Confidence was oozing out of team all week, reveals Kildare captain
All-Ireland Junior Camogie final: Kildare 2-11 Laois 1-5
Two goals in the space of a minute from ace full-forward Susie O'Carroll ensured that Kildare continued their inexorable rise up the ranks with a commanding victory over Laois.
Heavy rain and a blustery wind made conditions very difficult, but Kildare's physical power came to the fore, not to mention their experience, as they flew out of the traps.
Player of the match Siobhan Hurley and 18-year-old Melissa Lyons had points on the board inside the opening two minutes. O'Carroll, Roisin O'Connell and Hurley (free) added to their tally, and it was only in the 24th minute that Laois got off the mark through a Louise Mahony free.
Niamh Dollard also got on the scoresheet for Mattie Collier's side, and though O'Carroll made it 0-6 to 0-2, it must have been a source of disappointment for Jim McMullen that the margin was just four given his team's dominance.
The mood wouldn't have been improved by a 32nd minute goal from 17-year-old Laois substitute Grace O'Neill, whose powerful shot dropped inside the upright.
The Lilies responded like champions, though, with O'Carroll hitting those two goals in a minute to put the tie to rest.
It was plain sailing from there as Hurley and Lyons added points.
Though Mahony slotted a couple of frees, the Laois girls never looked like getting the goals they needed to turn it around.
"It's unbelievably brilliant," enthused victorious captain Clodagh Flanagan, who was winning her third All-Ireland and second at Croke Park, having lined out for the county when they won the All-Ireland junior title 10 years ago.
"Siobhan's first score completely settled us, but the confidence was oozing out of the team all week. Everybody's in such good form. We had no doubt what we were capable of.
"We knew coming out at half-time that we were going to be up against it. We knew Laois weren't going to give up easily. But Susie is on fire at the moment and we know we can rely on her."
The Laois manager admitted that the best team won.
"Naturally we're very disappointed. I felt in the first half we didn't get going at all. I suppose both teams were nervous, but I was happy enough at half-time to be just four points down. We decided to move Sarah Ann up to the forwards and to go for it.
"We got the goal straight away and I thought it was working," said Collier.
"The heavy shower seemed to kill it and then they got the two goals.
"It was a fierce mountain to climb then. There are no excuses. Kildare were the better team on the day."
SCORERS – Kildare: S O'Carroll 2-2, S Hurley 0-5 (2fs), M Lyons 0-2, R O'Connell, C MacSweeney 0-1 each. Laois: G O'Neill 1-0, L Mahony 0-3 (3fs), N Dollard 0-2.
KILDARE – S O'Keeffe; J O'Donoghue, A Trant, N Concannon; F Trant, C Nolan, A Lyons; C Forde, O Bambury; L Keatley, S Hurley, C Flanagan; M Lyons, S O'Carroll, R O'Connell. Subs: H Mulligan for Concannon (46), C MacSweeney for M Lyons (54), N Breen for F Trant (59), C Farrell for Keatley (60).
LAOIS – L Dunne; M Burke, K Cuddy, A Dunphy; J Dollard, SA Fitzgerald, E Delaney; C Walsh, E Mahony; J Dunne, D Quigley, L Mahony; S Burke, N Dollard, O Parkinson. Subs: G O'Neill for Dunne (30), S Cuddy for Walsh (h-t), C Downey for Burke (42), S Lanham for Parkinson (52), R Bermingham for J Dollard (60).
REF – D Ryan (Dublin)