St Jude’s ladies move to the brink of All-Ireland glory
Hannah Hegarty of St Judes blocks an attempted shot by Nadine Cathcart of Carrickmacross during the 2021 All-Ireland Ladies Junior Club Football Championship semi final at St Margarets GAA Club. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile

St Jude’s ladies move to the brink of All-Ireland glory

ST JUDE’S captain Aoife Keyes has admitted it has yet to fully sink in that the Templeogue side have reached the All-Ireland Junior Club Ladies Football Championship decider.

Thanks in no small measure to late goals from Aisling Gannon and Niamh Kerr, Jude’s overcame Monaghan and Ulster champions Carrickmacross on a scoreline of 3-9 to 0-11 at St Margaret’s last Sunday to book their spot alongside Tipperary’s Mullinahone in the competition’s decider on Saturday week.

Baltinglass GAA in Co. Wicklow will be the venue for this national showpiece and it promises to be an exciting build-up for Keyes and the rest of the Jude’s squad.

“I just can’t believe it” exclaimed Keyes. “I just keep saying that, but it’s true. We’re buzzing. It’s such a big thing for the club and everyone involved. Everyone’s parents, families and we’re just so excited for the next two weeks.

“We’ve watched back the match a few times. The match was so close. Obviously the scoreline doesn’t really show that, but it was really down to the wire. It was great for watching, but for playing it was tough.”

Despite regularly being named at midfield with Dublin camogie captain Hannah Hegarty, Keyes has actually been stationed on the edge of the square for the majority of this campaign.

She helped herself to 1-1 against Carrickmacross – having previously registered a brace of goals in a facile All-Ireland quarter-final win over the UK-based Tir na nÓg – and has gradually grown accustomed to operating as the fulcrum of the Jude’s attack.

Caoimhe McGrath of St Judes in action against Grace Connolly of Carrickmacross in Sunday’s semi final

“It’s definitely a new position for myself. I normally played in midfield or half-forward line. Moving into the full-forward line has been a bit different, but I’m starting to enjoy it a bit more.

“It was kind of difficult [at the start]. I find it hard just to stay put, obviously from being more of a running player, but I’m starting to enjoy it now,” Keyes added.

There was 14 minutes gone on the clock in St Margaret’s last weekend when Keyes rattled the Carrickmacross net to hand Jude’s a narrow 1-1 to 0-2 advantage.

Despite the scoring prowess of Sarah Capaldi and a series of outstanding saves from their goalkeeper Kerrie Martin, Carrickmacross could not get the upper hand on their Wellington Lane counterparts as Young, Kerr and Lisa Morris all chipped in with points to give Jude’s a 1-6 to 0-6 interval cushion.

They were now just 30 minutes away from a coveted All-Ireland Final berth, but there was a major kick from their Farney County rivals on the resumption. Courtesy of three unanswered points by Capaldi, they wiped out the Jude’s lead by the 39th minute.

While Keyes, Kerr and Gannon were all denied a second goal by the majestic Martin, Hegarty and Young ensured Jeff Kane’s charges moved two points clear on the third-quarter mark.

The nominal hosts stretched their cushion with a fisted Keyes effort, but with Capaldi pointing frees either side of Hegarty rattling the post from close-range, the bare minimum separated the two teams (1-9 to 0-11) with just a minute of normal time remaining.

Yet just when the momentum appeared to be with Carrickmacross, St Jude’s secured further passage in the most extraordinary circumstances.

Indeed, less than 30 seconds after a speculative Gannon shot floated into the net, Hegarty set up Kerr to fire home and secure victory for the Dubliners.


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