Kilkerrin-Clonberne 0-13 Donaghmoyne 0-7
The first women’s football All-Ireland club final to be played at Croke Park fell on one of the coldest days of the year, but Kilkerrin-Clonberne cared little as they retained their title in convincing style.
The Galway side led from start to finish as they denied five-time champions Donaghmoyne with a performance full of composure and poise. Kilkerrin-Clonberne were economical in possession and miserly in defence, starving Donaghmoyne’s top scorer Cathriona McConnell of shooting opportunities either in open play or from frees. Willie Ward’s charges dominated possession for most of the game and with Chloe Miskell and Olivia Divilly hitting nine points between them, they had the firepower to finish 2022 with more silverware and spark pre-Christmas celebrations at GAA Headquarters.
Kilkerrin-Clonberne captain Louise Ward was thrilled with her team’s win: “It feels surreal. It’s testament to the girls and all the work they’ve put in. We’re so thankful to the LGFA and the GAA for making this happen (playing at Croke Park). That just made it extra special for us. Any day you get to Croke Park is special, but even more so bringing your club here. Our supporters came out in their droves and they helped us across the line.”
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Defying the chilly conditions, Kilkerrin-Clonberne made a red-hot start, as points from Eva Noone, Miskell, Divilly and Louise Ward moved them four clear just five minutes in. Donaghmoyne eventually got off the mark through Amy Garland and a quick-fire brace from Cora Courtney, but the holders finished the first half with another flourish, as a point from the strong-running Lynsey Noone and a pair of scores from Divilly made it 0-7 to 0-3 at the interval.
Divilly and Miskell stretched the gap to six after the restart and although Cathriona McConnell replied with her only score of the evening, Miskell starred in the final quarter with another couple of points. Donaghmoyne rarely looked like getting the goal they needed to ignite their challenge, although the Monaghan and Ulster champions did show trademark spirit with a late flurry of scores from sisters Rosemary and Cora Courtney. Kilkerrin-Clonberne weren’t in any mood to let their lead slip, however, with a fifth point by player of the match Divilly ensuring that they remained six clear at the final whistle.
Kilkerrin-Clonberne manager Willie Ward was delighted with their performance, saying: “It’s an absolutely amazing day for us. It’s a fantastic occasion for our club, to win back-to-back titles and to be brought in to Croke Park and I’m very proud to see my daughter lift the cup.
“We knew how good Donaghmoyne were and we knew that they would keep going the whole way through. We were expecting everything they came with and they brought it. Our game management was very good; the players handled it very well on the field.”
Louise Ward added: “This isn’t something that happened overnight. We were knocking on the door in semi-finals before we got across that line. When we beat Foxrock-Cabinteely, it was great to get that monkey off our back. We learned from defeats to Mourneabbey and we kept coming back. The girls have put in so much work, but it pays off.
“We didn’t want Donaghmoyne to get a lead on us, so we knew we had to get out of the blocks early. We could have taken three or four points in the first half just to keep the scoreboard ticking over. In last year’s semi-final, Donaghmoyne outscored us by five points to one (in the third quarter), so that was in the back of our minds as well.”
Kilkerrin-Clonberne: L Murphy; C Dunleavy, S Gormally, C Costello; K Mee, N Ward, L Finnegan; S Divilly, L Ward (0-2); O Divilly (0-5, three frees), H Noone, L Noone (0-1); E Noone (0-1 free), A Morrissey, C Miskell (0-4).
Subs: N Divilly for Finnegan (47 mins); S Fahy for Mee (53 mins); M Flanagan for L Noone (54 mins); Cáitlín Boyle for Morrissey (58 mins); Caoimhe Boyle for Miskell (59 mins).
Donaghmoyne: L Martin; J Geoghegan, N Callan (Capt.), A Callan; E Traynor, S Courtney, F Courtney; C Courtney (0-3), E McElroy; A Burns, R Courtney (0-2), A Garland (0-1); C McConnell (0-1), L Garland, S McConnell.
Subs: G Comiskey for Burns, Á McElroy for S McConnell (both 54 mins); D Collier for A Callan, J Courtney for Geoghegan, S Burns for A Garland (all 59 mins).
Referee: J Murphy (Carlow).