After narrowly losing the previous two finals, Tipperary finally clinched the u16 ‘A’ all Ireland title with a victory over Kilkenny in the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick on Saturday. Kilkenny hit three points without reply before Tara Kennedy replied with two points in two minutes followed by a point by Leah Mckeogh to tie the scores
Miriam Walsh added a further three points for Kilkenny. However, Tipperary responded with style with frees from Caoimhe Maher and Tara Kennedy to keep them very much in the game. At half time Kilkenny had gone into a 0-10 to 0-5 lead.
Leah Mckeogh opened the scoring for Tipp in the second half. Tipperary were on a roll and Kilkenny were at the pin of their collar to hold them back. Kilkenny were put under constant pressure by the Tipperary mid-field and forwards and it paid off in the 34th minute. Tremendous play by Cliodhna Ryan pulled three Kilkenny defenders to her – when all the focus was on Cliodhna, she slipped one of the finest hand passes to Jenny Grace who blasted the sliothar into the back of the net.
At this stage, Tipperary started to introduce more of their panel and began to move their players around in a tactical and strategic move to keep Kilkenny under pressure. This worked very well and within three minutes a dominant Tipperary scored two more points - a great free by Caoimhe Maher, followed closely with another point by Tara Kennedy.
Tipp pressure paid off when Mairead Teehan made a fantastic run from the centre of the field to give Tipperary their second goal. Tipperary didn’t get all their own way and the backs had to work extremely hard to keep Kilkenny at bay. They were very ably led by captain Jenny Logue, Julie-Anne Burke, Cianna Walsh and player of the match Anne Eviston who fought for every ball and brought every bit of experience and strength they had to making sure Tipperary stayed ahead from then on.
Midway through the second half an outstanding save, for what was almost certainly a goal, by goalie Sarah Coonan kept Kilkenny out. Kilkenny scored in the last minute of normal time to bring the gap to only one point but Tipperary held the line and made sure the ball was in the Kilkenny goal area for the last two minutes of the match in what was a tense but thrilling end to a fantastic game between two great teams. This was a team effort with every player contributing and playing to their very best – a team that we will no doubt hear more about in the future.
Tipperary manager Tim Maher said after the game - “We knew going in to the second half we had a good chance to win if we used the wind to our advantage and with a very strong bench to bring on we did just that”
Tipperary panel: Sarah Coonan, Julie-Ann Burke, Jenny Logue (captain), Alana Morris, Cianna Walsh, Anne Eviston, Laura Loughnane, Caoimhe Maher, Mairead Teehan, Megan Ryan, Leah McKeogh, Tara Kennedy, Gillian McKenna, Jenny Grace, Cliodhna Ryan, Louise Delaney, Rosemary Hanafin, Edel O’Dwyer, Elaine Murphy, Claire Ryan, Amanda Egan, Aideen Hogan, Shauna Tooher, Roisin Ryan, Claire Kearns, Mairead Eviston, Cara Cottam, Aileen Duggan, Amy Crosse, Shauna Curtin, Niamh Gallagher, Emer Cahill, Kora Kerrane, Niamh Tracey.