Leahy stars as Navan O'Mahonys claim Leinster Junior Club crown

Leinster Junior Club Championship Final

Kilcock (Kildare) 2-09
Navan O’Mahonys (Meath) 3-09

By Aisling Clery in Kinnegad

1-03 and a Player of the Match inspired performance from Aoibheann Leahy sealed a Leinster JFC title for Navan O’Mahonys in Kinnegad on Sunday afternoon. The sides were level at the break. Kilcock were reduced to 14 with a red card and O’Mahonys seized the numerical advantage and did not look back. Grace White brought the gap back to three but it was the Meath champions who ran out winners.

The sides were evenly matched in the opening half, both enjoying periods of dominance. Grace White was first to raise a white flag for Kilcock but their lead was soon erased by the first of the Hoops two opening half goals. County star Aoibheann Leahy found herself completely unmarked and made no mistake with the finish into Eimear Kelly’s net.

Eimear Fay extended O’Mahony’s lead to three but this was cancelled out by a Sarah Lavin point on ten minutes. Kilcock were back in front after 16 minutes when Grace White’s penalty was easily dispatched into the top right corner of Ciara Blake’s net. Kilcock were dominating possession and were unlucky not to go further ahead with Aisling O’Connor and Emma Robinson seeing their efforts go wide.

O’Mahonys gave their supporters reason to cheer when Megan Collins beat her marker and finished to the net to leave just a point between them. O’Connor increased that gap to two on 24 minutes but two Orlaith Mallon frees coming up to the break sent them in level as John Doherty blew his half time whistle.

Aoibheann Leahy and Sophia Fitzherbert pushed O’Mahonys into a two point lead early in the second half but they were pegged back with a second Aisling O’Connor point. Orlaith Mallon’s freetaking gave them a two point lead but points from Emma Robinson and Captain Caoimhe Fagan Hynes sent the scoreboard level once more at 2-06 each.

The game ebbed and flowed with both sides eager to take control and a terrific Grace White point edged the Kildare champions ahead once again. On the resumption, the Hoops played the ball down field and a clash with Ailbhe Leahy resulted in a red card for the Kilcock defender.

Aoibheann Leahy added two quick frees and O’Mahonys were once again ahead. It was a lead they would not relinquish as Ailbhe Leahy pointed to push them two ahead. On 51 minutes, Megan Collins hit her second goal and there was daylight between the teams – 3-09 to 2-07.

Kilcock refused to admit defeat and their defiance served up an exciting last few minutes. Grace White pointed after a terrific save from Ciara Blake. She added a further point to leave just three between the sides and while a comeback appeared on the cards, Navan O’Mahonys finished strongly and will go on to represent Leinster in the All Ireland Junior Club semi final against Donaghmore of Cork next weekend.

Navan O’Mahonys: C Blake, D Forde, H Heskin, S Fitzherbert, C Clynch, S Powderly, A Devlin, T Fay, L McDermott, O Mallon (0-03, 3f), Aoibheann Leahy (1-03, C), E Fay (0-01), M Collins (2-01), J Maher, A Leahy.

Subs: A O’Toole for Devlin, E Callan for Clynch.

Kilcock: E Kelly, M Tighe, A McGrath, T Macken, P Byrne, E Maguire, L Gibbons, M O’Connor, C Fagan Hynes (0-01, C), S Lavin (1-01), A O’Connor (0-02), S Byrne, E Robinson (0-01), G White (1-04, 1 pen, 2F), L Murray.

Ref: John Doherty (Dublin)

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