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All-Ireland Title

 

All-Ireland Title Team photograph

 

St Mary’s University College's netball team retained their All-Ireland title on Wednesday, 12 March with a 23-16 defeat of University of Coleraine, at Antrim Forum.

 

On route to the final St Mary’s had topped the league with an unbeaten run against Queen’s University, University of Ulster Coleraine, University of Ulster Jordanstown and University College Dublin, as well as seconds teams from each of these universities.

In the final St Mary’s took an early lead, due to defensive dominance from Maeve Connolly and captain, Mairead Conwell, and took a 6-2 advantage at quarter time. St Mary’s consolidated the lead, with fine shooting from Nicola McAnenly and Rebecca O'Hare, taking a six goal lead into the half-time break.

The St Mary’s bench had a nervy start to the second half as Coleraine enjoyed a period of dominance and reduced the gap to 3 goals. This was further compounded when prominent wing defence, Megan Kerr, suffered an injury and was replaced by the skilled Niamh Henderson. However, on the restart, the St Mary’s midcourt settled strongly and began to force turn overs. Wing attack, Cassie Cadden, and vice-captain, Kelly O'Higgins, were clinical in their distribution and support play to ensure the shooters had plenty of opportunities to restore a healthy lead.

 

All-Ireland Title photograph

 

Coleraine tried valiantly to get back into the game but St Mary’s full court defence and precision passing guaranteed victory for the team. Centre, Kelly O'Higgins, was St Mary’s best performer on the day with a high-energy display ensuring a seamless link from defence to attack, while also dominating Coleraine's best player.

St Mary’s were without two influential players from last year's success (Ciara O'Neill and Maeve Mullan) and had entered the final as slight underdogs. The depth of the St Mary’s squad was vital in ensuring victory, with 16 players having taken to the court in competitive league matches this year. The clinical nature of their play and tireless team work were highly evident in the final.

 

Mairead Conwell (Captain)

Kelly O'Higgins (Vice-Captain)

Maeve Connolly

Megan Kerr

Niamh Henderson

Cassie Cadden

Rebecca O'Hare

Nicola McAnenly

Eimear McAleenan

Catherine McGeady

Cristin O'Kane

Aideen Murphy

Catriona Bannon

Maeve Mullan

Aileen McAllister

Michaela Press