ST. PATRICK’S College, Lacken Cross, made up for last season’s disappointment by defeating newcomers Ard Scoil Chiaráin Naofa of Clara in a pulsating tie in the AUL Complex this afternoon, winning the Bank of Ireland FAI Schools Junior B Girls National Cup final by three goals to one.
The Killala outfit, managed by teacher Stephen Lacken, were beaten finalists in the Minor B Cup final 12 months ago as they fell foul to St. Mary’s Secondary School, Newport (Tipperary).
But there were scenes of jubilation for the north Mayo girls this afternoon when the final whistle blew following 70 minutes of action-packed football.
Ailbhe McHale broke the deadlock six minutes from the interval with a superb effort to deceive Ard Scoil Chiaráin Naofa netminder Hannah Cronin.
The goal was cancelled out three minutes into the second period, however, as Ciara Guilfoyle outsmarted the Lacken defence to slot home the equaliser.
There ensued a nailbiting conclusion between two equally matched teams, with Lacken Cross re-establishing the lead when the in-form Alva Munnelly connected well with an Aoife Kearney free kick.
An injury to Ard Scoil Chiaráin Naofa captain Ellie Fitzpatrick saw her withdraw from proceedings with a quarter of an hour still to play, and that setback coincided with Lacken Cross' third goal as substitute Deirbhle McHale nicked in.
There were major celebrations when the girls returned home this evening but the Lacken Cross focus will soon shift to the Minor B Cup as they attempt to defend their provincial title. The 2017 Connaught champions face Manorhamilton’s St. Clare’s Comprehensive School next week.
Alva Munnelly was awarded the player of the match accolade following a memorable performance in today's final.
St. Patrick's College, Lacken Cross: Ciara Louise Murphy, Rachel Brudenall, Ciara McHale, Sarah Costello, Aoife Kearney, Anna Heffernan, Laura Bilbow, Ailbhe McHale, Majella O’Boyle, Alison Langdon Long, Alva Munnelly.
Subs: Deirbhle McHale (for Anna Heffernan), Karen Higgins, Caoimhe Grier, Ciara Adams, Keeva McDonnell, Alice Gilvarry, Grace Munnelly, Chloe Walsh.
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, Eve Kelly.
Subs: Niamh Rooney (for Ellie Fitzpatrick), Niamh McKeon, Ciara Dolan, Jemma McGuinness, Zelda Utangec, Katie Healy, Anna Stewart, Marie VonAss, Birte Neff.