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Joseph's show grit to seal maiden title

St Joseph's Lucan made history last Friday afternoon as the junior team captured the school's first All-Ireland title after coming from behind to beat St Joseph's Tulla, 3-6 to 2-7, in a classic final at McDonagh Park, Nenagh.

The Clare side had the ball in the net within 10 seconds, as corner-forward Laura McGrath clinically finished past Jenny Ryan. Sinéad Conlon added a point to increase Tulla's early advantage, before Jessica McClelland got the young Dubs off the mark with a point.

The sides were soon on level terms as Lucan's Nicole Fitzgibbon coolly finished to the back of Deirdre Cotter's net. But Tulla then began to take control of the game and points from Evelyn Duggan and Brídín Dinan sandwiched a wonderful Siobhán O'Connell effort to open up a five-point gap at the break. The Lucan players needed to up the intensity in the second half, and that they did. A pointed free each from Ciara Casey and then Aoife McKearney stemmed the tide as Jessica Condron and Meabh Dowler in the half-back line increased the supply to the Joeys forwards.

McClelland then beat her marker and soloed through to hand-pass to Samantha Fitzgerald, who burst the net to bring Joeys back within touching distance. A Duggan free eased the pressure on Tulla, but not for long. Laura O'Mahony responded with the score of the day, as she broke through two tackles, bounced the ball past the oncoming defender and struck straight between the posts.

Orlaith Murphy and Ciara Casey then added two fine points to give Lucan the lead for the first time. Regan Conway levelled matters again and Conlon put Tulla back in front with only five minutes left.

But the Dublin side threw everything at their opponents and when a long free from Jenny Ryan bounced into the square, corner-forward Katie Feeney was first to react and doubled on the volley to the net to send the fans into raptures.

The Joeys defence, marshalled by Emma O'Flynn, had to stay focused as the game entered injury-time, but this time there was no comeback and the referee's final whistle ensured Lucan had won a historic first All-Ireland championship.

St Joseph's College, Lucan: Jenny Ryan, Tara O'Connor, Emma O'Flynn (captain), Kate Britton, Julie Kelly, Jessica Condron, Meabh Dowler, Orlaith Murphy (0-1), Laura O'Mahony (0-1), Samantha Fitzgerald (1-0), Ciara Casey (0-2), Aoife McKearney (0-1), Nicole Fitzgibbon (1-0), Jessica McClelland (0-1), Katie Feeney (1-0), Sadhbh Byrne, Niamh O'Connor, Yasmin Kilduff, Kate Britton, Emma Ryan, Kelsey Fahey, Carla Smyth.


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