A quick glance at the score line would suggest an easy win for St. Leo’s of Carlow, but the reality was anything but. In one of the most thrilling finals in memory, this Ladies Junior A Final swung one way and then the other before a flurry of goals in the first half of extra time proved enough for Leo’s to collect their third successive Leinster title.
St Mary’s will wonder how the game got away from them against their arch rivals. They were two points clear late in the second half of this enthralling tie in Portarlington’s McCann Park last Friday after an excellent performance but just when Leo’s looked dead and buried they hit back with a quick brace to send the game to extra time where they powered past the beleaguered Offaly girls.
However the game was not without controversy as both St Leo’s late points that brought the game to extra time had more than a slice of good fortune attached.
With two minutes left, Kildare official Tom Lennon awarded the Carlow girls a soft free that Niamh Power stepped up to take. She appeared to have made a hash of it by tapping it a yard ahead of her but the referee allowed her to retake the kick and she launched an outstanding effort over the bar. Then, deep in stoppage time, Lennon awarded a very soft free when Leo’s Christine Middleton seemed to be fairly challenged by the dogged Mary’s defence. Power again stepped up and her calmly struck close range free sent the game to extra time to the dismay of the Edenderry players, supporters and management.
See this week’s Offaly Express (February 1) for full report