Quirke fires Carlow to glory with final hat-trick
Three goals from the lethal Ciara Quirke and a game-changing contribution by 16-year-old substitute Rachel Sawyer saw Carlow continue their stunning rise up ranks by taking the premier junior crown at Croke Park.
Carlow 4-10 Armagh 2-7
Joint captains Teresa Meaney and Marian Doyle were presented with the Kay Mills Cup by Camogie Assoication President Catherine Neary, just 12 months after annexing the Junior A title and having performed so well in Division 2 of the National League this year.
The game was delicately poised at half-time, with favourites Armagh leading by 1-5 to 1-4 after Quirke's 13th-minute goal had been answered two minutes later by Colette McSorley raising a green flag.
Quirke applied the finishing touch for another goal almost immediately after the resumption, but it was Sawyer that really took the game by the scruff of the neck as the spaces began to open up.
First she slotted a point after beating three Armagh defenders, despite being fouled twice, then there was an element of luck to her 45th minute goal, as she raced away from Hannah McGeown and shot for a point. Armagh goalkeeper Bronagh Mone attempted to kill the sliotar on her hurley, but to her horror she dropped it behind the line and Carlow had opened up a five-point lead.
However, the Ulster side hit back with a sensational goal. Ciara Donnelly craned her neck behind her, kept her eye on the ball and as it cleared her left shoulder directed it superbly into the far corner of the net.
It was a two-point game once more, but Carlow showed their mettle by keeping Armagh scoreless until the final whistle.
They hit three points immediately, from Sawyer, Quirke and Eleanor Treacy, to negate Donnelly's superlative effort.
Then, in the 56th minute, Quirke won a dirty ball, gathered possession, swivelled and launched a rocket to the roof of the Armagh net to put the issue beyond doubt on a great day for Carlow.
SCORERS - Carlow: C Quirke 3-2; E Treacy 0-6 (0-4fs, 0-1 45); R Sawyer 1-2. Armagh: C Donnelly 1-6 (5fs); C McSorley 1-0; R Merry 0-1.
CARLOW - N Doyle; G Nolan, N Quirke, A Ryan; T Wilson, K Nolan, B Nolan; C Mullins, T Meaney; Marian Doyle, E Brennan, E Treacy; A Ruschitzko, M Nolan, C Quirke. Subs: R Sawyer for Ruschitzko (29), A Dowling for M Nolan (55), N Canavan for B Nolan (59), A Murphy for A Ryan (60), Mairéad Doyle for G Nolan (60+1).
ARMAGH - B Mone; H McGeown, N Conway, C McKinley; N Markey, G Kelly, E Hayes; B Murray, L McGoldrick; R Merry, M McArdle, C Donnelly; C McSorley, C Hill, L Donnelly. Subs: C Casey for Conway (45), S Woods for McGeown (48), S Molloy for Markey (54), A McAlinden for L Donnelly (59).
REF - A Larkin (Cork).