Slaughtneil (Derry) 2-11 Sarsfields (Galway) 1-09
Slaughtneil maintained their position as the premier camogie club team in the land, with a commanding second half performance ensuring that they retained their AIB All-Ireland Senior Championship title at St Tiernach’s Park.
In the process, they continued the dreadful run of Galway representatives in the decider, with Sarsfields’ second consecutive loss also representing the sixth in a row for the western champions at the final hurdle.
Slaughtneil goalkeeper, Jolene Bradley was called into action from the very first attack, when Maria Cooney caught a McGrath free and sent in a powerful shot that the Slaughtneil goalkeeper was equal to.
It was a lightening quick start to proceedings, and the sides were level on two points apiece when they then exchanged goals.
Sinéad Cannon applied the finishing touch to Sarsfields’ major in the 10th minute but while the finish was cool, the score was all about Siobhán McGrath, as the 17-year-old beat three defenders and drew a fourth before passing to her teammate, who made no mistake.
Hannon provided the perfect riposte though. A two-time All-Ireland winner with Offaly, the centre-forward, who finished with a game-high tally of 1-7, drove through the middle and though her initial shot was saved by Yvonne Lyons, she was on hand to knock home the rebound.
Hannon converted a couple of more frees to bookend scores from Niamh and Orlaith McGrath and then equalised after Siobhán McGrath slotted her second free, her latter effort coming after a smart stop by Lyons from Josie McMullan.
That sent them in level at the change of ends and it remained extremely competitive as the rain made conditions more difficult early after the restart.
Cannon and Mellon, and Siobhán McGrath and Hannon inched the scoreboard forward but still they could not be separated.
That was when the key moments occured.
By now, Tara Kenny had begun to reduce, if not completely eradicate Hannon’s visibility in general play but Dougan stood out in reprising the deep-lying role that proved so effective 12 months ago, while Graham moved into top gear with a rampaging second half display.
In defence, Bróna Ní Chaiside in particular was a considerable presence at full-back and once Slaughtneil had established their lead, they never looked like ceding it.
Rachel Murray did launch a brilliant point on the run and Éilís Ni Chaiside made a good stop from an attempt at goal by Cooney from a free in injury time but Slaughtneil were not going to leave this slip and the Bill & Agnes Carroll Cup will be spending another year with the Robert Emmets’ contingent.
Slaughtneil: J Bradley, C McGrath, B Ní Chaiside, Dervlagh McGuigan, E Ní Chaiside, A Ní Chaiside, G O’Kane, D McGuigan, L Dougan, S Graham, T Hannon, S McKaigue, T Mellon, J McMullan, S Mellon. Subs: C McEldowney for S Mellon (52), A McGrath for Denise McGuigan (56), B McAllister for T Mellon ((60+2)
Scorers: T Hannon 1-7(0-5fs); L Dougan 1-0 (pen); T Mellon 0-2; S McKaigue 0-1
Sarsfields: Y Lyons, R Murphy, L Ward, A Spellman, T Kenny, C McGrath, E Leslie, K Gallagher, N McGrath, M Cooney, O McGrath, S Spellman, S Cannon, S McGrath, R Murray, S Mellon. Sub: K Donohue for N McGrath inj (40), E Larkin for Leslie inj (60+4)
Scorers: S Cannon 1-1; S McGrath 0-3(fs); N McGrath 0-2(1f); O McGrath, R Murray, M Cooney (f) 0-1 each