Loreto Cavan create history with their first All-Ireland senior schools title triumph
Lidl Post Primary Schools All-Ireland Senior ‘A' Championship Final: Loreto Cavan 3-5 Loreto Clonmel 1-7
LORETO Cavan created history by becoming All-Ireland senior schools' champions for the first time ever with victory over Loreto Clonmel at Coralstown/Kinnegad.
It is also a first ever All-Ireland schools title for the county and there could be another one at the end of the week as the school remains on course for an All-Ireland double with the juniors in the A decider on Friday against Intermediate School Killorglin.
A blistering purple patch for the winners turned this game on its head early in the second half.
Trailing by one point at half time, two Muireann Cusack goals in as many minutes saw Aine Shannon and Conor Maguire's side hit an unanswered 2-2 to swing the game in their favour and a lead they would never relinquish.
The victory goes a long way to rewarding the effort of the players not just this school year but over the past couple, said joint manager Maguire, who is hoping that they can channel the euphoria ahead of the junior team's final on Friday.
“It was a tough game. Defences on both sides were on top all day and scores were at a premium and hard to come by. The wind was of no advantage to anyone, it just swirled around,” said Maguire.
“These players have been on the other end of results at the final whistle and they know that feeling. It's a great feeling to be on winning end of the scoreline and it's a huge reward for everything they have done.
“They have worked very hard and its thanks also to their parents and their clubs. We are all delighted for them.
“It's a great boost for the junior team and many of these girls will be playing again on Friday. Hopefully we can use that winning energy to our advantage but it's a new day and a new game.”
However, this was not all plain sailing for the newly crowned champions. Loreto Cavan showed their mettle and worth in what was a real battle between two sides who left everything out on the pitch.
The Ulster champions recovered well from the worst possible start when they found themselves 1-1 to no score down after just 90 odd seconds, the Clonmel goal coming from captain Cora Maher following a pointed free from Ava Fennessy to open the scoring.
It looked ominous early on for Loreto Cavan when they also missed a penalty in the sixth minute, Aine Reilly dragging her effort wide. But they did get on the scoreboard two minutes later through a Lauren McVeety free and an Aine Reilly point in the 11th minute saw just the goal separate the sides.
Kelly Ann Hogan made it a four point game in the 14th minute and despite Loreto Cavan being dealt a blow in the 17th minute with the loss of their joint captain Niamh Keenaghan to the sin bin for 10 minutes, they kept their opposition scoreless and two minutes before her return, player of the match McVeety and the sides level, 1-2 apiece when she finished to the net a great through-ball from Ally Cahill. The Munster champions, did however, go in at the break ahead as Anna Carey pointed on the stroke of half-time to give her side a slight 1-3 to 1-2 advantage.
However, within seconds of the resumption, the sides were level for the second time as corner forward Cusack pointed before they took the lead for the first time through Cahill in the 37th minute.
Then joint captain Cusack struck, not once, but twice, with two majors in the space of 90 seconds to open up a seven point lead, 3-4 to 1-3.
Meanwhile, Clonmel struggled to get on the scoreboard with a number of balls dropping short, including efforts off the post, as Loreto Cavan substitute Aisling Wall was making a huge impact, just as she did in the semi-final against Presentation College Tuam, since coming on early in the second half.
Hogan did break Loreto Cavan's momentum in the 43rd minute with a point to make it 3-4 to 1-4 but Niamh McCorry cancelled that out two minutes later.
It was Loreto Cavan's last score with still the last quarter to play out and while they were outscored 0-3 to 0-0 in the final quarter, their resolute defence stood firm to limit the Tipperary school to just that trio of points with some brilliant defending throughout.
Lidl National Football League Division Four
ANTRIM secured fourth place in Division Four to set up a semi-final meeting this weekend with table toppers Wicklow, without having to kick a ball.
Their rescheduled round five fixture at home to Derry did not take place on. It means Fermanagh, who had been waiting on the outcome of this game also, hoping for a Derry win, which would have seen them take that last knockout spot, miss out on back-to-back semi-finals by way of their head-to-head defeat to Antrim in the opening game of the season.