Naomh Abán battle past Castleblayney challenge to reach All-Ireland junior decider

The Cork and Munster junior LGFA champions held their Monaghan opponents to two frees in the opening half of a hard-hitting encounter.
Naomh Abán battle past Castleblayney challenge to reach All-Ireland junior decider

Naomh Aban's Lydia Ni Dhonnacha. Pic: Patrick Browne

Naomh Abán 0-12 Castleblayney Faughs 0-7 

Naomh Abán will face Salthill-Knocknacarra in the Currentaccount.ie All-Ireland Junior final following victory over Castleblayney Faughs at Páirc Íosagáin in Ballyvourney on Sunday.

The Cork and Munster junior LGFA champions held their Monaghan opponents to two frees in the opening half of a hard-hitting encounter.

Naomh Abán stretched their advantage to seven heading into the closing stages only for a resurgent Castleblayney Faughs to mount a comeback. It wasn’t enough as late Allanagh Hoare and Grace Murphy scores cemented a famous win for the hosts.

Defences were on top throughout a tight opening half so it came as little surprise that the sides were level, one point apiece, at the end of the first quarter. Allanagh Hoare opened the scoring prior to Faugh’s Jodie McQuillan equalising from a free.

Grace Murphy (free) restored Naomh Abán’s advantage before Allanagh Hoare kicked her second point. Annie Maher burst through to make it 0-4 to 0-1 as a struggling Castleblayney’s Jodie McQuillan converted her second free after 28 minutes.

Defending solidly and breaking at pace, Naomh Abán finished the half strongly. Led by excellent centre-half Rósie Corkery, Lydia McDonagh evaded a couple of defenders to make it 0-5 to 0-2 at the break.

Amy McDonagh and Grace Murphy scores pushed the home side further ahead just after the break. Substitute Aimee Donnelly notched the visitors’ first score from open play after 34 minutes but a dominant Naomh Abán surged 0-10 to 0-4 ahead in the final quarter.

Roared on by a sizeable travelling support, Castleblayney’s Hazel Hughes, Jodie McQuillan and Orlaith Maguire points left a goal between the teams as full-time approached.

Two late points cemented Naomh Abán’s victory and qualification for an All-Ireland LGFA final.

Scorers for Naomh Abán: A Hoare and G Murphy (0-2 frees) 0-3 each, L McDonagh (0-1 free) and A Maher 0-2 each, A McDonagh and G Lucey 0-1 each.

Scorers for Castleblayney Faughs: J McQuillan 0-3 (0-3 frees), A Donnelly 0-2, H Hughes and O Maguire 0-1 each.

Naomh Abán: L Ní hAodha; U Ní Thuathaigh (captain), M Ní Dhuinnin, A Ní Chríodáin; E Ní Cheallaigh, R Ní Chorcora, M Ellen Ní Chéilleachair; A Ní Dhonnacha, G Ní Luasa; A Ní hUidhir, E Ní Mhurchú, C Ní Fhaoláin; A Ní Mheachair, L Ní Dhonnacha, G Ní Mhurchú.

Subs: J Kelly for E Murphy (blood, 30, J Kelly for E Murphy (56).

Castleblayney Faughs: R Treanor; L Connolly, S Brady, A Leonard (captain); H Hughes, E Heavin, S McKenna; E Ruddin, O Maguire;G Hanratty, A McCooey, S Moloney; A Connolly, J McQuillan, C Farrell.

Subs: Aimee Donaghy for S Moloney (33), Aoibhin Donaghy for G Hanratty (43).

Referee: P Smith (Waterford).

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