For the first half of this Leinster final in Kinnegad, Coláiste Íosagáin and Dunshaughlin CC looked like two well matched school sides as their were talented players and plenty of scoring potential in evidence on each team.
However two early goals for the Meath students rocked the Íosagáin girls back on their heels at the start of the second half and from then it was all downhill as injuries, the breeze and the strength of the Dunshaughlin team in the diamond sector became too much to handle.
The absence of Nicole Havill and Rebecca Brown from the Íosagáin line up was always likely to stretch the Portarlington school’s resources to the limit and it’s impossible to tell how this game would have gone if both sides were at full strength.
There was no indication that such a one sided encounter would come to pass in the early stages, when the two sides were very well matched. Two Dunshaughlin points either side of an Alanna Havill score gave the Meath college a narrow edge, but two goals in a minute for Rachel Cullen turned the tide and drew a rapturous response from large number of fellow Íosagáin students watching in the stand.
Gallogly and Morland signalled their intent with two fine points through the middle but Sarah McLoughlin responded with a fine point from 35 metres out to restore the lead to four.
Morland and Maeve Byrne exchanged goals midway through the half to keep Port in front, but Dunshaughlin made a vital switch at this time, moving Morland to centre forward, switching Hetherington to full forward and pulling Rachel Huijisdens out to midfield, where she used her height and good passing range to great effect.
A string of Dunshaughlin scores followed before the break and they built up a six point lead before Rachel Cullen struck for her third goal to leave the game finely poised at half time, 3-8 to 4-2.
The Íosagáin girls needed a fast start to the second half to get momentum on their side but they instead fell sharply behind very quickly, conceding goals to Hetherington and Morland, both after sharp runs through the middle of the Portarlington defence.
Rachel Cullen stemmed the tide with a good right footed point under pressure, but luck now started to desert the Íosagáin girls, most notably when Laura Quinn goaled in the 36th minute to stretch the lead out to double figures. Again Hetherington was crucial, bearing down on goal and shooting from the right hand corner of the large square, but this time Lydia Darley made a fine save to deny the Meath forward. However the ball rebounded kindly to Quinn, who had the simplest of tasks to score.
It wasn’t the first time that Darley prevented a Dunshaughlin goal and she followed this up with another fine save within moments, however by now Íosagáin were getting dominated at midfield and the vast majority of the play was at their end of the field. They continued to battle hard but the scores came thick and fast, eventually giving the scoreboard a harsh look that scarcely reflected what has been a very good season for this team.
DUNSHAUGHLIN CC: Amy Mulvaney; Gemma Donoghue, Eimear O’Brien, Krystelle Clynch; Sadhbh Ó’Muirí, Niamh Gallogly (0-3), Amy Duffy; Fia O’Brien, Elizabeth Morland (3-5); Ailish Bruce (0-1), Niamh Hetherington (1-5), Cara Usher; Megan Thynne (3-5, 0-1f), Rachel Huijisdens, Laura Quinn (1-0). Subs: Aisling Kellegher for Usher, Marissa Horan for Duffy, Aoife Swan for Quinn,
COL. ÍOSAGÁIN: Lydia Darley; Fiona Dempsey, Jessica Hoey, Sheena Murphy; Ava Galvin, Michelle Keegan, Naomi Luttrell; Marie Byrne, Libby Waldron; Kimberley Webster, Alanna Havill (0-1); Alanna Keogh; Sarah McLoughlin (0-1), Rachel Cullen (3-1), Maeve Byrne (1-0). Subs: Síle Burbage for Havill (temporary), Gillian Walsh for Murphy
REFEREE: Matt Maguire (Westmeath)