Kate Russell All-Ireland School’s Championship Final
St Andrew’s 3 (Harriet Kinsman, Niamh Atcheler, Sarah Woodroofe) Colaiste Iognaid 1 (Tara Melvin)
St Andrew’s ended a decade’s wait for the Kate Russell title as they produced a composed second half performance to claim their maiden win in the competition, ending Colaiste Iognaid’s reign as champions with a 3-1 win at Dangan this afternoon.
It proved a suitable cherry on the top for Ireland A trio Chloe Watkins, Niamh Atcheler and Gillian Pinder who have achieved so much in the school’s careers.
But after a few heart-breaking eliminations in recent years, Andrew’s used that pent-up experience to squeeze the life out of a high-quality Jes’ outfit for whom Lynsey Trainor was a clear and constant danger.
Raiding down the right wing, she served notice of intent inside three minutes, shooting just past Tiffany Ellis’ post before earning the first corner of the game as the Galway girls started the faster.
But Andrew’s grew into the tie, Atcheler taking on a more advanced role and winning her side’s first corner, soon followed by another pair of set pieces in quick succession.
From this third corner, Harriet Kinsman neatly opened the deadlock after an improvised move saw stopper Sarah Woodroofe quickly re-adjust to square the ball for Chloe Watkins.
Her shot and Gillian Pinder’s second phase effort were both blocked but the bouncing ball fell to Kinsman’s left and she made a tricky effort look easy, using an upright reverse to roll home. The Jes, though, were back on terms inside five minutes, Tara Melvin pummelling home a straight hit, via the despairing stick of Atcheler on the line.
But she was to have the last laugh in the half as she slightly miscued a reverse on the left edge of the circle, the ball looping high above Natasha Cooke’s head and while she got her stick above her head, she was unable to get enough purchase to push it over the bar and it trickled over the line.
Iognaid, though, came close to levelling before the break, Eavan Murphy winning their third corner before Atcheler blocked a Trainor strike while Vera Taaffe took Brenda Flannery’s shot off the line.
Trainor reversed over with the first act of the second half but, from there on in, the Booterstown school was well on top.
Gillian Pinder’s mazy dribbling and Sophie Marshall’s pace on the counter created the chances. They were aided, too, by some rash Jes’ tackling which had garnered two green cards in the first half and two subsequent yellows after the break.
Woodroofe went close in the first period of 11v10 and netted the vital third during the second five-minute spell, getting on the end of a superb team move.
Pinder raced a couple of sticks before feeding Marshall with an excellent through-ball. She squared perfectly for Woodroofe to simply roll home and the title was assured.
St Andrew’s: T Ellis, N Atcheler, L Stephens, V Taaffe, L Pinder, C Watkins, G Pinder, S Woodroofe, S Marshall, H Kinsman, L Gray
Subs: H Sarratt, H Meredith, S Kavanagh, J Lavery, A Spain, L Moran
Colaiste Iognaid: N Cooke, T Melvin, A Ryan, N Callanan, L Trainor, B Flannery, E Murphy, K Codyre, M Carey, M Russell, E Carey
Subs: C Treacy, A Dunne, C Kirk, A Cunningham, C Power, S McLaughlin, N Codyre
Kate Russell All-Ireland School’s Championship, results
5th/6th place play-off: Crescent Comprehensive 3 (K McGrath 2; Ciara Moloney) Salerno 0
3rd/4th place playoff: Loreto Kilkenny 1 (A Curran) Royal School Armagh (J Orr 2, A-M Morton 2, J Johnston)
Final: St Andrew’s 3 (H Kinsman, N Atcheler, S Woodroofe) Colaiste Iognaid 1 (T Melvin)
* More photos from the final can be seen here