Cooley Kickhams 2-9 Geraldines 2-7
Cooley Kickhams made it three Louth minor championships in a row – and five in six seasons – with a two point win over Geraldines in an absorbing contest at Pairc Clan na nGael on Sunday afternoon.
When these two sides’ met last month in the group stages, the holders emerged emphatic 15 point winners, which installed the peninsula girls as firm favourites for the title.
But, undaunted by their outsiders’ tag, it was the Haggardstown girls who got off to the better start and they didn’t have long to wait for the opening goal when good play by Sarah Morgan and Amy Kerley ended with Emma Gartland firing past Cooley ’keeper Katelyn Murphy from 14 yards.
Cooley got onto the scoreboard in the eighth minute when county star Lauren Boyle won possession, and following a fine solo run, kicked over a stylish point, but they were hit with a second major shortly afterwards. Rebecca Mooney won possession and despite being under pressure from two defenders went on a 30 metre run before hitting a sensational shot to the top left hand corner of the net, off the crossbar, extending Gers’ lead five points after 12 minutes; 2-0 to 0-1.
However, Cooley’s response was immediate when following good play by Boyle, Lauren McGrath looked certain to score a goal, but as she was about to gain possession just on the edge of the square, Morgan got back to knock the ball from the full forward’s grasp.
Kickhams hit a purple patch to reduce the lead to five points before the match took a decisive turn in their favour with two quickfire Lauren McGrath goals, the first coming from a dropping Boyle free-kick which she punched home.
Cooley might have had a third goal before the turnaround, with McGrath again involved, but they instead went to the break with a 2-4 to 2-3 lead.
Understandably, given the heavy underfoot conditions, the second half was of a less frantic nature, though it remained neck and neck entering the closing quarter.
Boyle traded frees with Emma Rogers and Amy Kerley, leaving Cooley 2-7 to 2-6 in front by the time Boyle’s wand of a left boot gave Kickhams some further comfort.
Geraldines’ response was admirable as two well taken frees from the reliable Kerley brought the sides level at 2-7 apiece on 27 minutes.
Showing exceptional courage and character to get the victory, Cooley pressed for the winner, sub Róisín McDaid showing remarkable calmness to send to over the game’s winning point, before Niamh Rice sealed the triumph with a wonderful effort from range.
Cooley Kickhams: Katelyn Murphy; Emily Ward, Deborah Malone, Kate Arnold; Aoife McDaid, Claire Donnelly, Shauna Murphy; Leah Kirwan, Ciara Quinn; Lauren Boyle (0-5), Katelyn Quinn (0-1), Hannah Kirwan; Laura Traynor, Lauren McGrath (2-0), Niamh Rice (0-2)
Sub: Róisín McDaid (0-1)
Geraldines: Grainne Boyle; Kellie O’Donoghue, Holly Lambe Sally, Emma Duffy; Ava Kieran, Abbi O’Connor, Aislinn Connor; Gemma McCrave, Sarah Morgan; Emma Rogers, Rebecca Mooney (1-1), Victoria Fee; Amy Kerley (0-5), Emma Gartlan (1-0), Blaithin Sharkey (0-1)
Referee: Des McDonald (St. Nicholas)
Report by Dermot Woods