Martin heroic as Donaghmoyne seal fourth title
Donaghmoyne 0-11 Mourneabbey 0-8
Donaghmoyne honoured the memory of their former chairman Martin Daly by claiming a hard-fought victory in yesterday's All-Ireland ladies club football final at Parnell Park.
The Monaghan and Ulster champions were plunged into grief earlier this year when Daly passed away but they finished a poignant season with the biggest prize of all in their possession for a fourth time.
Cork's Mourneabbey provided stout opposition but after losing to Termon in last year's final, they were bridesmaids once more in the Dolores Tyrrell Memorial showpiece.
Donaghmoyne did it the hard way down the home straight, closing the game out with dogged defending after losing Joanne and Sharon Courtney to yellow cards.
Mourneabbey were returned to their full complement when Emma Coakley returned to the fray after spending ten minutes in the sin-bin but despite the 13 against 15 numerical disadvantage, this was Donaghmoyne's day again as they claimed a first senior All-Ireland title since 2012.
Sharon Courtney paid an emotional tribute to Daly, reflecting: "I know he has a big smile on his face today.
"We weren't going to lose that because we had put the work in but when we needed to dig deep, we had to think of Martin and that was going to take us over the line."
Cathriona McConnell top-scored with five pointed frees for the winners but the difference between the sides was player of the match and All-Star goalkeeper Linda Martin, who pulled off three brilliant saves.
With seven minutes remaining, Martin kept out marauding Mourneabbey defender Niamh O'Sullivan with a crucial block at a time when the Cork and Munster champions were operating with 14 players following Coakley's sin-binning.
The sides were level at 0-8 apiece at that point but Donaghmoyne managed to score three late points to get the job done. Donaghmoyne were in no mood to yield against a Mourneabbey side that managed just three second-half points.
Mourneabbey led by just a single point, 0-5 to 0-4, at the end of an absorbing first half. With their very first attack, Donaghmoyne almost netted as Clare native Fiona Lafferty rattled a shot off the crossbar but a combination of good defending and poor finishing limited their first-half haul.
At the other end, Doireann O'Sullivan shone brightly for Mourneabbey in the early exchanges before Síle O'Callaghan and Bríd O'Sullivan added scores before half-time. Mourneabbey could consider themselves unfortunate not to have broken through for a goal themselves but superb goalkeeping from Martin kept them out.
Martin did brilliantly to deny Laura Fitzgerald with a full-length diving save in the tenth minute before repeating the trick approaching half-time, as Bríd O'Sullivan's effort was tipped over the bar.
The sides traded scores on the resumption but McConnell lifted Donaghmoyne spirits with two superb long-range points, both from frees.
Cork's All-Ireland-winning captain Ciara O'Sullivan hauled Mourneabbey level at 0-7 apiece.
Mourneabbey's leading scorer Doireann O'Sullivan and Sandra McConnell swapped points but when McConnell nailed a free with six minutes remaining, it established a lead that Donaghmoyne would hold until the finish.
And Donaghmoyne's victory was capped by two sensational late points from Hazel Kingham, as Mourneabbey were left heartbroken for a second successive year.
Donaghmoyne skipper Eileen McElroy said: "In the first half, it was very even. They were coming at us and we were trying to hold them off.
"They got those couple of goal chances and if they had put them away, it might have been a different story but Linda was just superb in the goals."
Scorers - Donaghmoyne: C McConnell 0-5f, H Kingham, S McConnell & R Courtney 0-2 each. Mourneabbey: D O'Sullivan 0-4 (2f), B O'Sullivan 0-2, C O'Sullivan & S O'Callaghan 0-1 each.
DONAGHMOYNE - L Martin; F Courtney, H Kingham, N Lynch; J Geoghegan, S Courtney, J Courtney; E McElroy, A Casey; C McConnell, C Courtney, F Lafferty; S McConnell, N Callan, R Courtney. Subs: G Comiskey for Lynch (40), R Finnegan for S McConnell (60).
MOURNEABBEY - M O'Sullivan; E Coakley, CA Stack, A O'Sullivan; K Healy, R O'Sullivan, N O'Sullivan; M O'Callaghan, C O'Sullivan; S O'Callaghan, B O'Sullivan, E Meaney; E Harrington, L Fitzgerald, D O'Sullivan. Sub: S Conroy for Healy (35).
REF - C McManus (Meath)