Dublin v Kilkenny

Dublin 0-17  Kilkenny 2-10

In years to come thousands will say they were there in O'Moore Park, Portlaoise to see Dublin mark a famous victory over Kilkenny.  In truth, the joy of being there belongs to the loyal few who saw an epic encounter that had victory snatched from Dublin's grasp at the end of normal time. 

While it took all of 80+ minutes to see off the challenge of the Cats, Dublin were the better team throughout but one or two slip-ups allowed Kilkenny to remain in the game.  But these set-backs didn't deter and with two minutes to go in the second period of extra-time, the outstanding Arlene Cushen won a tremendous ball and from 45m her shot sailed over the black spot.  Dublin had two minutes of heroic defending to perform before Alan Lagrue's whistle sounded and Dublin had claimed a sweet victory.

Arlene Cushen also had a hand in the opening score of the game when her clearance was won by Aisling Carolan and her speedy run yielded a great point after only 37 seconds.  Two minutes later Kilkenny drew level thanks to an Aoife Neary free.  But Kilkenny would not score again for another 22 minutes.

That was due largely to a superb defence.  Playing with the aid of the breeze in the first half, Dublin's backs were outstanding.  In goals Fiona Hayes was rock solid and was to have a crucial part to play in the second period.  The full-back line of Lizzie McSweeney, Gráinne Quinn and captain Elaine O'Meara were superb.  In the league encounter earlier in the season, Michelle Quilty proved quite a handful for Elaine O'Meara but on this occasion, the Na Fianna girl was in charge holding her opponent scoreless.

The half-line was anchored by Louise O'Hara who was masterful and the wing halves of Arlene Cushen and Catriona Power were first to nearly every ball.

Kilkenny's defence proved difficult to break down and four pointed frees and a 45 from the deadly accurate Mairi Moynihan helped Dublin to build a first half tally of 0-6.  Dublin had come close to goaling in the 10th minute when Amy Murphy was fouled but Mairi Moynihan's well-hit penalty was blocked.  Critically she did point the resultant 45.

At the interval Dublin led by 0-6 to 0-2.

However within a minute of the restart, the lead had been cut to a point when Elaine Aylward's long range free deceived everyone to finish in the net.  By the 38th minute, Katie Power had levelled the game and one sensed that Kilkenny felt their side would push on as has happened on other occasions in the past.  But that did not happen and although playing into the breeze the next five scores came to Dublin - three of them from play.  It was a powerful statement.

The first came off good work by Sarah Ryan who set up hard-working Áine Fanning for goal but her shot rose over the bar.  A minute later in the 40th minute, Sarah Ryan turned and fired over a neat point.  In the 42nd minute, Dublin created their second goal chance when Laura Twomey palmed for the net only to see only to see the stick of Caitriona Ryan - the Kilkenny 'keeper get in the way.

Mairí Moynihan pointed the 45 and added another free in the 45th minute before great work by the composed Ali Twomey set up Aisling Carolan for her second point.  Aisling was now operating in the half-line and gave the experienced Jacqui Frisby a torrid time. 

At the other end Fiona Hayes was equal to anything Kilkenny threw at her including an Aoife Neary penalty in the 47th minute.  But Kelly Hamilton and Aoife Neary managed to cut the gap to just three points by the 50th minute.

Laura Twomey was at the heart of some much of Dublin's display linking defence with attack and showed tremendous fitness to manage this feat for 80 minutes.

The Moynihan Radar was on track and another free pushed Dublin back four points to the good with 10 minutes remaining.  But in a disastrous 2 minutes spell it looked like Dublin were going to be heading for another one of those gallant performance days.  An Aoife Neary 45 left just a goal between the sides when Dublin turned over possession in the Kilkenny half.  The clearance came eventually to Katie Power and she handpassed to the net past her cousin in the Dublin goals - Fiona Hayes.

Ciara Berkeley made her entry to the game at this stage and made her contribution.

Kilkenny might have been expected to strike the crucial blow at this stage but once again Dublin fought back with Amy Murphy battling ferociously at centre and full-forward positions.  Dublin's pressure yielded a free and Mairi Moynihan handled the pressure superbly to put Dublin a point up in the 59th minute.  Dublin won the puck out and Amy Murphy's effort dropped wide but it seemed as good as a score at the time until Kilkenny somehow managed to put a great move together for Aoife Neary to fire over the equaliser in the 61st minute.

Dublin played into the breeze and the town end for the first ten minutes half and within two Ali Twomey had given huge hope to the side with an inspiring point from the 17 year old.  But the remainder of the half belonged to Kilkenny and three points from Aoife Neary (f), Leanne Fennelly and Aoife Neary again saw them 2-10 to 0-14 in front at the break.

But that was to be the end of Kilkenny's scoring.  Nevertheless, it took Dublin 7 minutes to score - another great Mairi Moynihan free.  Substitutions also made a telling impact.  Orlaith Durkan and Ciara Burgess were now on the field and with her first touch Orlaith earned the free that Mairi pointed.  A minute later the dynamic Muireann O'Gorman managed to win possession her shot was blocked but she regained the ball and eventually it fell to Orlaith Durkan who swung over a delightful point.

It was gripping stuff as Kilkenny came in search of the winner but Dublin had their tails up and when Arlene Cushen beat all others to the ball in the 79th minute you know she had only one thing on her mind.  A miss from a similar position in the first half didn't deter her and from the moment it left her stick the sliothar was on its way between the posts.  There was still more drama and a wonderful clearance from near her own endline by Ciara Burgess cleared the danger 70m up the field.  But Kilkenny fought back only to see their effort go wide.  The game was now in its 82nd minute as play was held up due to an injury to Amy Murphy but joy broke out when Alan Lagrue signalled the end of a thriller following Fiona Haye's puck-out.

A deserved result for all players and mentors Denis Murphy, Ann Colgan, Brian Lawlor and physio Declan Monaghan who forget the pain of his recently incurred broken collarbone. 

Fiona Hayes, Lizzie McSweeney, Gráinne Quinn, Elaine O'Meara, Arlene Cushen (0-1), Louise O'Hara, Catriona Power, Mairi Moynihan (0-10, 9f, 1 45), Laura Twomey, Muireann O'Gorman, Sarah Ryan (0-1), Ali Twomey (0-1), Aisling Carolan (0-2), Amy Murphy, Áine Fanning (0-1)

Subs: Ciara Berkeley, Ciara Burgess, Orlaith Durkan (0-1)

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