The Kilcock team prior to Sunday afternoon's Leinster Junior Football Final against Navan O'Mahony's. Photo: Kilcock GAA
Navan O’Mahony’s 3-9
LGFA Leinster Junior Football Championship Final
By Kildare Post reporter
A scoring burst in the final quarter of the game ensured that Navan O'Mahonys were crowned Leinster Junior Football Champions at the expense of Kilcock in Kinnegad on Sunday afternoon.
It was a thrilling game that was evenly matched and end to end until the controversial sending off by referee John Doherty of Kilcock wing-back Laura Gibbons for a challenge that wouldn't have warranted a yellow card.
It was from this key moment in the game that the Meath side took control of the game and held out for the win.
A huge crowd gathered in Kinnegad to watch the final and there was a great atmosphere and plenty of colour on show from both clubs.
It was Kilcock who got off to a good start when wing-forward Sheena Byrne was fouled and full-forward Grace White converted the resulting free.
Player of the match and Navan centre-forward Aoibheann Leahy who was very influential for the Meath side goaled soon after where she blasted the ball high into the net past Kilcock goalkeeper Eimear Kelly.
Orlaith Mallon soon added a second point for Navan O'Mahonys as she tapped her effort over the bar.
Kilcock got their second point from Sarah Lavin after some great work out the field by Aisling O'Connor and Grace White before they grabbed their first goal of the game after Sheena Byrne was fouled in the box and the referee awarded a penalty where Grace White stood up and hit the top corner to put Kilcock ahead.
Almost immediately afterwards Kilcock got their second goal when a Grace White free dropped short into the hands of Sarah Lavin who hit it low past the O'Mahonys goalkeeper Ciara Blake.
As a provincial final, this game was always going to throw up an interesting contest and it showed that when O'Mahonys playmaker Aoibheann Leahy ran through and laid the ball to full-forward Megan Collins who hit a low shot past Eimear Kelly to make it a one-point game again.
Two brilliantly taken frees from O'Mahonys wing-forward Orlaith Mallon then levelled the game and the teams went in to the break level at 2-3 each.
Navan were the quickest out of the blocks in the second half as they raced into a two point lead after an Aoibheann Leahy free and a Sophia Fitzherbert point before Aisling O'Connor added her second point of the day for Kilcock immediately after.
O'Mahonys wing-forward Orlaith Mallon showed her crisp accuracy once again as she pointed a free from 35 metres with Emma Robinson responding when a great run where she dazzled her way through the O'Mahonys defence resulted in a fine point.
Navan had goalkeeper Ciara Blake to thank after a great goal effort from Kilcock midfielder and captain Caoimhe Fagan who bore down on goal and her goalward bound shot was tipped over the bar by Blake to level the game.
The momentum was in Kilcock’s favour now with excellent defending from Mary Tighe and Laura Gibbons starting an attack where Aisling O'Connor pivoted the ball to Grace White who put the Kildare side a point ahead.
Then came the key moment in the match where Kilcock wing-back Laura Gibbons was shown a straight red card to the surprise of both sets of supporters where the dismissal was given for a collision with one of the Navan O'Mahony players and under normal circumstances would not have warranted a yellow card.
It was a debatable decision that ended up being the difference between the sides and it meant that Kilcock would have to play the final quarter of the game with fourteen players.
Navan O’Mahonys took advantage with the extra player and it was an Aoibheann Leahy free that leveled matters once again.
Leahy added another free soon after and Navan made use of their extra player when they created an overlap and the pacey Aoibheann Leahy ran at the Kilcock defence and passed the ball to Megan Collins who got her second goal of the game to put five points between the sides.
Grace White was very unlucky with a goalbound effort for Kilcock that was once again palmed over the bar from Navan keeper Ciara Blake and when White pointed another free it looked like the comeback was on with only a goal separating the sides.
Kilcock found chances hard to come by, however and O'Mahonys could have gone further ahead when Jacinta Maher's shot at goal was brilliantly saved by Kilcock goalkeeper Eimear Kelly.
Soon after the ref blew the whistle for full time and it was Meath's Navan O'Mahonys who were crowned champions.
Kilcock: Eimear Kelly, Mary Tighe, Andrea McGrath, Therese Macken, Paige Byrne, Emma Maguire, Laura Gibbons, Megan O'Connor, Caoimhe Fagan (0-1), Sarah Lavin (1-1), Aisling O'Connor (0-2), Sheena Byrne, Emma Robinson (0-1), Grace White (1-4, 1-0p, 2f), Lorna Murray.
Subs used: Sadbh Mullarkey for Therese Macken 39mins, Bernie Durkan for Paige Byrne 52 mins, Sarah Gill for Sarah Lavin 57mins.
Navan O’Mahony’s: Ciara Blake, Deirdre Forde, Hannah Heskin, Sophia Fitzherbert (0-1), Caoimhe Clynch, Sarah Powderly, Aoife Devlin, Tara Fay, Laoise McDermott, Orlaith Mallon(0-4, 3f), Aoibheann Leahy (1-3, 3f), Eimear Fay, Megan Collins (2-0), Jacinta Maher, Ailbhe Leahy (0-1).