Cora Staunton's Carnacon edge Kilkerrin-Clonberne in thrilling Connacht ladies SFC final
Carnacon (Mayo) 4-10 Kilkerrin-Clonberne 2-13
CORA Staunton and Amy Dowling struck quick-fire late goals as Carnacon came from behind in sensational fashion to retain their Connacht ladies senior club football title on Sunday.
Galway’s Kilkerrin-Clonberne looked like winning the crown they last captured in 2015 as they held a three-point lead, 2-13 to 2-10, with time fast running out.
But when Carnacon needed her most, Australia-bound Mayo star Staunton, who scored 1-6, lobbed a close-range free to the net for the equalising goal.
And with extra-time looming, Dowling kept her nerve to slam a low drive beneath Lisa Murphy for the winner.
It was a dramatic end to another titanic struggle, following on from last Sunday’s epic stalemate at the same Ballyhaunis venue.
There were eleven goals in the drawn match and six more at the second time of asking, with Carnacon edging through to an All-Ireland semi-final clash with Tyrone’s newly-crowned Ulster champions St Macartans.
Staunton was yellow-carded late on, the second Carnacon player to be sin-binned after half-time, while Kilkerrin-Clonberne lost captain Louise Ward in the closing stages.
It looked like nothing would separate the sides once more but Carnacon, who had a player of the match performance from midfielder Fiona McHale, found late answers.
At half-time, Kilkerrin-Clonberne led by 2-4 to 1-5, with Hannah Noone and Siobhan Divilly netting within a minute of each other in the first half.
Noone took advantage of a turnover in the 12th minute to net Kilkerrin-Clonberne’s opening goal, before Divilly lobbed an effort over Carnacon goalkeeper Michelle Higgins and into the net.
Those goals had the Galway girls 2-1 to 0-2 clear but Briana Bruton’s 16th-minute goal hauled Carnacon back into contention.
Olivia Divilly was shining for Kilkerrin-Clonberne but in general, both defences looked more assured than a week previously, with Staunton coming in for the usual levels of double-marking.
It was Carnacon who struck the first significant blow of the second half, when sub Emma Cosgrave netted to hand them a 2-6 to 2-5 lead in the 33rd minute, but there was plenty of intrigue left in store for a big crowd.
Midway through the second half, the sides were level at 2-8 apiece before Carnacon’s Martha Carter was yellow-carded.
That looked like a fatal blow as Kilkerrin-Clonberne moved four points clear, 2-13 to 2-9, with Chloe Miskell shooting a couple of glorious points in their scoring purple patch.
But after Marie Corbett’s point brought Carnacon to within three, there was still time for a late double sucker-punch, as Staunton and Dowling struck to seal a 16th Connacht senior title win.
Scorers for Carnacon – C Staunton 1-6 (1-5f), A Dowling 1-1, B Bruton & E Cosgrave 1-0 each, M Carter, M Corbett & A Brennan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kilkerrin-Clonberne – O Divilly 0-8 (5f), H Noone & S Divilly 1-0 each, C Miskell 0-3, N Ward & C Boyle 0-1 each.
Carnacon – M Higgins; S McGing, M Carter, S Larkin; B Bruton, M Corbett, D Hughes; F McHale, M McGing; E Flannery, A Dowling, A Brennan; M Larkin, C Staunton, L Dowling.
Sub – E Cosgrave for Larkin (23).
Kilkerrin-Clonberne – L Murphy; A McStay Gibbons, S Gormally, S Mee; L Noone, C Dunleavy, C Costello; S Divilly, L Gannon; O Divilly, A Clarke, C Miskell; N Ward, L Ward, H Noone.
Sub – C Boyle for McStay Gibbons (30+2).
Ref – G Chapman (Sligo).