For the second time in three years Cashel were crowned All-Ireland senior champions after a tough battle with Athenry in the decider at Clarecastle yesterday.
For the Galway girls, once more it was heartbreak, as they succumbed to the same opponents in the decider of 2007. This time out they were outclassed in the second period especially and found it difficult to deal with the player-of-the-game performance of Cashel's wing-forward Claire Grogan, whose tremendous individual display was a major factor in achieving victory for her team.
Though underfoot conditions were surprisingly good at the Clare venue, both sides had to contend with severe elements of bitter cold, swirling winds and a number of squally showers.
The Galway girls lead 0-6 to 0-5 after playing into the wind in the opening half, with their midfield pairing of Laura Linnane and Sarah Donohue dominating matters for the most part.
But after the break Cashel appeared to cope better with the elements and took the lead by the 36th minute after full-forward Emily Hayden and centre-forward Mairead Morrissey pointed from play.
A Linnane free levelled matters once more later on but three successive scores by the impressive Grogan tilted the balance in favour of the Premier girls as the game progressed. Athenry's Katie O'Dwyer, from play, and a Grogan free made it 0-11 to 0-8 by the 53rd minute and, in an exciting finish, a tight Cashel full-back line of Claire Ryan, team captain Una O'Dwyer and Nolette Dwyer, held the Athenry attack to just one late score, a pointed free by substitute Jessica Gill, as the game entered injury-time. The Galway sub went for a goal from 20 metres but her shot skimmed the crossbar.
Apart from Grogan, who was in flying form from start to finish and who contributed seven points of her team's overall tally, Cashel were well served by a superb Una O'Dwyer at full-back, Julie McGrath playing at wing-back and Mairead Morrissey on the '40. Best for a gallant Athenry were Linnane at midfield, Krystel Ruddy in defence and Therese Maher up front.
Scorers -- Cashel: C Grogan 0-7 (3f), M Morrissey 0-2, A Lonergan, E Hayden 0-1 each. Athenry: L Linnane 0-4 (1f, 1 '45), T Maher, B Kerins, K O'Dwyer, J Gill, N Coen (f) 0-1 each.
Cashel -- H Breen; C Ryan, U O'Dwyer (capt), N Dwyer; P Bulfin, P Fogerty, J McGrath; J Horan, L Grogan; C Hennessy, M Morrissey, C Grogan; A Lonergan, E Hayden, C Dwyer. Subs: S Hayes for Lonergan (60), D O'Connell for C Dwyer (60).
Athenry -- S Gannon; K Glynn, A Poniard, D Coen; C Cunniffe, R Glynn, K Ruddy; S Donohue, L Linnane; N Jordan, T Maher (capt), N Coen; B Kerins, K O'Dwyer, M Keogh. Subs: J Gill for Jordan (46).
Ref -- F McNamara (Clare)