A first half hat-trick from Grainne Rafferty was the foundation for victory in the Inter provincials schools shield final held in Mullingar on Saturday 25th January.
Ulster suffered a severe blow before the competition started with the absence through injury of full back Karen Ward, midfielders Shannon Mc Grody and Niamh O Neill and forward Mairead Kavanagh. Despite this they showed great heart and determination to reach the shield final were they met reigning champions Munster.
The Ulster girls were up for the final and with their first attack forced a 45m kick. From this kick Amber Barrett found Niamh Callan who calmly slotted over for the opening score. From then until half time it became the Grainne Rafferty show. With Muireann Atkinson and Niamh Coleman pulling the strings at midfield Ulster attackers were getting loads of chances and Rafferty who plays her football with St. Ciarans, Ballygawley netted three times and also fired a point to help Ulster to a 3-2 to 0-0 interval lead.
Munster came out all guns blazing in the second half but the Ulster defence with Louise Kenny in charge stood firm and the girls from the south only managed to score three points. Ulster on the other hand continued to dominate. Amber Barrett contributed 1-5 and Niamh Callan also found the net to help Ulster to a deserving 5-7 to 0-3 win.
The management team of Sheena Kelly, Gary Mallon, Gerry Doherty and Paul Swift were delighted with the performance in the final and the overall weekend contribution. Team Captain Rose Boyle who was playing in her third tournament received the shield from President Pat Quill and afterwards said, “We knew we didn’t do ourselves justice in the round robin stages and that we had a big performance in us. It’s brilliant that the girls showed what they are capable off and we will certainly enjoy the trip home”.
The winning squad were:
1 – Kayleigh O’Neill – St Mary’s Magherafelt
2 – Marie O’Reilly – Loreto Letterkenny
3 – Karen Ward – St Columba’s Stranorlar
4 – Niaimhín Cooper – Rathmore
5 – Aoife Duffy – Our Lady’s Castleblayney
6 – Aoife McConville – St Michael’s Lurgan
7 – Louise Kenny – St Paul’s Bessbrook
8 – Shannon McGroddy – Loreto Milford
9 – Niamh O’Neill – Loreto Omagh
10 – Michaela McGuigan – Holy Trinity Cookstown
11 – Sarah Jane McDonald – Moville Community College
12 – Rose Boyle – Loreto Letterkenny
13 – Niamh McGirr – Loreto Omagh
14 – Amber Barrett – Loreto Milford
15 – Grainne Rafferty – St Ciaran’s Ballygawley
16 – Holly Lynch – St Louis Carrickmacross
17 – Lauren Jones – St Louis Carrickmacross
18 – Bláthnaid McLaughlin – Thornhill
19 – Mairead Grant – Our Lady’s Newry
20 – Niamh Callan – Our Lady’s Castleblayney
21 – Hannah Hydon – St Mary’s Magherafelt
22 – Muireann Atkinson – Our Lady’s Castleblayney
23 – Niamh Coleman – St Michael’s Lurgan
24 – Mairead Kavanagh – Assumption Ballynahinch
25 – Emer Rocks – St Genevieve’s Belfast
Well done to Ulster referee Brendan Rice who officiated at the tournament on behalf of the province. Pictures from the tournament are available on the Ulster Ladies Facebook page.