St Patrick’s College, Lacken Cross, made up for last season’s bitter disappointment by defeating newcomers Ard Scoil Chiaráin Naofa of Clara in a pulsating tie in the AUL Complex on Wednesday afternoon.
The Killala outfit, managed by teacher Stephen Lacken, made an apprehensive return to the Clonshaugh venue where they were beaten finalists in the Minor B cup final 12 months previous as they fell foul to St Mary’s Secondary School, Newport, that day.
However there were scenes of jubilation for the Connacht and now National Cup champions when the final whistle went following 70 minutes of action packed football. The teams tested each other from the outset with Lacken Cross hitting the woodwork twice in each half as well as missed opportunities from both sides.
Captain Ellie Fitzpatrick, Ciara Guilfoyle, and Robyn Bracken were impressive for the Offaly school who came agonisingly close to Ciara Murphy’s goalmouth on several occasions.
Ailbhe McHale finally broke the deadlock six minutes from the interval with a superb effort to deceive netminder Hannah Cronin. This was cancelled out three minutes into the second period as Ciara Guilfoyle outsmarted the Saints' defence to slot home the equaliser.
A tense encounter by two equally matched teams ensured a nail-biting conclusion to events. A light reprieve for Lacken Cross as the in-form Alva Munnelly connected well to an Aoife Kearney free-kick which found its way to the back of the net.
An injury to Fitzpatrick saw her withdraw from proceedings with a quarter of an hour still to play, a massive blow for the Leinster stars. This coincided with St Patrick’s College third goal as substitute Deirbhle McHale nicked in to ensure the silverware for the Mayo side, 3-1.
St Patrick’s College, Lacken Cross: Ciara Louise Murphy (captain ), Rachel Brudenall, Ciara McHale, Sarah Costello, Aoife Kearney, Anna Heffernan (Deirbhle McHale, 26 ), Laura Bilbow, Ailbhe McHale, Majella O’Boyle, Alison Langdon Long, Alva Munnelly.
Ard Scoil Chiaráin Naofa: Clara: Hannah Cronin, Áine Bracken, Rebecca Larkin, Shannon Wynne, Rachel Bracken, Ciara Monaghan, Kate Fitzpatrick, Robyn Bracken, Ciara Guilfoyle, Ellie Fitzpatrick (Niamh Rooney, 54 ), Eve Kelly.