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A rip-roaring contest but only one winner - The rise to a second All-Ireland title in 3 years

‘That was the best game of football I’ve been involved with from a girls side. I was shocked by the standard of both teams’

Dunboyne captain Annie Moffatt.
Dunboyne captain Annie Moffatt.
Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

ALTHOUGH THE SENIOR final between Carnacon and Mourneabbey may have been the headliner in Parnell Park yesterday, the curtain raiser was the highlight for many.

The intermediate decider was destined to be a thriller from the get-go.

Meath’s Dunboyne had won the All-Ireland junior crown in 2015 while Cork’s Kinsale had been finalists in that same grade last year.

The year or two after many sides win a championship and progress to a higher grade is usually a bleak one. There’s transition, and often a struggle at county level.

But here they were, having successfully navigated through their respective county and provincial championship campaigns, and in the two best intermediate teams in the country.

As Kinsale captain Aoife Keating told The42 in the days leading up to the showpiece:

“Any other team, to lose an All-Ireland final on the 3 December, you could easily just say that’s it now. ‘Have a nice winter and off ye go, we might try again in a few years’.

“But that was never an option.”

Beibhinn Hickey with Faye Ahern Dunboyne's Beibhinn Hickey and Faye Ahern of Kinsale in action. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

The same applied for Dunboyne. That winning mindset, eyes firmly set on a second All-Ireland title in three years while Kinsale were seeking redemption following a two-point loss to St Maur’s last year.

Pulsating, exciting, thrilling, end-to-end play which came right down to the wire. The standard was high, the score taking was excellent. It was a game to remember.

Dunboyne were first out of the blocks, stating their intent from early doors as Aoife Thompson drew first blood and Emma Duggan’s rocket rattled the net before Kinsale could fully settle.

But when they got going, they showed their class.

Cork star Orla Finn and teen sensation Sadhbh O’Leary led the charge before the posts, combining for 2-8 in total on a fresh afternoon for football.

Julie Kavanagh and Dee Blayney celebrate with the cup after the game Julie Kavanagh and Dee Blayney celebrate with the cup. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

As half-time approached, Kinsale had a period of dominance but Player of the Match Vikki Wall stopped them in their tracks with a rip-roaring goal.

2-7 a-piece at the break, the second half was the definition of tit-for-tat. 54th minute — the sides were level for the sixth time. Someone needed to step up.

And that someone was Dunboyne’s oldest player Dee Blayney. She’s still only 30, but that shows how young this team is.

From the 2015 junior-winning team, there were ’13 or 14′ survivors according to captain Annie Moffatt. Otherwise, younger players have stood up.

Duggan, who bagged that early goal, is just 15, while eight other starters are under the age of 21. Wall, who was key throughout and has been with the Meath seniors this year, is 19.

Jenny Murphy dejected after the game Inconsolable: Kinsale's Jenny Murphy. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Back to the match-winner though. Blayney worked tirelessly in midfield throughout and she sealed the title with a monstrous effort from distance.

There was still time for Kinsale to level matters, and many of the neutrals in the stands probably wished they would. After all this had been a super game of football, no one deserved to lose.

But it was Dunboyne’s day.

“That was the best game of football I’ve been involved with from a girls side,” manager Brendan Quinn told Jerome Quinn for the LGFA after the game.

“(It’s been) a long year. You start out in January and don’t believe you’ll be here in December. When it happens it’s just fantastic!

“I was shocked by the standard of the first-half, both teams. It was pure class football, 2-7 to 2-7, you couldn’t get much better than that. The girls, they’ve a lot of heart.”

Posted by on Monday, 22 January 2018

The scenes as the whistle went and as Moffatt lifted the cup said it all. The huge travelling support from Meath were ecstatic.

“Light the bonfires! The champions are coming home,” they shared on Facebook afterwards.

This group of girls had given the town and surrounding areas many days to remember over the past three years or so.

And it was only fitting that they be honoured accordingly.

Dunboyne v Kinsale - All-Ireland Ladies Football Intermediate Club Championship Final The victorious Dunboyne team. Source: Seb Daly/SPORTSFILE

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

2015 junior champions Dunboyne edge Kinsale to win All-Ireland intermediate title

‘It’s a great feeling’: A sixth All-Ireland title to add to 16 Connacht and 19 Mayo crowns

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