Allianz Corn Sceilge All-Ireland Senior A Championship semi-final
Loreto Kilkenny 2-14 St Patrick’s Maghera 1-10 AET
IN the Kilkenny Centre of Excellence in Dunmore on Wednesday evening, St Patrick’s, Maghera came very close to emulating the achievement of their junior squad last Friday in knocking out the holders Loreto, Kilkenny in a tense but highly skilful Corn Sceilge senior semi-final.
Loreto had to score the last two points in ordinary time to force two periods of extra-time and the Leinster champions also dropped two behind early in the first period of extra time.
However, they recovered, and Ciara Dunne’s goal in the last seconds iced the cake and sent them through to take on Ursuline, Thurles in the final on March 24.
Maghera got off to a poor start when Tara McGrath hit the net in the seventh minute and they were 1-4 to 0-1 behind four minutes later when Rachel Dowling registered her third point.
However, they conceded just one more point, from a Dowling free, before the break and were very much in the game once more with points from Emma Quinn (two), Grace Kelly, Caoimhe Chambers and captain Carla Collins.
Tara McGrath and Aoife Shealy scored points for Kilkenny early in the second half before Maghera got going again.
Points from Katie McCloskey, Emma Quinn and two from Collins closed the gap to 1-8 to 0-10 at the midway point.
Two minutes later, a goal from Collins put her side ahead for the first time and an Ulster win looked a distinct possibility at that stage.
However, Loreto dug in and Dowling hit the remaining two points of ordinary time, both from frees.
Collins hit the opening two points of extra time – both from frees – and Maghera led by 1-12 to 1-11 at the change of ends.
Loreto, however, found the scores during the second half to bring them through to the final once more.
Dowling drew them level and Aisling Browne popped up with the lead score before Dowling’s free left two between the sides with three minutes remaining.
In the final seconds, Ciara Dunne broke northern hearts with a goal that resulted in a collective sigh of relief from the Loreto management and supporters.
Maghera didn’t deserve the gap to be as wide as five points at the end. They were heroic throughout, especially Eimear Doherty and Eimear Murray in defence; Emma Quinn in the middle of the field and Carla Collins at full-forward.
But Dowling’s leadership was important after her team fell behind and she more than anyone rescued the day for Loreto.
Loreto T McGrath 1-1; C Dunne 1-0; R Dowling 0-10 (0-6f); A Laherty, A Shealy & A Browne 0-1 each
St Patrick’s C Collins 1-5 (0-5f); E Quinn 0-3 (0-2f); C Chambers 0-2; G Kelly & K McCloskey 0-1 each