Wonderful scenes of joy from the Coláiste Bhríde Carnew players and supporters greeted Aidan O'Brien's final whistle that heralded the end of a mammoth three-game battle with a brave Gorey Community School with victory for Bob Fitzgerald's side by 1-7 to 1-3 in a windy Pearse's Park, Arklow, on Saturday afternoon.
As well as the Gorey C.S. contingent, County Wexford was well represented on the Coláiste Bhríde side as well, with seven of the starting 15 hailing from the Model county, and it was Craanford's Melissa Doran who lifted the provincial cup after a stunning performance from the full-back to draw to a conclusion an epic struggle between two very impressive teams.
Coláiste Bhríde lined out without star attacker Sadhbh Buttle who picked up a back injury in the first replay in Carnew, and the Wexford border school made three changes in total, with Erin Callaghan, Saoirse Kenny and Hannah Redmond starting instead of Buttle, Eimear Byrne and Shauna O'Shea.
Pearse's Park was in pristine condition ahead of the throw-in of this game, and it was Coláiste Bhríde who started the better while playing into the swirling wind, with centre-back Karen Tomkins impressing hugely early on, while Melissa Doran cleared an early Gorey C.S. goal opportunity off the line.
Sarah 'Sal' Doyle pointed the opening score of her tally of 1-7 in the opening moments after a foul by Tara O'Connor, but Siún Murdiff struck back with five on the clock to level affairs.
One of several decisive moments in this game arrived after seven minutes when Jade Shannon was pulled down in the Gorey C.S. square after a long ball from Saoirse Kenny. Up stepped 'Sal' Doyle and she rifled home to the back of the net for a magical start for the Coláiste Bhríde side.
Two wides for Gorey either side of a Sarah Doyle pointed free after a foul on Laci Jane Shannon didn't help their cause, and a period of consistent fouling gave Coláiste Bhríde a major advantage in the game, with Doyle pointing three more scores (two frees, one '45) to push Bob Fitzgerald's side out to a 1-5 to 0-1 lead after 20 minutes.
It was all Coláiste Bhríde at this stage, but a missed goal opportunity from Sarah Doyle and an excellent save from a Jade Shannon shot by Keeva Steadman in the Gorey goal didn't allow them build what would have been an almost unassailable lead before the break.
Instead, Gorey C.S. stirred from their slumber and managed a point from a free from Siún Murdiff to drag themselves right back into the contest at half-time, albeit still trailing by six.
As significant as the Coláiste Bhríde penalty was in the first-half, the awarding and subsequent saving of the game's second penalty, this one for Gorey C.S. in the opening moment of the second-half, was massive in the overall context of this game.
Referee Aidan O'Brien awarded the penalty for a foul on Róisín Hughes by Melissa Doran, but Caoimhe's Browne's strike was saved by the Coláiste Bhríde full-back, and one got the feeling that Gorey C.S. would regret that miss by the time the final whistle sounded.
Maeve Bairéad fired over a sweet score to soften the blow of the saved penalty, but Sarah Doyle struck back after nine minutes with a sweetly-struck '45, and then the move that Gorey C.S. didn't want to see unfolded as Bob Fitzgerald sent in Sadhbh Buttle in place of Laci Jane Shannon.
Buttle's presence was instantly felt, but Gorey C.S. grabbed a huge lifeline after 15 minutes when Caoimhe Browne lashed a shot that deflected beyond Kate Butler in the Coláiste Bhríde goal to make it 1-6 to 1-3.
The final 15 minutes belonged to the Coláiste Bhríde defence, marshalled so brilliantly by Melissa Doran who cleared ball after ball.
She was ably assisted by excellent showings from Anna Tomkins and Kayla Tighe who emerged as a serious warrior in the full-back line as Gorey C.S. threw everything into the battle to survive in this provincial decider.
Sarah Doyle pointed a free won by the superb Eimer Mutton after 50 minutes, and the Gorey side will feel they should have been awarded a '45 after a vicious groundstroke after 22 minutes, but Aidan O'Brien's umpire reckoned that the ball struck the post and not a Coláiste Bhríde defender.
Gorey C.S. battled right to the end of this encounter, with Elizabeth Gahan really playing a captain's role with a performance of determination and bravery.
However, the final whistle brought tumultuous delight to the Coláiste Bhríde side who follow up their Leinster 'C' win last season with this 'B' victory in 2020, with the majority of players still eligible for the Junior ranks next season.
Credit to both teams for serving up three dogged and dramatic clashes for their passionate supporters, with the second-half of Saturday's battle certainly being the most impressive in terms of skill and ferocity.
The adventure finally comes to an end. Coláiste Bhríde face an All-Ireland semi-final this Saturday, but nobody will forget this mighty struggle for a long time to come.
Coláiste Bhríde Carnew: Kate Butler; Anna Tomkins, Melissa Doran, Kayla Tighe; Aoife Kinsella, Karen Tomkins, Ciara Wafer; Eimer Mutton, Róisín Byrne; Erin Callaghan, Laci Jane Shannon, Jade Shannon; Sarah Doyle (1-7, 0-5 frees, 1-0 pen., 0-2 '45s), Saoirse Kenny, Hannah Redmond. Subs. - Sadhbh Buttle for L.J. Shannon (41), Eimear Byrne for E. Callaghan (51).
Gorey C.S.: Keeva Steadman; Saoirse McDonald, Millie Doran, Mia Davey; Beibhinn O'Brien, Tara O'Connor, Maeve Bairéad (0-1); Elizabeth Gahan, Aisling Fitzpatrick; Siún Murdiff (0-2 frees), Olive Curtis, Katie Bolger; Róisín McGonigle, Róisín Hughes, Caoimhe Browne (1-0). Sub. - Mia Kinsella for A. Fitzpatrick (42).
Referee: Aidan O'Brien (Cloughbawn).