A SECOND-HALF hat-trick from Ciara Casey was instrumental as St Joseph's College of Lucan recorded a memorable 5-6 to 3-4 win over Calasanctius College of Galway in a thrilling All-Ireland Schools Junior Camogie quarter-final at 12th Lock last Saturday.
Lucan now look forward to an semi-final against Laurel Hill of Limerick on Saturday, and with their senior team also preparing for a semi in Roscrea, manager David Kirwan is extremely pleased with the way the school has progressed in camogie.
"They've come on a lot, and they have great character. They showed it during the game. They were in trouble a couple of times, but they kept their heads up. They kept working and got the result they deserved," he stated.
Joseph's enjoyed an excellent start to the game with a goal five minutes in from Emily McIntyre, and although Calasanctius settled into the proceedings with a major from long range, the Lucan girls had the final say in the first period, as Orla Carroll's clinical finish gave the Dubs a 2-3 to 1-3 advantage heading into the second half.
However, with their Oranmore counterparts causing them problems, Joseph's made a number of switches, including moving Casey to the edge of the square. The versatility of their players has been key for Joseph's to date and Kirwan feels that the link between their junior and senior outfits is vital in this regard.
"We have a few girls playing on the senior team and that would bring them on a lot," he explained.
"They're playing at a different division than junior, and it helps them to move them around when you're in trouble. They're great players no matter where I put them in."
These changes eventually paid dividends for Joseph's because, despite the Galwegians twice finding the back of the net in the opening part of the second half, Casey replied with a brace of goals of her own to re-assert Lucan's authority. Following an excellent penalty save by Jenny Murphy, Casey's third goal helped the Dublin champions to seal their place in the last four.
This is a major achievement for the school, and Kirwan points to their performance in claiming their county crown against St Mac Dara's Community College as being a major factor in their journey to date, as it saw them avenge an earlier defeat to the Templeogue boys.
He added: "Definitely, because they've had lots of battles with that team in Mac Dara's. They've beaten us a few times. Hopefully it will bring them on further now."