AT THE weekend the Ulster Schools’ All-stars won the Schools’ interprovincial title for just the second time ever when they defeated Munster in the semi-final and then Connacht in the final.
The All-stars had been announced just a fortnight beforehand but coaches Catherine McGourty and Barry Kelly had attended the three trials and immediately pulled the team together for training and last Monday evening a challenge game with Queen’s.
They therefore hit the ground running in Dublin with Aoife McDowell firing to the net in the second minute of the semi-final against Munster and Roisin McCormick added points from frees, before Down senior Saoirse Sands clipped over a third point to give Ulster a 1-3 to 0-1 lead.
Cushendall’s Caoimhe McNaughton in action during the final win over Munster.
However Munster then got going driven by Saoirse McCarthy who had shot four points against Down in the All-Ireland Intermediate final in Croke Park in September on her way to becoming Intermediate Player of 2018. McCarthy pointed and then added a goal as Munster closed the gap to a point at half time.
Ulster’s defence was strong however and Maura Downey playing in an unusual centre-half back role gradually got to grips with the threat of McCarthy. With Casey Mullan and Sorcha McCartan coming into the forward line, Sands came further out to win the frees that Roisin McCormick converted for a 1-7 to 1-5 win.
As with the opening game, Ulster started well in the final and a point from Casey Mullan was quickly followed by another goal from Aoife McDowell. Connacht though came back strongly and had closed the gap to 1-6 to 0-7 by the break, Ulster’s points shared by Roisin McCormick and Casey Mullan.
The Cross & Passion trio of Roisin McCormick, Maeve Kelly and Anna Connolly who were part of the winning Ulster team
Once again the defence stepped up to the mark with the full-back line of Slaughtneil’s Céat McEldowney, Ballygalget’s Blanaid Savage and Cushendall’s Caoimhe McNaughton not only playing well individually but also combining well to drive the team.
And teamwork was a feature of the whole Ulster performance as they pushed on to beat Connacht on a score-line of 1-10 to 0-9.
Ulster All-star team in the final : Aine Graham, Céat McEldowney, Blanaid Savage Caoimhe McNaughton, Aislinn Harvey, Maura Downey, Isabella O’Hare, Aislinn McMahon, Maeve Kelly capt., Beth Fitzpatrick, Roisin McCormick (0-6, 0-5 frees), Anna Connolly, Saoirse Sands (0-1), Aoife McDowell (1-0), Casey Mullan (0-3).
Subs : Kimberley Burke, Faye Fitzpatrick, Beth Fitzpatrick, Kirsty McFerran, Tiegan Mullan, Eimear Colton, Sorcha McCartan