Coláiste Dún Iascaigh added to an impressive array of titles by winning the Munster Junior A ladies football title for a first time. They emerged victorious by a 3 point margin in Watergrasshill against a very strong and spirited Loreto Fermoy team, many of whom will also feature in the Munster Senior A final next week.
Cahir began the game with great intensity and had all the early pressure, duly rewarded by the first score, courtesy of corner forward Caoimhe Condon. Shortly afterwards a Cahir free came off the upright but Roisin Howard was alert to score a fine point from the rebound. Good work by centre-forward Kirsty Downey set Aoife Cocoran up for a third point for the Coláiste. Fermoy finally got a foothold in the Cahir half, and while the Cahir defence initially held them out the Cork girls were patient and were rewarded with their first score from the boot of half-forward Abbie Scannell. They took heart from this score and Cahir were thankful for the trojan efforts of Maureen Murphy and Aoife Corcoran in particular in holding the Fermoy attacks at bay. Cahir keeper Lauren Fitzpatrick made a fine save to keep her side ahead, and Cahir regrouped. Great work by the ever-influential Aishling Moloney allowed her to set up Roisin Howard, who rounded her marker and goaled to put the Coláiste ahead by 1-03 to 0-01. Roisin then set up midfielder Laura Dillon for another point. Cahir looked in control at this stage, with Rachel Moloney working particularly hard in the half forward line and the Cahir forwards looking dangerous. Games change quickly however, and Fermoy countered. Full-forward Saoirse Moore showed her skill and strength in creating and finishing a goal chance for her side, followed quickly by another point for the Fermoy girls to leave just 2 points between the sides. Approaching half-time Fermoy had enjoyed a dominant spell, but again the game changed. An excellent long pass from Aishling Moloney was perfectly placed for Roisin Howard to take, and she showed her supreme goal-poaching instincts again to score her’s and Cahir’s second goal. Megan Heffernan was alert on the kickout, and placed Kirsty Downey who scored a fine point to leave the half-time score Cahir 2-05 to Fermoy’s 1-02.
Cahir came out of the blocks at the start of the second with grit and determination. Kirsty Downey added an excellent point f following good Cahir pressure. Shortly afterwards Aishling Moloney scored a point, leaving her side ahead by 2-07 to 1-02. Fermoy responded well, but an effort on goal was easily dealt with by Lauren Fitzpatrick. Fermoy were now in chase of a goal to change the momentum of the game, and quick work by their forwards brought just that reward to leave 5 points between the teams. Cahir suffered a blow when Claire Walsh – tigerish in defence throughout – had to retire injured. This resulted in changes in the Cahir line-up, with Kailee Burke coming on in attack and full-forward Rebecca English dropping back to half-back. Fermoy’s Saoirse Moore again showed the threat she posed, and pointed a free she herself had won. The Fermoy side were in the ascendancy and there followed a long period of sustained pressure. Every defender was called on, and the unity of purpose among the Cahir defenders was notable. Fermoy’s best chances arose when they could move the ball quickly, but the Cahir girls’ fitness and alertness was key in not allowing this to happen too often. Fermoy found it difficult to get a shot on the goal, and on the one real goal-scoring opportunity they worked they were thwarted by a great douple-save by Lauren Fitzpatrick. Cahir’s midfielders and wing-forwards were now part of the defence effort, with Aishling Moloney reading the game well in a sweeper role, and Rachel Moloney and Megan Burke working particularly hard to link with the full-forward line. Maureen Murphy was rarely beaten, giving an outstanding display in the corner back role, and Rebecca English played her best football in the half back role. Emma Corcoran and Emma Buckley were resolute in the centre, and though Fermoy enjoyed dominance in possession for a time they scored just 1-01. The effort was taking its toll, and Cahir availed of every opportunity. Kate O’Brien was brought on to freshen up the forward line, and she worked well in a target role on limited supply, winning ball and linking well with the half-forwards. A Kirsty Downey free put 5 points between the sides again, and when Caoimhe Condon was fouled soon afterward Kirsty was again on target from the free. With close to the regulation 30 minutes played Cahir were 6 point ahead, 2-09 to 2-03. Fermoy needed goals, and threw everything into those final minutes. Persistent pressure paid off for them when a good pass found their corner forward unmarked, and she gave the Cahir keeper no chance from close range. This ensured a nail-biting last few minutes – almost 7 minutes of injury time was played following two lengthy stops in the second half – but the final whistle was greeted with joy and relief by the Cahir team, mentors and fans.
Team captain Emma Corcoran accepted the Munster Junior A cup, and Kirsty Downey was announced as Player of the Match. The All-Ireland series is next for this fine Cahir team, and they will face St. Leo’s of Carlow in the All-Ireland semi-final.
Team: Lauren Fitzpatrick, Megan Heffernan, Emma Corcoran, Maureen Murphy, Aoife Corcoran (0-01), Emma Buckley, Claire Walsh, Megan Burke, Laura Dillon (0-01), Aishling Moloney (0-01), Kirsty Downey (0-04), Rachel Moloney, Caoimhe Condon (0-01), Rebecca English, Roisin Howard (2-01). Subs: Kate O’Brien, Kailee Burke, Megan Lambert, Jessica Myers, Dearbhla Buckley, Fiona Burke.