In a thrilling final, Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) retained the Ashbourne Cup for an historic fifth year in a row.
The dramatic clash with hosts and hot-favourites University of Limerick (UL) ended with a scoreline of 3-13 to 2-15 in favour of WIT following two periods of extra time.
Playing with the wind, Cáit Devane gave UL a dream start in the first half with a good goal which Linda Bolger followed up with a couple of points. WIT managed to stay in touch thanks to the accuracy of Emma Comerford from placed balls, trailing by just 1-5 to 0-5 at the interval.
Shelley Farrell had WIT level almost straight after the break. With the wind at their backs and a goal from Katrina Parrock to put them three points ahead, it looked like WIT might pull away in the second half.
UL’s Devane had different ideas however. The Tipperary attacker had already added four second-half points before finding the WIT net for the second time, putting UL a point ahead with time running out. However, WIT rallied with some good play from Brid Quinn, passing into Katrina Parrock who was then fouled. Comerford kept her nerve, scoring the late free to bring the game to extra time, with a score of 2-9 apiece.
Towards the end of the extra 20 minutes, Julia White put UL ahead, forcing the Kilkenny sharpshooter Comerford to score yet another late equaliser from a free, necessitating a second bout of extra time with the sides level at 2-11.
That final ten minutes saw Devane put UL three points clear, in what looked like the stroke that finally broke the champions’ resistance.
However, with less than three minutes left on the clock, WIT found one last defining surge as Shelly Farrell made a great run and hand-passed the ball to Denise Gaule who, under huge pressure, struck one of the goals of the year to draw WIT level.
In the final passage of play, Gaule won the puck out and a free immediately followed. Trish Jackman stepped up to point this 50 yard free and snatched a sensational victory for the visitors.
The Ashbourne Cup returns home to WIT for a historic fifth time in five consecutive years, a feat not seen in the modern era. This most recent win also marks WIT’s seventh victory in their relatively short participation in this competition, the first in 1999 and the second in 2001.
Tipp players on the WIT panel were Kristina Kenneally, Shelia Ryan, Sheena Ryan, Bríd Quinn and Orla McEniry