A closing quarter in which Mourneabbey lost Niamh O’Sullivan and Doireann O’Sullivan to sin-binning offences didn’t detract a determined Kilkerrin-Clonberne team from achieving their ultimate goal.
Ciara O’Sullivan scored her side’s only point from open play with nine minutes to go. Two Olivia Divilly frees plus additional Louise Ward and Eva Noone efforts completed a 1-11 to 1-7 Kilkerrin-Clonberne victory and unforgettable afternoon for the new and deserving All-Ireland champions.
O Divilly (0-5, 0-3 frees), C Miskell (1-0), A Morrissey, E Noone (0-2 each), N Ward, L Ward (0-1 each).
D O’Sullivan (0-6, 0-6 frees), L Fitzgerald (1-0, 1-0 pen), C O’Sullivan (0-1).
L Murphy; A Costello, S Gormally, C Costello; S Fahy, N Ward, C Dunleavey, N Ward; S Divilly, H Noone; O Divilly, L Ward (captain), L Noone; E Noone, C Miskell, A Morrissey.
N Divilly for C Miskella (42), K Mee for S Fahy (47), N Daly for A Morrissey (42), M Flanagan for L Noone (60).
M O’Sullivan; M Burke, E Meaney, K Coakley; A Ryan, M O’Callaghan, E Jack; E Coakley, N O’Sullivan; E Harrington, R O’Sullivan, B O’Sullivan (captain); C O’Sullivan, D O’Sullivan, L Fitzgerald.
A Cronin for E Harrington (40), D Cronin for E Jack (52), A O’Sullivan for M Burke (57).
Kevin Phelan (Laois).