By Eoghan Cormican
A Laura Fitzgerald point with 16 seconds remaining secured the ladies footballers of Mourneabbey back-to-back All-Ireland senior club titles.
With Chloe Miskell and Annette Clarke having landed points to bring Kilkerrin-Clonberne level in the 53rd minute, the Galway and Connacht champions then had four opportunities to go in front. Not a single one, however, were they able to take. Olivia Divilly, with a free from the 20-metre line, dropped the ball shirt, while Ailish Morrissey, Clarke, and Claire Dunleavy all tallied wides.
The final appeared to be headed to extra-time, but Mourneabbey’s final play, which began in their own full-back line with one minute remaining, ended with Laura Fitzgerald throwing over the winners 16 seconds from the hooter.
Fitzgerald was responsible for Mourneabbey’s second goal on 45 minutes, a green flag which left the scoreboard reading 2-8 to 0-12 in Mourneabbey’s favour.
Kilkerrin-Clonberne, as they had done in the first-half, made the better start to the second period and although they were reduced to 14 when Lynsey Noone was sin-binned, they temporarily held the lead following a fine Ailish Morrissey score.
A yellow card to Ciara O’Sullivan meant Mourneabbey finished the game with 14, but it mattered not as they surged late to successfully defend their crown.
Mourneabbey, despite yet another sluggish start, had eked their way in front come the interval hooter, the reigning champions 1-6 to 0-8 ahead.
It was Doireann O’Sullivan who supplied the Mourneabbey goal 14 minutes in, the Cork forward played through by Noelle Healy. The latter kicked a pair of points to sandwich the final’s opening major, this 1-2 burst moving Mourneabbey into a 1-3 to 0-5 lead.
An Olivia Divilly free subsequently tied matters – the direct running of the Galway forward so instrumental to a blistering Kilkerrin-Clonberne start which had them 0-5 to 0-1 clear after 12 minutes – but Mourneabbey had the ball in the opposition goal for a second time shortly after, Laura Fitzgerald palming home a sweeping move involving Roisin and Ciara O’Sullivan, as well as Healy.
After much consultation, however, referee Maggie Farrelly disallowed the goal because of square ball.
A Doireann O’Sullivan free and a pair from play from sister Ciara and Laura Fitzgerald snuck – and kept – Mourneabbey noses in front between there and the break, despite Eva Noone and Annette Clarke raising white flags at the other end.
One point was also the difference at the end of the second period, too, Mourneabbey reaffirming their status as the dominant club side in the land.
Scorers for Mourneabbey: L Fitzgerald (1-3); D O’Sullivan (1-2, 0-1 free); C O’Sullivan, N Healy (0-2 each).
Scorers for Kilkerrin-Clonberne: O Divilly (0-1 free), A Clarke, A Morrissey (0-3 each); C Miskell (0-2); C Dunleavy, L Noone, E Noone (0-1 each).
Mourneabbey: M O’Sullivan; S Conroy, E Meaney, A O’Sullivan; E Harrington, R O’Sullivan, K Coakley; M O’Callaghan, B O’Sullivan; N Healy, C O’Sullivan, N O’Sullivan; L Fitzgerald, D O’Sullivan, S O’Callaghan.
Subs: E Jack for Harrington, A Ryan for O’Callaghan (both 35); A Cronin for N O’Sullivan (50).
Kilkerrin-Cloberne: L Murphy; A Costello, N Ward, S Gormally; C Dunleavy, H Noone, S Fahy; L Ward, S Divilly; L Noone, O Divilly, C Miskell; E Noone, A Clarke, A Morrissey.
Subs: K Mee for N Ward (19 mins, inj); C Boyle for Miskell (52-57, temporary); C Boyle for L Noone (58).
Referee: M Farrelly.